SCI-FI GEEK: Hot Wheels

Admit it, you’ve done it. Rolling down the highway, humming that theme song to yourself: “Go Speed Racer, Go-oo!” Well, if you’ve got six figures to spare, you can roll down the highway (or an off-road track, anyway), singing that song, in the real deal: Speed Racer’s powerful Mach 5 race car. But you’d better hurry, the car’s up for auction on eBay, and bidding closes Thursday.

That’s right, we’re talking about a real-life version of the Mach 5 — Speed’s nifty car that could jump over canyons, drive under water, fly — everything but cure cancer.

“It’s awesome, it’s an absolute rocket, and it sounds just like it does on the cartoon series. The engineer spent five hours tuning the carburetor so it sounds just like it does when Speed Racer revs it up at the beginning of the show,” Ward Leber, CEO of the Child Safety Network, tells

Leber’s group, a nonprofit organization, will reap 20 percent of the auction price which, as of today, had reached $120,000. The car was built by engineer Mark Towle at a cost of about $350,000, and the final bid is expected to beat that by several laps, pardon the pun.

Sure, the car (which is far from street-legal) goes 185 mph, but what else can it do?

“It jumps, it has working saw blades, it has the homing pigeon and the periscope on it, that Speed uses when driving under water. We put every animatronic trick on the car that can possibly be done with current technology,” says Leber.

What’s that about a periscope?

“It actually can drive under water,” Leber says. “It just won’t drive out.”

So, what does Speed Racer himself think of the car?

We asked Peter Fernandez, the actor who voiced Speed and Racer X in the original cartoon. Much to our surprise, Speed hasn’t even driven the car.

“I haven’t seen it move,” Fernandez says, adding that he’s in no rush to get behind the wheel. “It has no safety belts.”

If you don’t win the auction, don’t fret. The company that built the Mach 5 is making more of them.

SUPER NEWS: Sometimes the best thing about reading Daily Variety isn’t the headlines but the fine print. Buried deep within Thursday’s front-page story about revivals of the “Terminator” and “Indiana Jones” movie series was a note that Warner Bros. has been meeting with potential directors for its new “Superman” movie (you remember, the one that Tim Burton was once supposed to make). For one, Variety says the studio has met with Ralph Zondag, director of “Dinosaur.”

Scott Speedman (© WB) WEB-SLINGERS: Forget A list guys such as Wes Bentley, Ryan Merriman, Tobey Maguire, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Chris Klein. They’ve been the main guys rumored in the past to be in line to play Peter Parker/Spidey in the upcoming “Spider-Man” movie from Sony, but this week The Hollywood Reporter says the actors who’ve been donning tights to actually screen-test for the role include names such as Scott Speedman (“Felicity”), Jay Rodan (who’s been in a film called “Caveman’s Valentine“) and James Franco (who plays James Dean in an upcoming TNT biopic). We’d give you our two cents on the whole matter, but frankly, we don’t know who the hell these guys are.

Men in Black” BACK IN BLACK: A limited-edition DVD of “Men in Black” will be released Sept. 5, featuring (among other things) an “editing workshop” that allows viewers to re-edit certain scenes of the movie with their remote control.

Sounds interesting; no wonder the retail price is $39.95.

SCI-FI GEEK is a roundup of interesting genre news and tidbits, appearing weekly on