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September 8, 2013

Holy anniversary, Batman!

Batmobile maker celebrates 10 years

Forget the Tumbler. Forget the Keaton 1989 Batmobile.

For Logansport native Mark Racop, there is only one Batmobile that counts — the 1966 Batmobile, built by George Barris for the classic TV show "Batman."

The car stole his imagination when he was 2 years old. After watching an episode of "Batman" for the very first time, he fell in love with the action, the music, the color — and the car. He made a vow that one day he would build that car.

Fifteen years later, Racop started building his first 1966 Batmobile replica out of a 1974 Monte Carlo he and five buddies tore down. Then in 2003, his company was born as he began building professional replicas of the car.

Racop's Logansport company, Fiberglass Freaks, has spent the last 10 years building replicas of the 1966 Batmobile at a rate of no more than four per year. Along with about 10 regular employees and five specialists in various areas of car building — like upholstery — Racop spends six months perfecting a usual car, though some take longer because a customer asks for special tweaks.

The company just delivered its 18th car. Now working on four cars with a completed one awaiting pickup, Racop and his crew are celebrating 10 years by throwing a mini-convention at the Logansport Mall on Saturday.

DC and Marvel comic book author Mark Waid is scheduled to be one of the special guests at the Batmobile mini-con, Racop said. A 1955 Lincoln Futura replica sculpture — the source of Racop's molds — will also be on display, as well as the first Batmobile Racop built as a teenager and one of the company's current replicas.

Racop, Waid and others will host several discussion panels throughout the day. Racop's collection of Batman memorabilia — costumes, props, toys, magazines, posters and photos — will be shown, too.

Through it all, you'll have that theme song running through your head — Nana-nana-nana-nana BATMAN!

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