“Speed Racer,” an animated television program from the early 1970s, kick-started the love for racing for many children of that era – including me.
In fact, the Japanese animated series (Called “Mach GoGoGo” in Japan) was one of my favorite programs in my childhood – right up there with two other Japanese-produced programs – “Ultraman” and “Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot.”
It seemed every kid in my neighborhood wanted to grow up to be Speed Racer, and when we played with our Hot Wheels, our cars would repeat the stunts (such as jumping landmines, sawing through trees and driving under water) that we witnessed on the hit cartoon.
We also had plenty of “villain drivers” when we raced our Hot Wheels, and even a mysterious Racer X driver, whom even at a young age, I had a suspicion it was really Speed’s older brother.
Speed Racer has over the years become somewhat of a Pop Culture icon and the theme has been parodied in various movies, cartoons and even advertisements for Geico Insurance, Volkswagen’s GTI and auto racing on ESPN.
Many of you may have even seen the program’s “comeback” as reruns on the Cartoon Network and MTV in the 1990s, and even the SPEED Channel a few years ago.
Speed Hits the Big Screen
Writers/directors/producers Larry and Andy Wachowski – who you may be familiar as the creators of the groundbreaking “The Matrix” trilogy – bring audiences a live-action, high-octane film version of “Speed Racer.”
Based on the classic series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida , Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is a natural behind the wheel. Born to race cars, Speed is aggressive, instinctive and, most of all, fearless as he hurtles down the track, careening around, over and through his racing rivals.
His only real competition is the memory of the brother he idolized – the legendary Rex Racer, whose death in a race has left behind a legacy that Speed is driven to fulfill.
Speed is loyal to the family racing business, led by his father, Pops Racer (John Goodman), the designer of Speed’s thundering Mach 5.
However, when Speed turns down a lucrative and tempting offer from Royalton Industries, he not only infuriates the company’s maniacal owner (Roger Allam), but uncovers a terrible secret – that some of the biggest races are being fixed by a handful of ruthless moguls who manipulate the top drivers to boost profits.
If Speed won’t drive for Royalton, Royalton will see to it that the Mach 5 never crosses another finish line.
The only way for Speed to save his family’s business and the sport he loves is to beat Royalton at his own game.
With the support of his family and his loyal girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), Speed teams with his one-time rival—the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox)—to win the race that had taken his brother’s life: the death-defying, cross-country rally known as The Crucible.
Slated for release on May 9, “Speed Racer” marks the Wachowski brothers’ first writing/directing collaboration since “The Matrix” movies.
“Speed Racer” is a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, of a Silver Pictures Production, in association with Anarchos Productions.
Mac 5 Specs
Layout: Front engine, Rear-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 100 inches
Track, f: 64 inches
Track, r: 64 inches
Length: 200 inches
Width: 78 inches
Height: 45 inches
Power output: 1000 bhp @ 8500rpm
Max Torque: 1000 lb-ft @ 7000rpm
Mach 5 Performance Upgrades
From the steering wheel of the Mach 5, Speed Racer can activate the following features:
• Bulletproof polymer cockpit
• Tire shields
• Hexa-Dyno emergency spare tire
• Zircon-Tipped saw blades
• Tire crampons
• Remote controlled camera capable of transmitting U-CAP footage
Mach 5 Promotion
The studio reports that the live-action “Speed Racer” will showcase the kind of revolutionary visual effects and cutting-edge storytelling that have become the benchmarks of the Wachowski brothers’ films.
To help promote the film, the thunderous Mach 5, which can hit 0 to 60 in 2.7 seconds, was on display at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
Although the hood was kept closed for trade secret reasons, it’s reported that the Mach 5’s 8.0L quad-sequential turbocharged V-12 powerplant is capable of pushing out 1,000 brake horsepower (bhp) at 8,500 RPM, which allows the car to reach 300 mph.
Though no media personnel were allowed to try out the Mach 5’s special features, such as high-performance driving, slippery surface maneuverability and airborne launching, we’ll just have to wait like the rest of the country until May 9 to see how Racer Motor’s engineering feat passes the test on the track.
Go Speed Racer, Go!
Note: Special thanks to Erin K. Hillborn, Warner Bros. Pictures Publicity, for photos and vehicle information.