Speed Racer Trivia 101 & FAQ
With "Professor Mom"

Let's take a little time and review some basic trivia any well-versed Speed fan should know. Shall we?!

And careful--I may just answer a few of your other questions along the way!

1. What does the "G" on Speed's shirt stand for?

2. But I thought the "G" on Speed's shirt stood for "Greg"?

3. What does the "M" on Speed's helmet stand for?

4. Okay, so what about the the "M" on Trixie's blouse and the "S" on Sparky's t-shirt?

5. What are the Japanese names of all the main characters?

6. Where did the characters American names come from?

7. How come I see "Spritle" spelled so many different ways?

8. How old are Speed, Trixie, Racer X, Sparky and Spritle?

9. Why is there such an age gap between Speed, Spritle and Racer X?

10. Where does the Racer Family reside?

11. When did "Speed Racer" first debut?

12. "Trans-Lux" presents. . . Oh yeah! I remember that. Do they still own the rights to "Speed Racer"?

13. Along with Peter Fernandez, who else provided the character voices for the American version?

14. What are the control buttons on the Mach V's steering column for?

15. What is the Mach V's license plate number?

16. What are "The New Adventures of Speed Racer"?

17. What is "Speed Racer Y2K"?

18. What is "Speed Racer: The Movie"?

19. Isn't there a live-action Speed Racer movie in the works?

20. Who holds the rights to Speed Racer today?

21. Where is Speed Racer currently airing on television?

22. Are classic Speed Racer episodes available on video?


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SPEED RACER is the property of Speed Racer Enterprises and the creation of Tatsunoko Productions.

1. The letter "G" on Speed's shirt refers to his Japanese name, "Goh", or more fully, "Goh Mifune". Incidentally, "Goh" is also a play on words in Japanese, since it is also the word for the number 5.

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~~On to Question #2~~

2. Yes, well. . . Back in 1985, when NOW Comics took to reviving the Speed Racer theme, founder Tony Caputo decided to impart meaning to the "G" on Speed's shirt by affording him the first name "Greg", after "Greg Brady" of "Brady Bunch" fame. As we will discover on our trivial tour, in the NOW Comics series, Mr. Caputo did provide a number of "answers" to otherwise unexplained Speed Racer elements. But all we purists still know what the "G" truly stands for.

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~~On to Question #3~~

3. Much like the "G" on Speed's jersey, the "M" on his helmet stands for his Japanese surname, Mifune. The "M" is commonly mistaken as a reference to the Mach V, but this simply is not the case.

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~~On to Question #4~~

4. Well. . .much like in Speed's case, the "M" on Trixie's blouse stands for Japanese name, Michi, and the "S" on Sparky's t-shirt stands for his Japanese name, Sabu. As it happens, Sparky is the only character with the distinction of having both his Japanese and English names begin with the same letter.

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~~On to Question #5~~

5. Speed Racer=Goh Mifune
Trixie=Michi Shimura
Rex Racer/Racer X=Kenichi Mifune
Pops Racer=Aya Mifune
Mom Racer=Daisuke Mifune
Spritle=Kuri Mifune Mifune
Inspector Detector=Rokugo Keibu

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~~On to Question #6~~

6. Peter Fernandez, the man who edited, wrote, directed and provided the voices of Speed and Racer X in the American version of Speed Racer, also selected the characters' American Names. He did not choose to reflect the initials already appearing on many of the characters' shirts, and instead decided to have some fun. Speed's name he called an "obvious" choice; Mom, Pops, Sparky, Chim-Chim and Trixie he simply made up. (Fernandez did not afford Mom and Pops "real" first names, nor did he afford Sparky and Trixie surnames.) Lacking ideas for Speed's mysterious older brother, he became "Racer X"; a.k.a. "Rex". Spritle was "sprite".

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~~On to Question #7~~

7. The correct spelling, as per Fernandez's designation, is indeed, "Spritle". Over the years, it has been misspelled many ways: Spridle, Spridal, Spridel, etc. Apparently, when the property was most recently acquired for licensing purposes, once again, this character's name was misspelled "Spridle". Therefore, you will occasionally see it misspelled accordingly due to legal compliances.

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~~On to Question #8~~

8. Speed himself is defined as being 18 years old.

The precise ages of Trixie and Sparky are a little less obviously defined, but they're clearly Speed's contemporaries, so it's reasonable to assume they're in that same general age bracket. In fact, as fellow Speed fan Locksley1 astutely points out, in Episode 48, "The Junk Car Grand Prix", Baron Von Vondervon sponsors his race in memory of his long lost daughter, Yvonne, who would've been 17; the same age as all the female drivers. Since Trixie wins this race, it's fair to interpret that she is essentially 17 herself.

Similarly, Spritle we know to be 7, going on 8, as he reaches his 8th birthday in "The Royal Racer" episode, making him approximately 10 years younger than Speed.

Similar to Trixie and Sparky, Racer X's age is not clearly defined. However, if we use the age model between Speed and Spritle as a point of reference, that would make Rex approximately 10 years older than Speed; or age 28 to Speed's 18. (Tommy Yune adopts an age model along these same lines in his Speed Racer comic series, "Born to Race".)

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~~On to Question #9~~

9. Ooooo! Good question! And, unfortunately, probably one that Mom Racer would simply reply isn't polite to ask. Simply put, this is one of those matters which isn't addressed in the 52-episode cartoon series. However, Tony Caputo of NOW Comics decided to define this by saying both Rex and Speed were adopted, as was eventually Spritle.

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~~On to Question #10~~

10. Again, another unanswered element in the classic cartoon series. However, you must have guessed by now that our friend Tony over at NOW Comics wouldn't leave this unanswered. Initially, he has them residing in Farmington Hills, Michigan, relocating shortly thereafter to San Francisco. In this version, Trixie can be found residing in San Francisco's Clairmont Hotel.

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~~On to Question #11~~

11. "Speed Racer" made it's Japanese debut in April of 1967. It was the first color animated series of Tatsunoko Productions, and was known as "Mach Go Go Go".

"Speed Racer" was then syndicated and brought to the United States by the Trans-Lux Television Corporation, who then hired Peter Fernandez to write and direct the adaptation. "Speed Racer" first debuted on American airwaves in September 1967.

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~~On to Question #12~~

12. No, they do not. In fact, the Trans-Lux entertainment division longer exists, which is why you generally won't see their logo associated with the American version of the show anymore, whether it's aired on television, available on video or DVD, etc.

The fact of the matter is, "Speed Racer" has passed through many hands over the years. Around 1969, Trans-Lux sold most of their children's programming syndication to Alan Gleitsman of "Alan Enterprises". Gleitsman did renew his license with Tatsunoko over the years, however, in 1986, he sold his entire library--including "Speed Racer"--to Color Systems Technology; a company that, in turn, went bankrupt in 1989. Their library was held in trust until later that year when Broadway Video (owned by Lorne Michaels of "Saturday Night Live" fame) purchased the library. In 1992, father and son team, Jim & John Rocknowski, acquired the rights to "Speed Racer" and established "Speed Racer Enterprises"; a.k.a. "SRE".

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~~On to Question #13~~

13. Peter Fernandez=Speed Racer, RacerX
Jack Grimes=Sparky, Chim-Chim
Corinne Orr=Trixie, Spritle, Mom Racer
Jack Curtis=Pops Racer, Inspector Detector

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~~On to Question #14~~

14. As outlined in episode #2--"The Great Plan", and again in episode #26--"The Car Hater", the control buttons on the Mach V's steering wheels operate the following fabulous features:

Control A: Auto Jacks
Control B: Grip Tires
Control C: Rotary Saws
Control D: Cockpit Deflector Shield
Control E: Special Illumination Headlights
Control F: Periscope with Cockpit Television and Oxygen
(used when underwater)
Control G: Homing Robot

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~~On to Question #15~~

15. The Mach V's license plates read as follows:


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~~On to Question #16~~

16. In 1992, following the successful airing of classic Speed Racer episodes on MTV, producer Fred Wolf (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, anyone?!), sought to cash in on audiences both nostalgic and new by licensing animation rights for a new series from the recently formed Speed Racer Enterprises (SRE). Unfortunately, little from the classic show--from the catchy theme song to overall character, animation style, and theme integrity--was maintained, and the revival was not well received. "The New Adventures of Speed Racer" debuted in September of 1993, and were limited to 13 forgettable episodes. In fact, many fans of the classic show prefer to overlook the existence of these episodes altogether.

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~~On to Question #17~~

17. Known alternately by American fans as "Speed Racer 2000", "Speed Racer Y2K" and "Speed Racer X", in early 1997, Tatsunoko Productions began debuting 52 episodes of an all new "Mach Go Go Go" on Japanese airwaves. These new Japanese episodes captured a bit of the classic feel of Speed Racer (less a few character changes), offering intricate storylines coupled with the sleek visuals of contemporary Anime.

In late 2002, translated and edited for American television by DIC Entertainment, the first 13 of these episodes (condensed from 17 Japanese episodes), known as "Speed Racer X" debuted on Nickelodeon. Hopes ran high for the translation and airing of additional episodes, but to date that has not been the case. Unfortunately, a licensing dispute arose between DIC and SRE, putting the proverbial brakes indefinitely on the future of "Speed Racer X" episodes for American fans.

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~~On to Question #18~~

18. During the summer of 1993, Speed Racer made its way to the big screen in a release entitled "The Speed Racer Show". Prompted by nostalgia for the cartoon, this eighty-minute feature was essentially nothing more than a couple of episodes from the classic series tied together; namely "The Car Hater" and "The Race Against the Mammoth Car". A couple of unrelated, yet relatively period-specific ads and cartoon shorts (ex: Colonel Bleep) were interspered purely for kitsch value.

When Family Home Entertainment began distributing this theatrical release in video form shortly thereafter, it was released under the title "Speed Racer: The Movie", which you can still purchase today on both VHS and DVD.

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~~On to Question #19~~

19. You could say that. . .

For at least the last 10 or 15 years, rumors have circulated about a live-action version of Speed Racer being produced for the big screen. As of this writing, Warner Bros. has possessed the rights to produce such a film for some time (since around 1989), originally with the likes of Richard Donner and Joel Silver in mind to direct the project. Over the course of time, numerous scripts have apparently been drafted. (In fact, some fellow fans have even read one such draft, abeit largely unlikely and futurisitic in nature.) Everyone from Tom Cruise to Johnny Depp have had their names dropped as potential candidates to portray Speed, however that seems rather unlikely at this point, since so much time has elapsed and many such actors are now in their 40s.

More recently (June 2004), rumors have begun to circulate anew that actor Vince Vaughn has intentions of reviving the project with the hopes that it could debut some time in 2005. The fact that functional, real-life Mach V and Shooting Star replicas began being produced a few years ago by Speed Racer Autoworks certainly doesn't hurt Vince's chances. For more detailed information about this story as it evolves, be sure to check out my section on Speed News.

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~~On to Question #20~~

20. Presently, worldwide licensing rights are held by the father and son team of John and Jim Rocknowski of California. Together in 1992, they formed the company known as "Speed Racer Enterprises", or SRE for short.

Ostensibly, Tatsunoko still holds rights to the Speed Racer property as well, but precisely where their interests begin and end compared to SRE, I've never seen clearly defined. (So please feel free to fill me in if you're "in the know"!)

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~~On to Question #21~~

21. Boy, oh boy. . . Speed can really be tough to keep up with in this respect!

Since the Rocknowski's acquired rights to the show and formed SRE back in 1992, classic episodes of Speed Racer have aired everywhere from MTV to Cartoon Network, the Speed Channel to local networks which have optioned the show. There has even been talk of making the show available via Broadband or airing it exclusively over the internet. The more contemporary "Speed Racer 2000"/"Y2K" episodes have aired on Nickelodeon.

Unfortunately, with a mere 52 classic episodes to his credit and only a handful of the "Y2K" episodes translated for American audiences, Speed isn't always the most attractive choice for contemporary syndication since, in many cases, the episodes would be rapidly cycled through in a matter of weeks were it to air, say, 5 days a week.

For more information on whether and/or where you can find Speed on TV, do check my section on Speed News from time to time, as I do attempt to post any reliable information there.

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~~On to Question #22~~

22. Indeed they are, and in various forms. For purposes herein, though, I'm going to stick to answering this question for American/English speaking fans.

During the early 1990s, several firms released a number of Speed Racer episodes onto VHS, including Family Home Entertainment (FHE) and NOW Video. Nowadays, many of these videotapes can be obtained on the secondary market, however, it should be noted that not all episodes were released during this period. (Also, FHE did release some of the "New Adventures of. . ." should anyone be interested.) Once again, "Speed Racer: The Movie" was first released by FHE during the period as well, and more recently has become available on DVD.

Then, during the Spring of 2001, SRE offered fans a "limited edition" release of all 52 classic episodes for the first time on VHS. This collection was hardly inexpensive (over $100), and limited to 1000 specially authorized sets. (As it happens, I hold set #101, and my children have set #110.) Shorty thereafter, during the late Summer of 2001, SRE announced they had procured the rights to provide a similar "limited edition" set of DVDs; again containing all 52 classic episodes and assorted other bonus features, including an interview with Peter Fernandez. As was the case with the VHS release, this was limited to a production of 1000 sets, released for a pricey $250. (Once again, I own set #101.)

More recently, Artisan (formerly FHE, the firm which continues to hold apparently exclusive optioned rights to release the show onto video) has released two DVDs (one each during 2003 & 2004, respectively): the first offering us classic episodes #1-#11, and the second containing episodes #12-#23. Being mass-marketed, these DVDs are much more affordably priced, generally in the $10-$18 range. Also, the first runs of these DVDs did come in "special feature" packaging, such as an authentic "rubber tire" sleeve, and flashing lights and theme music. These DVDs themselves offer bonus features as well, however, they are different features than are found on the SRE releases.

More recently still (2005), Lion's Gate (formerly Artisan) has released a third DVD, featuring classic episodes #24-#26. Whether or not future editions shall follow remains to be seen, and as always, updates to that effect will be posted under my Speed News section.


Now, allow me to close with a word or two to the wise for any fan who might seek to procure the SRE "limited edition" sets via the secondhand market. First, do note that the first 100 sets of each run--originally held aside for "exclusive" auction via SRE to "Pit Crew" members only--apparently otherwise made their way quietly for sale without fanfare, much less their intended special status. (Also, some numbered sets were known to have been presented to Joe Castille and Katy Kleinhans of SpeedRacer.com at one point in lieu of paychecks.) All such VHS and DVD sets were released with "Certificates of Authenticity", however, the certificates were computer generated and therefore--unfortunately--all too easily duplicated. Bootleg sets are rumored to be rampant for sale at places such as eBay, so do be sure you know what you're preparing to purchase and from whom. And whatever you do, don't let your drive to obtain Speed on video override your good senses by paying waaaay too much!

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~~Thanks for playing!!~~


Back to "Go Speed Racer! Gooooo!!!" Main Page

Are you a fellow Speed Fan who has a trivia question to share,
one you'd like answered or otherwise like to see me include?
Send me your suggestion!

SPEED RACER is the property of Speed Racer Enterprises and the creation of Tatsunoko Productions.