Speed Racer is a 2008 American sports action comedy movie written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers and based on the 1960s Japanese anime and manga series of the same name. The movie stars Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Roger Allam, Benno Furmann, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rain and Richard Roundtree. Take a look below for 27 more fun and interesting facts about Speed Racer.
1. The plot revolves around Speed Racer, an 18 year old automobile racer who follows his apparently deceased brother’s career. His choice to remain loyal to his family and their company, Racer Motors, causes difficulties after he refuses a contract offered by E.P. Arnold Royalton, the owner of Royalton Industries.
2. The movie was considered a box office bomb due to only grossing $93 million worldwide on its $120 million budget plus marketing.
3. Speed Racer was nominated in multiple categories at the Teen Choice Awards, and was nominated for the Golden Raspberry Awards.
4. After winning a race, Speed Racer jumps out of his car while it’s still moving and strikes a pose as his car slows and stops just behind him; in addition, the lights flashing in the grandstand behind Speed briefly dissolve into a red-yellow checkerboard background. This scene replicates the trademark pose of Speed Racer in the opening credits of the Speed Racer anime.
5. Speed Racer is the first time that the Wachowskis have filmed a movie in high definition film. With this format, they could utilize a layering approach that gave equal clarity to the foreground and background of each scene in the movie, creating the appearance of a real life anime.
6. Emile Hirsch was a big fan of the Speed Racer show, and used to watch it on Cartoon Network.
7. While the race cars are fictional, most of the pedestrian cars are actually based on real life futuristic concept cars. You can easily spot an orange Rinspeed E-GO Rocket parked nearest to the screen when Rex pics Speed up from school.
8. Keanu Reeves turned down the role of Racer X.
9. A working Mach 5 was built for the movie, along with several other full size cars, including Racer X’s Shooting Star. All driving scenes were filmed with the actors sitting in a gimbal, a racer car cockpit with a computer programmed hydraulic system.
10. According to producer Joel Silver, the movie was largely shot in greenscreen in 60 days.
11. To prepare for his role, Emile Hirsch watched every episode of the Speed Racer anime, and paid a visit to Lowe’s Motor Speedway, where he met and got advice from race car driver Jimmie Johnson.
12. The movie was a first in many technical areas, but two stand out: it was the first movie to employ the Sony F23 digital movie camera and also to record in parallel to Sony HDCAM SR for archive masters; and the first to employ Codex digital data records for on-set uncompressed HD playback, digital dailies and file generation for editing and VFX.
13. In the first race, where Speed is in the criss-crossing section with Rex Racer’s “ghost car,” their motion resembles the fighter plane attack maneuver called “Thach Weave,” invented by U.S. Navy pilot John S. Thach in World War II.
14. Japanese voice artists Katsuji Mori, Kiyoshi Kobayashi and Kenji Utsumi voiced Ben Burns, Mr. Togokahn and Pops Racer in the Japanese dub of the Speed Racer movie. All three also worked in the original Speed Racer anime.
15. J.J. Abrams wrote a draft of the Speed Racer screenplay.
16. Michael Giacchino used musical cues from the Speed Racer anime when he composed the score.
17. My. Royalton says that his drivers need to be able to cope with speeds up to 4G. Theoretically, a merry-go-round can generate that.
18. In December, 1997, Alfonso Curaon was briefly hired to direct the movie.
19. In one scene, “Spritle” wears monkey faced pajamas, while “Chim Chim” wears little boy faced pajamas.
20. Speed Racer is the last movie where the Wachowski siblings are credited as The Wachowski Brothers.
21. “Pops” is a great fighter in both the movie and the anime.
22. “Racer X” works as a secret agent, just as he did in the Wildstorm comics.
23. Race car driver Danica Patrick was reportedly offered a cameo, but had to decline due to racing commitments with Andretti Green Racing and the Indy Racing League.
24. In June, 2004, Vince Vaughn was going to produce the movie and star as Racer X. However, production never became fully active, so he left the movie..
25. The “Mach” series vehicles are designed, built and stored in the “Racer” family’s garage, just as they were in the Speed Racer anime.
26. The sub machine gun the gangster is holding Sparky at gunpoint with during the mountain fight scene is a World War II era “Grease Gun.” The Grease Gun was given to new recruits instead of the more expensive Thompson sub machine gun. It’s known to be reliable but extremely cheap and slow firing, making it an interesting choice for a gangster in a futuristic universe.
27. “Racer X” wears a black suit with a black mask in the movie, but he wore a white suit with a black mask in the Speed Racer anime.