Alas, Mike Road, who passed away this year in April. I found out about it only this morning, though, so I’m just as shaken as if it had happened yesterday.
Mike Road was the voice of Roger “Race” Bannon, super-secret undercover agent and bodyguard of Dr. Benton Quest and his son, Jonny. Quest had a PhD in just about everything and was perpetually developing ray guns or rocket ships for the government, so every baddie on the planet had a plan to capture him and slowly torture all his secrets out of him. These plans often include capturing Jonny because, hey, they’re bad guys. And that’s where Race came in.
Race was the Captain Kirk of the cartoon world. There was no situation he couldn’t get out of. Show him a sumo wrestler and Race would throw him across the room. Show him an unstoppable mummy and Race would shoot the hell out of it. Nobody and nothing was more badass than Race. There was no prison that could hold Race. He could get a boat moving so fast it would fly. There was no aircraft Race couldn’t pilot, no car he couldn’t drive faster than anyone. In one scene where a scorpion was threatening to sting Jonny, Race grabs the only weapon in the room, a bullwhip, and before using it to literally crack the bug into a thousand pieces, says something like, “It’s been a while since I’ve used one of these things.” Because of course Race knows how to use a bullwhip. That’s one of the requirements to become the ultimate badass.
It was critical for Race to sound exactly the way you’d expect a judo-chopping badass to sound, and Mike Road’s no-nonsense baritone voice delivered in spades. I don’t know how they picked the actor to give Race his voice, but it has to be one of the all-time great casting choices ever. His voice had such a distinctive timber that, for years afterwards I’d recognize him in television shows only after he spoke. At one point I’m pretty sure he did a voiceover for Timex that, for a brief moment made a dimestore watch seem as rough and ready as the ones the astronauts wore to the moon.
So long, Mike Road, and thanks for giving us kids of the space age a hero with a kick-ass voice.