Speed Racer, Part 3


Speed Racer had a younger brother named Spritle (Kurio Mifune) who, along with his pet chimpanzee Chim-Chim (Senpei), constantly got into mischief by hiding in the trunks of cars.

Other regular characters included Sparky (Sabu ??), the company mechanic; Speed's father, Pops (Daisuke Mifune), a former wrestler-turned race car owner and builder; and his mother, (Aya Mifune); and also Speed's chaste girlfriend Trixie (Michi Shimura, ???? Shimura Michi). She flies around in a helicopter during each race and advises Speed Racer via a radio link to the Mach Five.

A frequent recurring character, driving car number nine (the "Shooting Star"), is the enigmatic Racer X (Fukumen (Masked) Racer), a mysterious soldier of fortune whose secret identity is that of Rex Racer (Ken'ichi Mifune), Speed's older brother, who years earlier had a falling out with the family and exiled himself. Rex left home estranged from his family and assumed the Racer X identity to pursue his racing career after arguing with Pops about it. He stayed in the background looking out for Speed Racer, often rescuing or assisting him. Racer X always left the scene unnoticed, receding into his secret life.

Speed Racer, along with Astro Boy, was one of the first truly successful anime franchise in the United States. The pivotal episode in which Racer X reveals his identity to Speed (The Trick Race) was selected by TV Guide as one of the most memorable moments in TV history. Many real-life race car drivers became fans of the show.

The title character was "interviewed" in a humorous series of promotional ads for auto racing that ran on ESPN. The Speed Racer characters even appeared in an animated commercial for the Volkswagen GTI. In the ad, entitled "Sabotage", Speed drives a GTI to victory after the Mach Five is disabled. The ad also incorporated the Matrix-style rotating freeze frame shot from the cartoon's ending credits, with the GTI replacing the Mach Five in the shot.

Speed, Trixie, Spritle and Chim-Chim currently appear in a North American TV commercial for the car insurance company GEICO. The commercial makes use of the show's original footage.

In the 1977 film Slap Shot, after arriving at their hotel room in Charlestown, one of the Hanson Brothers ask when is Speed Racer on in the city. It should be known that the Hansons, when they're not playing hockey, play with toy racecars.


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