Bent Cranium, known in the original animated series as Ben Cranem (Japanese: 大原 Ōhara Ohara), is a semi-recurring character in the Speed Racer franchise, best known as an automotive genius who had invented the GRX.
Speed Racer (1967)
Ten years prior to the events of the series, Ben Cranem had developed the GRX racing engine. Five test drivers had crashed attempting to drive it, one of which being Ben Cranem himself. Five years later, Cranem was buried at the Spook Cemetery along with the engine by Pops Racer.
During the events of the two-part episode, "The Fastest Car on Earth", Ben's son, Curly Cranem, attempts to gain the GRX for himself, believing that he has the right to it. Eventually, in Part 2, he got to be the GRX's driver for the Oriental Grand Prix, only to die in a horrendous crash after drinking water and developing tachophobia.
Speed Racer (1999 miniseries)
In Vol. 2 of the 1999 comic book miniseries by WildStorm, Dr. Bent Cranium appears for the first time visually. He is depicted as an elderly German man who is wheelchair-bound and is wearing a breathing mask and an eyepatch. Oriana Flub is also depicted as his personal assistant.
He was thought to have died nine years prior after his accident while test driving his A-RX prototype. As it turned out, he was alive, and the crash allowed Dr. Cranium to achieve anonymity and to conduct his research uninterrupted.
After Speed finished up on the wind tunnel test of the Mach G-Prototype, he is introduced at the test facility to Dr. Cranium, who unveils the E-RX engine as he then told Speed his backstory;
In 1942 during World War II, Erwin Rommel secretly appointed the young Cranium, who at the time was an engineering prodigy, to develop an efficient engine needed to run the "supertanks" developed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche to counter the Allied war machine, resulting in the creation of the RX 2160. After WWII ended, and without Rommel's protection (he was forced into accepting a death sentence by poison by the German high command threatening his family, with the death covered up by a false story of his limousine being destroyed by an enemy fighter plane), Cranium had some "identity complications", shown when he displayed a series of numbers tattooed on his arm to Speed.
Over the years, his foolish desire to test drive his own creations had left him in no condition to do so anymore, as evidenced by his state of being bound to a wheelchair pushed by Flub.