Speed Racer's Mach 5 Makes National Debut at Pennzoil AutoFair
"Here he comes. Here comes Speed Racer. He's a demon on wheels." Just like the theme song promised, your favorite childhood cartoon will come to life when the legendary Speed Racer's Mach 5 race car roars into Charlotte Motor Speedway's Oct. 17-19 Pennzoil AutoFair.
Anyone who has seen a television in the last 53 years knows about Speed Racer and his animated adventures. The series, which launched in Japan as "Mach GoGoGo" in 1967, was inspired by two American films— Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" and the third James Bond installment, "Goldfinger." The cartoon combined Elvis' good-looking racing driver, a gadget-filled Bond car, and the life of an action-seeker. The show was an immediate hit internationally.
Kids were smitten with Speed Racer's beautiful racecar, the Mach 5, which could deploy one weapon after another when the situation called for something drastic. The Mach 5 could leap great distances, take a hit like Superman, and cut through a forest with its front-mounted buzz-saw. As the name suggests, it was also very fast.
In the early 21st century, aircraft maintenance specialist and software designer Barry Sinex bought a toy model of the Mach 5 and put it in his office. Like most children in the late 1960s, Sinex had spent many an after-school half-hour watching "Speed Racer" and had fantasized about driving his own impractical, insanely pointy roadster. That's where most of us would have left the idea—in fantasy land.
"Six years ago, I decided to build a full-scale, fully operating Mach 5 based on that model," Sinex said. "I bought a 1999 Corvette chassis, minus the body, on eBay. I spent four years building it, much of which was devoted to creating the unique carbon fiber honeycomb body panels. I used Kevlar on the doors, so there is a little more protection than what carbon fiber alone can provide.
"The body is incredibly light, and my Mach 5 weighs 800 pounds less than a complete '99 Corvette."
Not wanting to shortchange his childhood dream, Sinex paid careful attention to every detail. The bright red interior features Speed Racer's famously high-tech steering wheel with an array of buttons labeled "A" through "G." In the TV series, pressing a letter would deploy four jacks to raise the car, activate a deflector that would make the Mach 5 bulletproof and water-tight, give Speed enhanced night vision, or offer some other futuristic service.
In spite of its whimsical appearance, the Mach 5 is a fully licensed vehicle that Sinex drives on the roads near his home in Duluth, Minnesota. During all three days of the Oct. 17-19 Pennzoil AutoFair, the Speed Racer Mach 5 replica will share display space with Steve McQueen's Mustang from the movie "Bullitt", the Shark Roadster and Orca Special, a gathering of German-made Opel sports cars, a pair of crazy-fast Hennessey Performance products, and the "Best of the Best" customs from the national show car circuit.