The Wacky World of Wacky Races

By Makenna Adams

Premeiring in 1968, Hana Barbara’s cartoon series Wacky Races follows 11 well, wacky, racers on their quest to win the title of “Wackiest Racer.” Each 20-minute episode, broken evenly in two segments, adheres to a similar format: a narrator describes the race, as a sports announcer would, throwing in witty jests and jabs about each of the characters as they make their moves in the race. Originally, the show ran from September 14, 1968, to January 4, 1969, but later aired in syndication from 1976 to 1982. 

As a kid, I watched old cartoons with my dad and younger brother. Snuggled in a giant blanket on the couch, eating my special Saturday morning breakfast (french toast), I looked forward to getting to watch Wacky Racers at the start of every weekend. My favorite characters in the show have forever been the notorious Dick Dastardly and his four-legged side kick, Muttley. Voiced by Paul Winchell, Dastardly humored me with his devilish antics, as he aimed to damage the other cars in the race with his own vehicle, fittingly named “The Mean Machine.” Yet his plans of race domination always seemed to blow up in his face—literally. Often, Dastardly’s favorite tricks involved dynamite, but they rarely succeeded. 

Fans loved Dastardly and Mutley so much that Hana Barabara was inspired to give the characters their own show. Dastardly and Mutley in their Flying Machine debuted in 1969, but only ran for one season. After seeming to disappear from the cartoon scene for a few decades, Dastardly and Muttley stepped into the spotlight once again; last year, with a brief cameo in the 2020 animation film Scoob!, the nefarious duo made a reappearence. 

To conclude—if you seek an old-school, easy-to-watch animation series and crave a dose of nostalgia, check out the wacky world of Wacky Races, available on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu.