The Asterix Project

Asterix and the Chariot Race (French: Astérix et la Transitalique, "Asterix and the Trans-Italic") is the 37th book in the Asterix series, and the third to be written by Jean-Yves Ferri and illustrated by Didier Conrad. The book is to be released worldwide in more than 20 languages on 19 October 2017 with an initial print run of 5 million copies.[1]

Much of the action takes place in Ancient Italy, where Asterix and Obelix meet the original inhabitants of the Italian peninsula: the Italics. Like the Gauls, the Italics are seeking to keep independent from Rome.[2]


Responding to criticism of the “deplorable” condition of Roman roads in the regions, Senator Lactus Bifidus proposes a chariot race across the Italic Peninsula to showcase the “excellent” roads. The race is open to all people of the known world. Julius Caesar endorses the race but insists that a Roman must win for the sake of unity across the Italic Peninsula.

In Gaul, Asterix and Obelix are taking Geriatrix to a dentist at a market in Darioritum, when a sibyl predicts Obelix will become a champion charioteer. Obelix then buys a sports chariot on credit, quits his menhir business and joins the trans-Italic race, accompanied by Asterix and Dogmatix. Over the course of the race, they encounter a range of competitors from other lands, as well as the people and cuisines of Ancient Italy.

Only five teams manage to complete the race, with the two Gauls narrow victors. Weary of the frantic pace of chariot racing, Obelix gives the trophy to Asterix, who hands it over to the Kushite team, who in turn give it to the Sarmatians. The trophy ends up with the perennially late Lusitanian team, who request the equivalent in sesterces. Obelix then declares he wants to return home and resume making menhirs.


Team Drivers Chariot motif Result Additional information
Gauls Obelix and Asterix Gallic rooster 1st - Winners Horses stolen from Romans in return for four menhirs. Victors.
Bretons Madmax and Ecotax Lions Retired Chariot sabotaged on leaving Parma.
Lusitanians Bitovamess and Undaduress Fish 5th Although always late due to chariot maintenance, and despite finishing fifth, they end up with the trophy.
Kushites Princesses Nefersaynefer and Kweenlatifer Cheetah hieroglyph 2nd Zebras pull their chariot. Kweenlatifer falls in love with Dogmatix.
Romans Coronavirus and Bacillus; Julius Caesar Aquila Retired The favorite, Coronavirus (real name Testus Terone), quits the race upon learning his co-driver cheated. Replaced by Julius Caesar, who almost wins but is immobilized by a pot-hole.
Pirates Redbeard and Lookout Jolly roger Retired They sink in marshes of Venexia.
Cimbri Zerogluten and Betakaroten Moose skull and antlers Retired Slaves of Bifidus, they sabotage many other chariots. Eliminated when Obelix crushes their chariot.
Sarmatians Tekaloadov and Wotaloadov Bear 3rd
Greeks Yudabos and Attalos Golden fleece 4th
Normans Skinnidecaf and Gamefralaf Shields Retired Quit the race because homesick due to good weather and civilization.
Persians[3] Unnamed Bull Retired Eliminated due to sabotage.

There are several other teams, including a Belgian named Outinthastix and his compatriot, two competitors who resemble Hells Angels, two Goths in a wolf-motif chariot, as well as Helvetians, Ligurians, Etruscans, and Calabrians.

Caricatures and references[]

Some of the characters in the book are obvious caricatures of real-life people. The innkeeper in Parma resembles opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, while the famous Roman masked charioteer Coronavirus is modeled on racing driver Alain Prost, and the garum tycoon Lupus is modeled on former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. French media noted that Nefersaynefer and Kweenlatifer resemble Venus and Serena Williams. Reviewers also noted a waitress at the roadside inn in Tibur resembles Italian actress Sophia Loren.

On page 24, the man sketching the race resembles Leonardo da Vinci. The statues and the mysterious beauty with the charming smile which Asterix and Obelix encounter in Florencia (Florence) are a nod to the city's later significance as the center and birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. The scenes in Sena Julia, where the racers are going in a circle searching for an inn, are a reference to the Palio di Siena and the Piazza del Campo.

While passing Pompeii, Obelix temporarily forestalls a catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.


The Sarmatian racers have names evocative of Russian names, even though the Sarmatians were an Iranian people rather than Balto-Slavic.