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Yes. The movie was inspired by an actual New York to Paris road race known as "The Great Auto Race of 1908" that began in Times Square on February 12, 1908. There were six cars entered representing 4 countries- The United States, Germany, France, and Italy. The actual race took 169 days and The United States won. As far as being historically accurate, Director Blake Edwards primarily used only the time period (1908) and a rough approximation of the race route for "The Great Race" movie. Most of the other memorable elements from the film- the zany over-the-top characters, the many fantastic vehicles and gadgets, and incidents such as crossing the ocean on an ice floe and the gigantic pie fight- were products of Edward's fertile imagination.
Yes and no. Although Blake Edwards and Warner Bros. were never involved in producing a "Great Race" cartoon series, Hanna-Barbera Productions did produce a Saturday morning cartoon series called "Wacky Races" that ran from 1968 to 1970. This cartoon series was inspired by and borrowed heavily from "The Great Race" film, and even featured characters that strongly resembled those in the movie in both appearance and personality- in particular, "Penelope Pitstop" (based on Natalie Wood's "Maggie Dubois") "Peter Perfect" (based on Tony Curtis' "Great Leslie"), and "Dick Dastardly and Muttley" (based on Jack Lemmon's "Professor Fate" and Peter Falk's "Max", respectively).
"The Leslie Special" and "The Hannibal Twin 8" cars were custom built for the movie and were fully driveable. As is often the standard procedure for movie and television productions, multiple versions of each were produced, including at least 2 "Leslie Specials" and at least 5 "Hannibal Twin 8's". As of April, 2014, one of "The Leslie Special's" can be seen in The Tupelo Auto Museum in Tupelo, Mississippi, and one of the "Hannibal Twin 8" cars (along with Professor Fate's lake torpedo) can be seen in The Hollywood Gallery of The Peterson Auto Museum in Los Angeles, California. In addition, both a "Leslie Special and a "Hannibal Twin 8" can also be seen at the Stahls Automotive Foundation Museum in Chesterfield, Michigan.
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