What we learned from the guy who builds $250K Batmobiles

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We met the guy who made the Batmobile. His name is Mark and he lives in Indiana.

We were celebrating Free Comic Book Day at our local shop, Aw Yeah Comics, and Mark was there with one of his 1966 Batmobile replica. It had a a “Bat Beam” button, and an “Emergency Bat-Turn Lever.”

Even as a kid, I recognized that the original Batman TV-series starring Adam West was cheesey. I loved it. The corny jokes. The word sounds–Bam! Pa-Zow!! Bat shark spray. Bat-everything. But the Batmobile was just plain cool, so to see it, or at least a pretty darn good replica, of it was awesome.

Mark Racop, the owner of Fiberglass Freaks, stood a watchful yet not hovering distance from the car. As Harper, 8, and I walked toward the store’s entrance, we stopped to talk to him. I asked if he was with the Batmobile.IMG_4199

He confirmed that he was and then launched into an unexpected motivational soliloquy that went something like this:

I built my first Batmobile with a few friends in 1977 when I was 17. I never knew it would become this. DC officially licenses us to build replicas. There was a one-in-one-thousand chance that my hobby would become anything. Whenever I get a chance to talk to kids, I always tell them to follow their dreams.

“How much does a Batmobile go for?” I asked, wondering if it was outfitted for car seats.

“$125,000 to $250,000,” Mark said, as matter of factly as superhumanly possible.

To which I thought, “Holy shit, Batman!”

When I first started chatting with Mark, I thought I was talking to a grown man with a quirky hobby. But when I realized I was talking to a grown man who builds cars that cost quarter-of-a-million dollars, I took him more seriously.

I’m not sure why, but the numbers made me see Mark differently. They shouldn’t. Because before Mark had a business building replica Batmobiles, he did it because he loved to do it. No doubt society looked at Mark as a quirky kid with a silly hobby who should probably find something more productive to do with his time.

I can relate. Before I earned a living as a writer and speaker, I was a quirky kid with a silly hobby, and a lot of people told me I should probably find something more productive to do than travel around the world and write stories for ten bucks a pop. My asking Mark what a Batmobile cost was the equivalent of the questions I’m often asked: “What’s your day job? What does your wife do?”

Yet even I judged Mark this way.

Why is it that as a society we’re so quick to dismiss someone’s passion instead of supporting it?

Mark builds Batmobiles. And they are freaking awesome! That’s enough on its own for us to celebrate him.

Mark is proof that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our passions and hobbies. We should embrace them and we should support the passions and hobbies of our family and friends regardless of how quirky.

If you want to buy a Batmobile and have the funds to do so, check out Mark’s site Buy Bat Parts.

More Batphotos below the break…

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