While folks are still reeling from the two-hour jolt of pain that was Knight Rider last night, you might as well start pinning your hopes on the upcoming Speed Racer movie if you want a quality story about a boy and his car. Although the Mach 5 is being upgraded with a lot of CGI elements, you'll have to pry that original steering wheel with all the alphabet-buttons on it from our cold, dead memories. Put your mental pistons to work and find out more about the car and the show in our Speed Racer homage below.
- Speed Racer was originally a manga series called Mach GoGoGo (which might actually be a catchier title) in the 1960s.
- Creator Tatsuo Yoshida was inspired to make the series after he saw Goldfinger and Viva Las Vegas, so you can thank James Bond and Elvis.
- Speed inherited Elvis' neckerchief and black hairdo from Viva, and all the car gadgetry and espionage from Goldfinger.
- Yoshida also created Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman, or Battle of the Planets in 1972.
- Speed's name is actually Go Mifune, and the giant red M on the hood of the car stands for Mifune Motors, not Mach 5.
- The name Mifune was an homage to Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, who appeared in over 170 films, including Seven Samurai and Hidden Fortress.
- The name Go in Japanese is also a homophone for the number five, and it's also why Speed has a G embroidered on his shirt.
Speed first appeared on television in 1967, and was also quickly snapped up by American producers. In fact, producer Peter Fernandez provided the voices for Speed and Racer X.
The buttons on the Mach 5's steering wheel each have a specific function: A fires the autojacks, which can make the car leap over obstacles, B deploys the belt tires for extra traction on slippery terrain, C makes the ginormous saw blades pop out of the side of the car, D extends a deflector over the cockpit, allowing it to go underwater, E activates the "Evening Eyes" which lets Speed see in the dark, F turns the car into "Frogger mode" which allows the vehicle to submerge and has 30 minutes of oxygen, G fires the "gizmo rocket," (at sort of bird-shaped homing robot) and H sends the robot back home.
- Trixie's original name was Michi Shimura, which explains the M on her own shirt. In fact, she came from a family of rich auto-racing rivals, and was initially sent to spy on Speed in her chopper. However, she fell in love with him and started flying support over Speed's races and giving him advice on the radio.
- In the original series, Speed's brother Ken'ichi Mifune (Rex Racer) crashes the families first car while waving to Pops in the stands. After his father chews his ass out, he runs away from home and later reappears as the Mysterious Racer X.
- TV Guide called the episode where Racer X reveals his identity as one of the most memorable moments in television history.
- When the animated series aired in Germany in 1971, they had to take it off the air after only three episodes because parents hated it. Newspapers called it "horror comic" and "blood and collision racket." Maybe they didn't want supercars hopping up and down the autobahn.
- Speed Racer has been parodied on Dexter's Laboratory, Family Guy, and in the Fairly Oddparents movie, each aping the hyperspeed that Speed and crew talk in.
- There have been several attempts to revive Speed Racer, but they've each been yanked off the air fairly quickly. A new series will begin airing on Nicktoons after the live-action film airs later this year. However, it's doubtful anyone can recapture the camp of the original.
Check out the megalame introduction from The New Adventures of Speed Racer. Ouch.
Here's the much better looking introduction from 1997's Mach GoGoGo, which adopted a much more hardcore anime look and feel.
- Check out these two Speed Racer parody commercials. In one, Speed is given a Volkswagen GTI after the Mach 5 is mysteriously sabotaged, and uses it to knock other drivers off the course where they careen to their death. In the Geico one, he tells Trixie "Not now, bitch!" when she calls him from her chopper to tell him the bridge is out, then gapes when he realizes how much he's fucked.