Hot Wheels Highway 35: World Race is a series released by Mattel and animated by Mainframe Entertainment, to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Hot Wheels. It was broadcasted into 5 episodes, but was edited together into a made-for-DVD movie. The universe and story was created by Jeff Gomez.
It was followed up with Hot Wheels: Acceleracers in 2005.
Dr. Peter Tezla keeps failing to reach the end of a track in another dimension called Highway 35 to get a zero point energy source called the wheel of power, so he uses his Scrim Corporation to recruit drivers from around the world to compete in a world race to find out the best driver; this wins $5 million dollars for every member of the winning team. A 16 year old named Josef “Vert” Wheeler comes home from getting his drivers license on his birthday to find a Hot Wheels car in his driveway. Unique to the Deora II, it was a blue, orange and white vehicle with skateboards on the back and opened like a hatch from the front. Vert and other drivers find their cars along with Tezla’s message and use the GPS screen to reach the proving ground off of Highway 35. The building is located in what is assumed to be the salt flats around Utah shown in a future movie series.
Cars & Abilities
After further introduction, Tezla explains the cars and their unique abilities from the 5 teams. Wave Rippers cars use jump jets to fly into the air and hover above the ground like riding the waves. Scorchers have lava tires and plows to drive through lava. Road Beasts have a saw blade to cut through things, Dune Ratz have spiked sand tires that can gain traction in deep sands. Lastly, it’s not shown until later, but Street Breed cars can launch a radar system into the air that can show drivers how to navigate through a maze. All cars also have a grappling hook to save them from a fall, lift objects off the ground, and pull objects while driving in reverse.
Every car has Nitrox 2 boosters to make them go faster at opportune moments. Drivers would use this to go 300 mph to open a portal leading to another dimension with a race track built eons ago by Accelerons, gain speed for long jumps, catch up to other drivers in straight aways, and to open the portal on the way back to earth. At the beginning of a race, notice who is shown using Nitrox first or second to get an idea of what characters an episode is focused around. Vert will have screen time during all of the episodes as he is the main character, but the focus will also revolve around the leaders of all 5 teams that correspond to the amount of episodes there are in the movie. There are different legs of the race that also fit with the theme of the team leader that an episode is focused around.
To coincide with the toyline and movie, The Hot Wheels World Race video game was released. Developed by Climax Brighton and published by THQ, it was released in October 29, 2003, one month and 3 days before the release of the movie.
A series of 35 comics were printed and given away with Hot Wheels World Race die-cast cars. Each of the comics focused on a specific racer, often giving them backstory or difficult situation to get out of. It has the same character designs as used in the portraits, and thus look different from their movie counterparts.
Mattel ordered Starlight Runner Entertainment to produce the series in June of 2003, and had to release the first episode by November 2003. The team worked 16 hour days to complete the episode by the deadline. Mainframe Entertainment animated all the episodes.
Terrell Bobbett designed the characters along with Vincent Spencer and Nelson Blake.
Early characters designs were found by das_mittel in 2019, on a defunct Planet Hot Wheels promotional image. Jeff Gomez would later confirm the art to be from an early point in development for the movie, before characters were fully realized. The woman wearing a purple tracksuit was a completely scrapped character, not associated with any of the final characters.
A pre-rendered intro of an early World Race logo and early designs of the characters were found in the Hot Wheels: World Race videogame.
There are multiple scenes cut from the full movie, due to numerous reasons.
Previously On segments were shown before each individual episode after Ring of Fire, being removed in the final cut because of it being unnecessary in the full-length format. English versions of these have not been found because only the first episode has been found in English, on YouTube.
The same kind of introductory animation of Kurt Wylde can be seen very quickly in the start of a Ring of Fire trailer.
Another cut scene is during Episode 4, right before the Jungle Leg race, there was a montage of all the drivers. It has been mostly resurfaced in Spanish.
The series as a whole (World Race and all 4 Acceleracers movies) is rated a 7.1 on IMDb.
TV Guide's Robert Pardi gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, stating "...the vertiginous visual effects should delight speed demons of all ages." 
Reviews by Ripley on Almost Fabulous Movie Reviews, "The story is very thin and is really just an excuse to show cars racing around..." going on to say, "...Only recommended for young Hot Wheels fans."
John Sinnott of DVD Talk gave the movie a "Recommended" rating, criticizing the long length but recommending it to young viewers and Hot Wheels fans.
Marcel Duperreault, Kirk Furniss, Jason Fredrickson and Todd Araki were awarded a Leo Award in 2004 for Best Overall Sound in an Animation Program or Series.
- Series' creator Jeff Gomez based the series on a fantasy RPG campaign he created, titled "GLOBAL RUN: 2020".
- Several helmet designs were created for the teams, but were adjusted when Mainframe Entertainment adapted the character designs. The early helmet designs can be found here
- Hot Wheels: World Race (video game) - Wikipedia
- "The most difficult part of working on Highway 35 was that we were asked to produce the series in June, and the first episode had to be on store shelves in November! We hadn't even written a script! We worked 16 hour days for weeks and weeks to get the show done on time." - What was the most difficult part of working on the film? - Jeff Gomez Acceleracers Reddit AMA Retrieved September 21, 2019.
- Taro Kitano by Terrell Bobbett on DeviantArt
- Hot Wheels World Race (Playstation 2) - The Cutting Room Floor
- Hot Wheels Highway 35 World Race (TV Series 2003-2006) - IMDb
- Hot Wheels World Race Review | TV Guide
- Almost Fabulous Movie Reviews: Hot Wheels: World Race (2003)
- Hot Wheels - World Race : DVD Talk Review
- Mainframe and Studio B Win Lion's Share of Leo Awards | Animation World Network
- "Fun Fact: The Hot Wheels World Race storyline was based on a fantasy roleplaying game (like Dungeons & Dragons) campaign I created called GLOBAL RUN: 2020..." Jeff Gomez - Creator of Hot Wheels Highway 35 Universe - Ask Me Anything