Chariot Race

Two horsepower is all they needed back then.

Media set in Ancient Rome will feature gladiators or chariot racing. If it's the race, expect it to be based on the one in Ben Hur. Expect the enemy to cheat, play rough, have illegal modifications, etc.

In real life, people rioted over their favourite teams, most famously the Nika riots of 532 in Constantinople. There were two major factions, the Greens and Blues, and while your loyalty to the Emperor might shift, your loyalty to your chariot team was set for life.

For more modern vehicular racing, see Wacky Racing.


Anime and Manga
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2: Battle Tendency, Joseph Joestar race chariot against vampires to gain the MacGuffin. The chariots are drawn by vampire horses! To nobody's surprise, the vampires cheat like there is no tomorrow.

Board Games
  • Avalon Hill's old Circus Maximus game was about chariot races.

Fan Works
  • In The Legend of Total Drama Island, Courtney and Heather get into a canoe race paddle battle that parodies a chariot racing scene from Ben Hur, wherein the racers took to whipping each other instead of their horses. Ezekiel and Lindsay are the obedient "horses" who continue to paddle whilst the alpha cats have their fight.

  • The race in Ben Hur, as noted, is the Trope Codifier, featuring Spiked Wheels (Messala's "Greek chariot"), Messala whipping his horses and any driver within range, if you're tossed from the chariot, there's a token attempt at retrieval.
    • Don't forget to check out the silent version of Ben Hur, preferably a decent print at the right speed. Apparently one of the more spectacular accidents in the original chariot race wasn't staged, and the stunt driver only barely escaped with his life.
  • It's more of a joyride between two good friends, but Commodus and Livius playfully race each other in the opening scene of The Fall of the Roman Empire.
  • The Star Wars Episode I: Film The Phantom Menace pod race is more than just a futuristic version of chariot racing: the sequence of the pod race and plot developments during it is straight out of Ben-Hur.
  • There's a little-known parody movie of Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments, where the obligatory chariot sequence has The Rival's chariot look like the Batmobile modified to serve as Darth Vader's personal tank.
  • The Prince of Egypt introduces us to near-adult Moses by showing him racing through the city with adoptive brother Rameses, creating various forms of havoc.

  • Assassins of Gor has Tarn races - basically the same thing, except with giant birds people ride.
  • Tanith Lee's novel Vazkor, Son of Vazkor, aka Shadowfire, has a chariot race that's an obvious homage to Ben Hur.
  • The Roman Mysteries book The Charioteer of Delphi has a mystery about someone trying to sabotage a chariot race. Like everything else about the series, the history was carefully researched and the portrayal of the racing is very accurate.
  • The Sarantine Mosaic by Guy Gavriel Kay has a subplot involving chariot racing, in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to 6th-century Constantinople.

Live-Action TV

Tabletop RPG
  • Runequest's Monster Coliseum had rules for chariot racing.

Video Games
  • In the Caesar games, you can build a Circus in your city to entertain the citizens.
  • Centurion: Defender of Rome features a chariot race as one of the mini-games.
  • There's an actual WiiWare game called Heracles Chariot Racing, which is a Mario Kart-esque Wacky Racing chariot game.

Western Animation
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Greece Lightning", the boys stage a chariot race through Danville's streets after learning about ancient Greece.
  • This happens in an episode of Care Bears set in Ancient Rome times.
  • Inspector Gadget helps one of his ancestors win a chariot race in the Time Travel arc of the series.
  • Back to the Future: Marty, Doc, Jules and Verne went to Ancient Rome, where Marty (as Marticus) had to enter a chariot race against Bifficus (Bifficus called Marty by an Ancient Roman expression translated by Marty's device as "Chicken") and had to lose for sake of space-time continuum because otherwise people would (according to Doc) revolt against Bifficus, which would prevent Caligula from becoming Emperor of Rome. Doc described it as key event to the end of the Roman Empire.
  • There was a chariot race in a Laff-A-Lympics episode. Dread Baron (Rottens) won it; Doggie Daddy (Yogis) got second place; and Dynomutt (Scoobys) made it third.
  • Motormouse and Autocat participate in a chariot race as part of scene in a movie being filmed with them in "Lights! Action! Catastrophe!" Naturally, Autocat finishes on the short end.