Speed Racer is a cartoon from the 1960s that was initially created by Tatsuo Yoshida, a Japanese comic book artist. Yoshida was influenced by James Bond and Elvis as he set about creating the main character for his Japanese series. The program was called Mach Go Go Go. Soon an American syndicate bought the rights to the popular anime program and hired director Peter Fernandez to change the cartoon so that it might appeal to U.S. audiences.
After eliminating much of the violence from the Japanese version, Fernandez changed the main character's name from "Go" to "Speed." A catchy theme song was created, and the American version aired for the first time in 1967. Speed Racer instantly became a classic, watched by millions of children each afternoon. For almost 20 years, the American version of the cartoon aired on TV five afternoons a week.
Speed Racer is the story of a young race car driver named Speed who has thrilling adventures in his quest to conquer the racing world. A variety of characters support him in his goal, including his parents, Mom and Pops Racer, his girlfriend Trixie, his little brother Spritle, his best friend Sparky, and the family's pet chimp named Chim Chim. A mysterious race car driver named Racer X plays a large part in the series as well.
Speed Racer's famous car is called the Mach 5. It was built by Pops Racer, who maintains the car along with the mechanic named Sparky. The ingeniously designed Mach 5 is equipped with a dizzying array of features that allows Speed to defend himself against any obstacles or villains that happen to cross his path. These specialized components make Speed Racer's car one of the most intimidating cars on the racing circuit.
Throughout the cartoon series, Speed Racer battles villains as he participates in prestigious car races around the world. Sometimes Speed loses races on purpose in order to rush to the aid of a stranger. Other times, he wins races as he helps the character Inspector Detector.
Speed Racer's friends and family are supportive in his efforts to become the best race car driver in the world. For example, his girlfriend Trixie is a helicopter pilot who flies her chopper above the ongoing race. Whenever Speed needs help avoiding underhanded competitors, she is always there to assist him.
Spritle and Chim Chim often slip into the trunk of the Mach 5 when no one is looking. They have also been known to get Speed out of a jam, popping out at just the right time. Sparky helps with last-minute car repairs to help Speed get back into a race. Pops is often loud and overbearing, but always supports Speed, while Mom is the traditional cookie-baking mother who loves to take care of everyone.
Racer X is the most enigmatic character of all the people surrounding Speed. None of the other characters realize that Racer X is really Speed Racer's older brother Rex. Rex ran away from home years ago after an argument with Pops. Determined to prove to Pops that he could be a first-rate car driver, Rex perfected his craft over the years. Using his secret identity Racer X, he is feared and respected by all other race car drivers. He also works as a secret agent for the International Police.
The characters populating this particular animated series have intrigued children since the show first ran on television in the 1960s. A feature length-film based on the series was released on 9 May 2008, and a new version of the cartoon airs on cable. People who love the original series can also purchase the cartoons on DVD.