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Flashback: Rewind: Drat! Dastardly Dick loses again in cartoon car race; Wacky Races (BBC1 1968-1969.

Byline: Paddy Shennan

THEY were all wacky and wonderful in their own way - but whowas your favourite? Wacky Races, a hit Hanna-Barbera cartoon series said to have been partially inspired by the Jack Lemmon/Tony Curtis film The Great Race, saw 11 drivers vying for the title of "World's Wackiest Racer".

And just in case you need a reminder, let's look at the all-star line-up Number 00: The Mean Machine, driven by Dick Dastardly and Muttley, the dog with an unmistakable and highly infectious laugh. But despite having a rocket-powered vehicle which contained an armoury of hidden weapons, they didn't win a single race.

As DD said: "Drat and double drat." Muttley, however, always looked on the bright side. As he would say: "Hee hee hee hee hee." Number 01: The Bouldermobile, driven by The Slag Brothers (Rock Slag and Gravel Slag). The cavemen used their heads to great effect - the harder they hit them with their clubs, the faster their four-wheeled boulder seemed to move. Number 02: The Creepy Coupe, driven by The Gruesome Twosome (Big Gruesome and Little Gruesome). This curious contraption, which could fly, had a belfry which housed a dragon and other beasts. Number 03: The Convert-a-Car was controlled by Professor Pat Pending and could, as its name suggests, be anything he wanted it to be. Number 04: The Crimson Haybailer was driven - and flown - by Red Max, who sometimes felt the need to use its built-in machine gun. Number 05: The Compact Pussycat was, of course, driven by the ultra-feminine Penelope Pitstop, who seemed to spend as much time pampering herself as she did trying to win a race. Number 06: The Army Surplus Special - which came equipped with a cannon - was manned by Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly (and yes, their names did match their personalities). Number 07: The Bulletproof Bomb, aka The Roaring Twenty, was a 1920s-style saloon car driven by my personal favourites The Ant Hill Mob. The gangsters were led by Clyde and included Ding-a-ling, Zippy, Pockets, Snoozy, Softy and Yak-Yak. Number 08: The Arkansas Chuggabug was owned by hillbillies Luke and Blubber Bear and, to be honest, was pretty rubbish - basically a wooden effort powered by a coal-fired range. Number 09: The Turbo Terrific was a drag car driven by Penelope Pitstop's number one admirer - Peter Perfect. Number 10: The Buzz Wagon buzzed along courtesy of a lumberjack and, er, a beaver - Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth, who used buzzsaws for wheels.

Wacky Races - which ran to 17 episodes, with two races per show - was so successful that it spawned two spin-off series: The Perils of Penelope Pitstop (in which The Ant Hill Mob's Bulletproof Bomb reappeared as the Chugga-Boom) and Dastardly and Muttley In Their Flying Machines.

In the latter, Dick found himself in charge of The Vulture Squadron - which included Muttley, a bonkers mechanic called Klunk and the extremely nervous Zilly - whose sole mission was to, cue theme tune, Stop The Pigeon! ("nab him, grab him" etc etc) All very wacky. Perhaps even wackier than those wacky races.

But I still think they should have let the The Mean Machine win at least once


COMPACT: Penelope Pitstop; CAR WARS: Dick Dastardly and Muttley racing with Peter Perfect
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2005
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