"Wacky Races" was created in response to the rather violent adventure/superhero cartoons of the previous two seasons, and even upon its premiere, it was blackballed by the watchdog group Action F...展开or Children's Television. They claimed that since it was bankrolled by game show producers Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley ("Hollywood Squares"), it was enticing children to place monetary wagers on the outcome of each of the show's 34 races. (Hogwash. I had the over/under on how many times Dick Dastardly's contraptions backfired on him.)
For all the atypical Hanna-Barbera use of repeat animation and low-budget movement, "Wacky Races" was still an unusual and entertaining cartoon which would beget such shows as "Bailey's Comets," "Laff-A-Lympics" and "Yogi's Space Race." A lot of the humor derived from Dastardly's machinations, although many of the other racers got to shine as well. In the Gold Key comics, Penelope Pitstop would eliminate Peter Perfect and Red Max by conveniently getting them to fight over her. That wasn't used in the show, although it should have. And it's dotted with great lines. When the narrator calls Dastardly "The Dracula of the drag strip," Dastardly counters "I resent that remark!" Narrator: "But do you deny it?" Dastardly: "No, I just resent it!" It's a comedy cartoon that doesn't forget it's a comedy cartoon, something that many cartoon shows of the 70s and 80s forgot.
And a bit of trivia, Dastardly did cross the finish line twice but was disqualified both times. The first time he extended the nose of the Mean Machine ahead of the others (yet in another episode, Rufus Ruffcut physically extended his neck to reach the finish line and the judges gave him the win--go figure). The second time, a chain reaction collision caused Dastardly and Muttley to get bounced into the Arkansas Chuggabug, which was in the lead. Dastardly also set a precedent the following year--being the first (and to anyone's knowledge, only) villain to get his own show, "Dastardly & Muttley In Their Flying Machines.