Former Ball State student creates Batmobile-building business

The Daily News

Several comic book fans take photos of the 1966 version of the Batmobile was parked outside of Alter Ego Comics during its grand reopening on Sept. 21. Mark Racop and a 15-person team replicate the 1966 Batmobiles. DN FILE PHOTO REBEKAH FLOYD
Several comic book fans take photos of the 1966 version of the Batmobile was parked outside of Alter Ego Comics during its grand reopening on Sept. 21. Mark Racop and a 15-person team replicate the 1966 Batmobiles. DN FILE PHOTO REBEKAH FLOYD

The year is 1967. A 2-year-old Mark Racop sits in front of the television, eyes bright as he takes in the action, the music and the color of his favorite show, “Batman.” Adam West, who played Batman, jumps into the Batmobile as the theme song plays in the background. Racop vowed someday he would own that car.

Fifteen years later Racop and four other 17-year-olds helped build his first ever Batmobile replica. They had no auto body experience and no tools. The only thing helping them recreate this automobile was sheer willpower.

Racop, now 48, is the proud owner of Fiberglass Freaks, located in Logansport, Ind. He and his 15-person team continue to replicate the 1966 Batmobile model — the one and only true Batmobile in his opinion — in their own 8,300 square foot building.

It’s incredible to see each Batmobile for the first time,” Racop said. “I still get butterflies when I step around the corner and see a finished car. It’s an absolutely awesome moment.”

Racop was licensed in 2010 by DC Comics to recreate these 1966 Batmobiles and has been featured in several magazines, television shows, catalogs and radio shows around the world.

Racop has professionally built 1966 Batmobiles for 10 years, and it’s been 30 years since the replication of the first one.

When Racop was a telecommunications major with a focus on film at Ball State, he expressed his love for Batman through another medium — film. He won the David Letterman Scholarship Award for a Batman film he created while in school.

Fiberglass Freaks has built 18 Batmobiles and have four more in construction. The process is more than a 1,000 steps long and takes about six months to complete. They start with a Lincoln Town Car and give it a new engine and transmission.

Then they construct a new fiberglass body from molds they created, sanding the body down before painting.

“My job is to make the cars flat. Gloss black is a painter’s nightmare, and the Batmobile’s long fins are the hardest part of the car,” painter and buffer Ed Merrill said.

Racop and his team are always looking to make new improvements to the Batmobile, which is fully equipped for daily on-the-road use. Whether it’s adding a feature or a gadget, they increase the accuracy and are always trying to make it better, faster and stronger.

The cars come complete with the red beacon light, an operational flamethrower and parachutes in the back. The replica is true to the original, sporting the bright red labeling in the interior with all of the levers and buttons. Of course, the driver also wields the power of the built-in Batphone and detect-a-scope, too. While the vehicles are modified as is, the team sometimes get requests to take the Batmobiles to a new level.

“One of my customers asked for confetti cannons in the triple rocket tubes behind the rear windshields,” Racop said.

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