When Speed Racer zoomed into American living rooms in the late ’60s, wide-eyed kids had no clue where it came from. It turned out to have been created by a Japanese comic-book artist named Tatsuo Yoshida, who spun Western influences like Elvis and James Bond into a manga series and television program called Mach Go Go Go. But Speed Racer didn’t truly take off until an American TV syndicator bought the rights and hired director Peter Fernandez to revamp it for a Western audience. Fernandez toned down the violence, changed the main character’s name from Go to Speed, and added that naggingly catchy theme song. The American Speed Racer debuted in syndication in September of 1967 and eventually became a cartoon classic, spending nearly two decades in reruns.