They may look like a raccoon, their closest relationship is with the giant panda. The giant panda is said to be a bear, for multiple reason, most of which seem to be same with the red panda. One major piece is that DNA studies show that red pandas represent a unique family that diverged from the rest of the Carnivore Order, and scientists place them in their own unique family: Ailuridae. They are, or were, part of the carnivora family because their intestines are longer - so meat can be absorbed better. Another thing is that, like the giant panda, red pandas sport a false thumb (which is actually an extension of the wrist bone).
In my conclusion, red pandas are their own sub-species.
One resource below.