Speed Racer Is Basically Just A Pay Driver With A Famous Dad

Gif: Speed Racer

If Speed Racer were a real driver today, we would hate him for being a pay driver with a rich dad.


Hear me out. I’ve been mainlining Speed Racer with my husband. It’s my first time watching the original series since I was a kiddo, and I have to say: it holds up. It’s silly and fun and dramatic, and there’s nothing better than that combination. But I didn’t even really consider that modern racing fans would hate Speed until my husband mentioned it.

“He’s basically just a pay driver,” my husband observed as Speed tried to get Pops’ permission to drive the Mach Five. “But, like, one of the really obnoxious ones. He’s like Lance Stroll racing for a team his dad bought.”

I was in the middle of writing a story at the time, and I had to physically stop, close my laptop, and think about it.

“People would hate him today,” my husband added.

“I don’t know if he’s exactly Lance Stroll,” I argued. “He’s more Harrison Newey if Adrian Newey gave him a seat at Red Bull.”

“Whatever. People would still hate him.”

That was a few months ago, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it—although I think I’d amend my diagnosis from the Newey family to the Andretti family, albeit more reluctant. The Racers would be the Andretti family if Mario was disappointed by Michael’s career and tried to keep Marco from racing. Or something like that. I haven’t come up with a one-to-one comparison yet.


But for me, the point still stands. Speed is competitive to the point of being dangerous to himself and his competitors. He’s technically dating Trixie but doesn’t mind keeping an eye out for other pretty girls. He’s always getting himself into ridiculous situations. He has the best car on the field, to the point where it’s just silly. And he’s so damn good-looking. If he were racing today, Speed Racer would be enemy number one.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.


I’m embarrassed to say, despite being a massive anime fan, I’ve never actually watched Speed Racer. Though, I will say, Dexter’s Laboratory’s parody of Speed Racer is one of my absolute favorite segments from that show, ever.