Speed Racer was always using gadgets to survive and win. His opponents had some as well, though not all of his opponents survived. Beyond raceday lap count, what were the rules? Were there any?
(Note: Info below is specific to the American, Speed Racer (1967) TV series only.)
As I remember it there were multiple episodes that had a rule infraction resulting in disqualification. However, many of the races were not held in a stadium, where Race Direction could easily monitor the cars. These races were Cross Country, where circuits (laps) are huge county-sized affairs, or even some Gumball Rally type races city-to-city. For these open-road races perhaps this quote sums it up best:
”You must observe Captain Terror's first and most important racing rule: Do everything to win! Stop at nothing, and if you have to break the law, break it!” (via here)
Also, in that era, racecar drivers were mostly independent amateurs, and could enter various leagues and one-off races with organizers who all had their own non-standard rules. (I’m reminded of James Dean driving his car up to a race when he was killed.) So logically, there is no standard rule-set for the entire original TV series, because it just was not indicative of the times - but there were definitely rules, because some of the episodes mention them explicitly.
However, in some episodes there are unsanctioned races where it’s recognized outright that anything-goes – no rules. (e.g. organized by a terrorist group to settle a feud and designed to kill drivers – last man standing - blood sport.)
Here are a few things I’ve found:
I can find only one explicit itemization of race rules. In, “Junk Car Grand Prix”, where the Baron Von Vondervon has them read out. He has organized a race to find a replacement for his long lost daughter. Trixie is entering for Team Racer. (S1:E48 @1:30.)
The driver of each car must be 17 years old.
She is allowed to have one assistant driver, a boy or girl of any age.
Each team must build their own car from junk.
Now for the course […a brief course is outlined.]
If any driver breaks a rule, she will be disqualified.
Speed wins the race in, “The Great Plan: Part 2”, (S1:E2 @20:50) but because of rule violation Race Direction canceled the results.
”Due to the tactics and interference of cars not officially entered, the results of the race have been canceled.”
And, this episode guide documents various references to race rules, but does not go into detail on what the rules are. A few excerpts below:
”Slick says he'll do whatever it takes, whether it's by the rules or not, but he better be paid well.” (S1:E3)
”Trixie runs up just before the race starts telling Sparky that the navigator must be the same in both races. Sparky jumps out, Trixie jumps in, and the race begins. As Sparky says he doesn't remember any such rule, Trixie turns around smiling saying he's right; she made it up!” (S1:E27)
”In the driver's lounge, there appears to be talk about an absence of rules in the race. Two unsavory racers, Scrounge and Shade get into a discussion which leads to Speed's defending his idea of what personal honor means to him. It leads to a fight which is quickly settled. Lovelace disguises herself as a man and maintains that sports are just a more complex way of fighting.” (S1:E51)
That is some low hanging fruit. I’m sure there are more examples of rules in the series.