Every appearance of the mysterious Masked Racer on Speed Racer was greeted with this handy bit of exposition, breathlessly intoned by the all-knowing narrator: “Racer X! Unknown to Speed this is his older brother Rex who ran away from home many years ago.” The long-lost Racer sibling appeared frequently in the animated series and was a major character in the big screen movie adaptation, where he used his Masked Racer persona as a cover for his “real job” as an international secret agent — and to come to his younger brother’s aid when needed.
In the live-action flick Racer X was an officer working for the World Racing League, investigating the criminal and corporate elements involved in fixing races, but in the cartoon he was a full-blown secret agent in the globe-trotting mold of James Bond, often using races in other countries as a cover for espionage.
Whenever he appeared, Racer X was usually behind the wheel of the Shooting Star, a sleek two-seater of improbable design that was as powerful as the Mach 5. It came with the assortment of weapons and devices one would expect in a secret agent’s ride, including an oil slick in the cartoon, and, in the movie, four heavy caliber machine guns. And while they were never directly seen, it was apparent Number 9 had booster jacks similar to the Mach 5.
For the live action version, the design of the Shooting Star was toned down a tad, though it still kept its distinctive pointed-toe grill and yellow jacket color scheme. Above is the life-sized prop, one of several complete vehicles built for the movie.
Racer X was also seen driving a T-180 in the Fuji Helexicon. While it is not designated in the movie, the car goes by the name “Augury” in the Speed Racer video game. (Interestingly enough, while everyone knows Racer X’s car is called the Shooting Star, it is never actually named in either the cartoon or the movie.)
As with many other things in the live-action Speed Racer, the Wachowskis and the designers spent a great deal of time and effort paying tribute to the original, in ways only a hardcore fan will notice: in this case, Racer X’s T-180 essentially has a giant thorax, an homage to the massive trunk of the original.
Here the “Harbinger of Boom” takes out what appears to be a Type J car at Fuji.The designers clearly had some fun with the look of Racer X’s T-180, giving it multiple crossing lines. As with all T-180s, the Augury came industry standard with booster jacks and no weapons. Even though it only appeared in the movie for a couple of minutes, this car was one of the vehicles showcased in the DVD extra feature “Supercharged.”
Due to its key roll in the Speed Racer story, there are almost as many models and scales of the Shooting Star as there are of the Mach 5. Here are three of the 1/64 scale die-casts, including the Johnny Lightning version of the Japanmation design, and the Hot Wheels versions from the movie.
Racer X Car Numbers sighted: 9