RaceThe Fire Festival Race
Speed and Racer X are the only ones to finish the race -- in a tie at that. (X is actually disguised as a dead racer named Kabala.)
OrganizationsLeague of Nations.
The scene opens at a meeting of The League of Countries, presumably the equivalent of the United Nations, where the countries are demanding that the kingdom of Kapetapek open its borders to the world. The country appears to be a mix between a rich Middle Eastern country and a South American Aztec society. The king refuses to open the borders saying they don't want strangers in their land. Other countries then accuse him of conducting secret weapons research, and so on.
Luckily, all the worlds ills can be solved by car races. The King of Kapetapek and the League of Countries decide that a car race will be held. If the Kapetapekan driver wins, their borders can remain closed. If a non-Kapetapekan driver wins, the borders will be open to the world. The League members are shocked to find that the Kapetapekan driver is none other than the fearsome Kabala.
Kabala disappeared years ago and has not been seen since. Soon after, our hero Speed receives a letter inviting him to take part in the Fire Festival Race in Kapetapek. Speed has a bad feeling about it and recalls a race where Car #13 -- Kabala's -- caused a car crash. Another race by the Amazon shows Kabala's car springing over the river so close above the head of a racer on a raft with his car, that the racer falls overboard and is eaten by piranhas. Ouch. However, it is not clear whether these are actual events or Speed's fears.
Soon after, the Go Team arrives in Kapetapek. At the start of the Fire Festival, the King announces that the winner of the race will marry his grand-daughter, Sirvana. Sirvana doesn't seem to happy about this, but Trixie is even less happy -- especially after the King says he thinks Speed looks like the bravest man in the race and wants Speed to marry Sirvana.
When people doubt that Kabala is going to show up for the race, the King takes them to his old, spiderweb covered residence. He shows them photos on the wall of racers. Each photo has a mark of a skull on the corner of it meaning, the King says, that none of the racers could race again. The King says after this race, these 2 photos will have the same marks: pictures of Speed and Racer X.
After the festival Kadar, with his trademark red lizard on his black crash helmet, and his other four team members attack Sirvana to find where the kingdom's treasures are hidden. Speed steps in, uses his expert martial arts, and quickly dispatches the gang. Sirvana reminds them that this is why her father wants to keep the borders closed.
The next day, the King has all the racers bring their cars by raft downstream to the start of the race. On the shore are bones of would-be treasure hunters who illegally entered Kapetapek. Finally, they arrive at the shore by a huge rock cliff. With his remote control ring, the King opens secret doors into the mountain. The race will take place under a volcano. When the volcano erupts, the race begins. When it erupts again, the doors to the mountain will seal for another 100 years. Everyone goes into the mountain to see the ancient city, which looks like an Aztec city with pyramids and so on, of the Kapetapek ancestors. While they're there, Trixie becomes jealous of Speed talking with Sirvana. After seeing this and returning to the surface, Trixie figures the Mach Five has to average 160 mph to make it through the course before the mountain walls close on the other side preventing any racer's exit.
The volcano erupts, and the race begins. As he gets further inside the mountain, Speed becomes trapped between streams of lava.
As Part II begins, Speed uses the auto jacks of the Mach Five to spring over the lava blocking his way. As he drives onward, he sees other racers have crashed and burned in the lava. He wonders what caused all the crashes. We viewers, however, have already seen that Kadar has run them off the course. Eventually, all the racers stop at a cliff because there is an underground lake blocking their way. They decide to return to the surface. But just then, the lake begins draining only to leave a huge four-legged monster standing there. It is a rock monster and without the support of the water begins crumbling and falling on the cars. Several get hit, but Speed makes it across the dry lake bed into a tunnel at the other side. As he continues, he drives through an underground petrified forest. Further ahead, Kadar and his team see that the walls of the cave contain diamonds. They stop and try to pry loose as many as they can. But then a giant octopus-like monster attacks them. They barely get away, and as Speed comes upon them, he has to use the Mach Five's rotary saws to cut through the tentacles trying to grab the car. Soon after, Speed comes upon the ruins of an underground palace filled with jewels. As Kadar and company try to loot everything they can Speed runs up only to find Kabala is there. As a fight between Kadar's team and Speed & Kabala ensues, it turns out that Kabala is actually Racer X disguised as Kabala. Racer X says that Kabala had taught him how to drive tricky mountain courses that other drivers never mastered. However, one day an avalanche caught Kabala off guard, and he was killed. To help his friend, Racer X donned his uniform so that he could protect Kapetapek from the looters of the outside world. But by this time, Kadar and his team have escaped with the jewels, but his four teammates get trapped on a cliff edge by a lava stream in front of them. They try to forge ahead but are washed over the edge in a lava flow.
Kadar races ahead only to end up in a lava pool himself. He could have escaped but doesn't want to leave the jewels behind. As he decides how to save them, a bubble of lava bursts shooting hot lava onto Kadar, and he perishes.
Elsewhere on the surface, Spritle and Chim-Chim have infiltrated a Kapetapekan religious ceremony. Chim-Chim is soon found out, and tied to a table under a huge swinging pendulum. After the locals leave him to his fate - the pendulum swings lower each time - a young boy unties Spritle in the nick of time.
The volcano has begun to erupt again, and everyone is tense since no racers have yet emerged. With inches to spare, Speed and ``Kabala'' emerge, and the race is a tie. Then Racer X admits to the disguise surprising everyone but especially the King, it seems. In the end, everyone decides a compromise is in order. Kapetapek decides to open its borders some of the year and leave them closed the rest of the year.
Of 96 racers startering the Fire Festival Race, only Speed and Racer X finish. Some backed out early on; some didn't make it out of the mountain.
[Doesn't this remind you of real politics? When all is said and done, why couldn't they have simply used common sense at the start??]
As a final note, the Japanese comic book version of this story is much different. Kadar and friends are killed by a monster rather than lava, Kabala is shot and killed by Kadar, and it is Speed who takes on Kabala's identity to finish the race. Unfortunately, I can't read Japanese, so I'm sure there are many, many details I've missed.