Mark Racop has been a huge fan of Batman since he was two years old, when he saw his first episode of Batman in 1967. He fell in love with the action, the music, the color, but most of all–with the car. Even at that tender age, he was thinking that someday…someday, he would own one.
Like many others, the 1966 Batmobile for Racop is the one and only true Batmobile. While he thinks the movie Batmobiles are nice, and some are even exceptional, he absolutely loves the graceful lines of this beloved car.
Fast forward to 1983. Racop bought a 1974 Monte Carlo, and along with five buddies, they tore the car down and began working. They cut the top of the Monte off, and started adding wood, foam, and steel to create the car.
Three summers later, Bat 1, version 1 was finished. Based on only four photos of the Barris #4 dragster car that were taken in 1976, an 8×10 of the #1, a Corgi Batmobile toy, and faded memories, the car attracted a lot of attention–but wasn’t the car that Racop wanted.
Fast forward to 1986. Racop’s father recorded all 120 episodes of Batman on VHS for Racop to study. Research began in earnest. Racop studied every instance the car was on screen. He saw the Barris #4 dragster car several more times as an adult. He saw the #2 car several times, also. Racop shot video of the #3 car and #4 cars. By this point, pages and pages of notes filled a 3 ring binder.
Fast forward to 1997. A handful of photos of the #1 car finally made their way onto this new service called the world wide web.
Fast forward to 1999. Racop tore off the back half of the car and rebuilt it. Along with bodyman Bill Mollencupp and later Mark Shidler and Jeff Sandberg, the car started to look much more accurate. By the summer of 2000, Bat 1, version 2 was ready to debut.
Then Racop saw the #1 in person. He took hundreds of high res photos and video of the car to prep for the next stage in his life…
Fast forward to 2003. Up for auction on Ebay was a mysterious car–the “Futura in the Woods.”
The “Futura in the Woods” was a non-driveable but beautiful replica sculpture of the 1955 Lincoln Futura made by famed auto body artist Marty Martino. Martino was a huge fan of the Futura, and was horrified to see that the original, one-of-a-kind show car was converted into the Batmobile by George Barris in 1965. He consulted Ford, who gave him dozens of photographs and drawings, and they supported his effort thoroughly. Perfect in every detail, Martino made a fantastic sculpture. Racop placed a bid of $2,125. He won. And so, Fiberglass Freaks was born…
Upon picking it up, he quickly realized that this sculpture needed a lot of work to restore it, but it would definitely be worth it. He brought it home and immediately set about making repairs and doing bodywork.
Three months later, he made a mold of the Futura. It wasn’t long after that his first fiberglass Futura body was made. The “Futura in the Woods” sculpture went into storage, and Racop went to work–converting the fiberglass Futura body into the most famous car in the world, just like George Barris did to the original metal Futura in 1965.
Racop purchased and remodeled an 8,300 square foot building that perfectly suited his needs. Using the high resolution photos taken of the #1 and an opaque projector, Racop was able to project the modifications directly onto the car and trace them perfectly. Using an extensive library of photos–Racop has over 100 gigabytes of photos of the car today (and extensive video footage of the #1), the modifications went smoothly. Bat 2–and a new mold–were completed in less than a year. Racop’s Bat 2 sold at an auction for $83,500. That same car later resold for a staggering $216,000!
In 2008, he shot and edited a documentary of George Barris about the #1, shot at Barris Kustom Industries in North Hollywood, California. Racop continued to archive the car with more high res photos of the interior. With his 30 plus years of studying the #1, he is considered one of the leading experts of the 1966 Batmobile. He often contributes insight, articles, and interviews on both the 1966batmobile.com and tothebatmobile.com message boards.
As the orders poured in, Racop required more space. He bought the building next door. Racop’s team of ten people work six days a week in two shifts to complete the cars. Quality is the number one priority. When you call, you are talking directly with the builders. Racop is happy to receive calls or e-mails, or better yet––drop by the shop to talk with him in person. He is not a moody artist; he is a professional that is always available to receive you.
Racop spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars researching, developing, designing, and building the molds, CAD designs, and parts for his cars.
All of this paid off in 2010, when Racop was awarded authorization by DC Comics to become Officially Licensed to build his 1966 BATMOBILE® Replicas.
Racop and his crew are currently putting the finishing touches on his twenty-second 1966 Batmobile replica.
Racop has been interviewed by various newspapers and magazines, on-line blogs, as well as radio and TV stations from all over the world. Videos and photos of his cars are all over the internet.
Always a student, always learning, always perfecting his work, Racop continues to do what he loves. You see, for Racop, building 1966 BATMOBILE® Replicas isn’t just his job–it is his passion.
Racop has given speeches at venues of all sizes across the mid-west. Using a Powerpoint presentation, he takes people on the journey from a 1970s Lincoln Town Car through a completed 1966 Batmobile, ready to drive. His speech is peppered with motivational help for those that have dreams but aren’t sure if they should–or could–follow them.
Please call the office to schedule Mark Racop as a speaker for your next event: 574-722-3237.