On 1st April, I try to answer the big questions that keep all Motorsport fans awake at night. Having previously looked at what driver’s names mean in Chinese and what astrology tell us about F1, here I look at why the motorsport series depicted in Wacky Races is the best series of all time. Wacky Races was a 1968 children’s cartoon that featured 11 different cars racing around North America. The series was a spoof (or perhaps a love letter) to a 1965 film The Great Race, which was itself inspired by the 1908 New York to Paris Race.
Here are 4 reasons why it is was the greatest motorsport series of all time.
1) Open car design format
Whilst the regulations for most series of Motorsport are highly controlled, Wacky Races opened up their regulations on car specifications and allowed the designers to come up with fundamentally different approaches. Cars based on aeroplanes, race cars and tanks were fair game.
Cars were even allowed to adjust within races, with The Convert-A-Car being a perfect example. At the other end of the technology spectrum was a car literally made out of stone, but it’s a testament to the series that both approaches could be successful.
2) Opportunities for female racers
Wacky Races only featured 1 female driver: Penelope Pitstop. Whilst her pink car complete with a special device to apply lipstick may seem sexist by today’s standards, it’s arguably still more progressive than modern Formula One, which hasn’t featured a female driver in decades. She also achieved 4 wins and a total of 11 podiums in 34 races, the kind of stats that most drivers could only dream of. (It’s a higher hit rate than the likes of Kimi Räikkönen, Charles Leclerc or Nico Rosberg have achieved in F1).
3) Genuine Competition
The original series featured 34 races. Whilst Dick Dastardly and his Mean Machine never prospered, all other teams won at least 3 races, with none winning more than 4. This is an unprecedented level of competition, with less variance than one would expect if all the cars/drives were equal! The fact that the cars were all based on fundamentally different concepts makes this all the more surprising, and suggests that the current rigid technical rules that F1 follows may actually be counterproductive.
|The Boulder Mobile, The Slag Brothers||3||8||3||3|
|The Creepy Coupe, The Gruesome Twosome||3||3||6||3|
|The Convert-A-Car, Professor Pat Pending||3||2||5||1|
|The Crimson Haybaler, The Red Max||3||4||3||3|
|The Compact Pussycat, Penelope Pitstop||4||2||5||3|
|The Army Surplus Special, Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly||3||1||0||3|
|The Bulletproof Bomb, The Ant Hill Mob||4||5||2||3|
|The Arkansas Chuggabug, Lazy Luke and Blubber Bear||4||1||4||0|
|The Turbo Terrific, Peter Perfect||4||2||2||1|
|The Buzzwagon, Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth||3||6||4||4|
|The Mean Machine, Dick Dastardly and Muttley||0||0||0||0|
Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact points scoring system used. However, the data suggests that The Ant Hill Mob (4 wins and 5 second places) and The Slag Brothers (a record 14 podiums) are two of the most successful teams.
Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly make the least successful team based on the top results, with just 4 podiums. However, the data we do have indicates an incredibly close field, with every race being unpredictable.
Youtube channel Eddache calculated the results using the basic F1 points system, and found the following results:
I would dispute the logic of using a modern F1 points system on a show from 1968 (particularly given there were only 10 cars that would actually score points), but it gives further credence to the success of the Slag Brothers and The Any Hill Hob.
4) Fast and Fair Penalties
There were actually two races in which Dick Dastardly crossed the finish line in 1st place, only to be later stripped of his victory. On the first occasion he is accused of cheating by extending the nose of his car, on another occasion he wins in someone else’s car. Regardless of the reasons, on both occasions a decision was implemented quickly, with a correct outcome. Such things can not always be said for other racing series.
Wacky Races as a whole had a strong sense of justice and karma. Dick Dastardly would rightly be hailed as an all time great (perhaps even the GOAT) if it weren’t for his inclination to bend the rules/cheat. Instead, he sits the bottom of any list of Wacky Races greats.
When debating F1 greats, poor deeds are sometimes brushed aside, or even accepted as being part of what makes great drivers great. There are no such excuses in Wacky Races, which makes for a more wholesome series overall. Rules are generally respected, and if not rule breakers are punished.
Please read some of my more conventional articles too.