Tributes to Batman Tumbler, Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Headline Food Lion AutoFair Movie/TV Car Display
Cars inspired by popular television shows and movies will be on display during Charlotte Motor Speedway's Aug. 25-28 Food Lion AutoFair. They will be joined in the Showcase Garage by an exhibit offering 100 years of Chevrolet automobiles, the world's lowest street-legal car, armored passenger vehicles and extreme-performance rock crawler trucks.
The feature vehicles in the Food Lion AutoFair movie/TV vehicle display include a replica Batmobile "Tumbler" built by Bob Dullam, of Kalamazoo, Mich., and replica Mystery Machine, inspired by the Scooby Doo cartoon, restored by Richard and Wendy Lombardo from Myrtle Beach, S.C. Also featured in the display will be a Batpod motorcycle from the movie "Batman Begins" and a Light Cycle from the movie "Tron: Legacy."
Batty for the Tumbler
Uniquely designed cars do a great job of making a TV program or film more memorable, but the public seldom has a chance to enjoy such vehicles or even spot them on the street. When musician and guitar maker Dullam saw the 2005 movie "Batman Begins" and its 2008 sequel "The Dark Knight," he desperately wanted to own the caped crusader's new Batmobile. Unlike the hundred million other movie goers who fantasized about parking Batman's Tumbler in the driveway, Dullam fired up his Mig welder, drill press and reciprocating saw and made the dream a reality.
Since the start of the Batman legend in 1939, there have been several dozen versions of the Batmobile, each representing cutting-edge technology for the period. To complement the gritty urban conditions of Gotham City in the 21st century, "Batman Begins" director Christopher Nolan suggested the Tumbler's designers combine the strength and weaponry of a military tank with the agility and silhouette of an exotic sports car. Special effects trickery would give the bat-black car a pair of autocannons, a rocket launcher, downforce flaps and jet propulsion, but Nolan wanted a real vehicle able to race through streets and perform stunts for the cameras. Once the computer-aided engineering plans were approved, a 30-person crew built six functional cars at a cost of a quarter-million dollars apiece.
Dullam's Batmobile budget and working conditions were not so generous. In a two-car garage without heat, air conditioning or adequate lighting, and with no prior experience working on cars, Dullam performed all research, development and fabrication himself. He purchased and modified mechanical parts from racing equipment manufacturers and created Tumbler's Stealth bomber-like body from epoxy resin and fiberglass. Just like the Tumblers built for the movie, Dullam's car is powered by a mid-mounted V-8 and rides on Hoosier racing tires in front and Super Swamper off-road rubber in back.
Making the Mystery Machine
Dullam is not the only person motivated to own a car from a favorite movie or TV show.
People born in the final years of America's baby boom era began watching a Hanna-Barbera-produced Saturday morning program in 1969 about an easily frightened Great Dane and his four human companions called "Scooby-Do, Where Are You!" With no visible means of financial support or a clear mission, the quintet traveled the country debunking supernatural phenomena in a van known as the Mystery Machine. It had no special ghost-fighting equipment or gadgetry but introduced a generation to the flourishing custom van lifestyle. The aqua blue-and-lime green Mystery Machine served only as hippie-chic transportation for Scooby and the gang and its iconic image appeared on millions of lunchboxes and notebooks.
Forty years after Scooby conned Shaggy out of his first Scooby snack, the Lombardos bought a 1962 Ford Econoline van with plans to restore it as an advertisement for their Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based Custom Care auto upholstery business. Because the short-wheelbase, flat-nosed Ford reminded them of the Mystery Machine, the Lombardos chose to give it the full Scooby Doo treatment, replete with crazy paint graphics, ski rack and a flower-power interior.
Food Lion AutoFair
Hours for the Aug. 25-28 Food Lion AutoFair are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 per day for adults or $25 for a four-day pass; children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5. For more information on the four-day event, contact the speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.