NE Mod Site  Jan Garl Collection  via Dave Westerman

      It was already becoming a time when it was hard to find the pre - WWII bodies on most modified stock cars. As they had become gradually harder and harder to come by, these old coupes and sedans were being replaced first by Falcons, then by Gremlins, Vegas, Pintos, and the like. Inevitably, with the popularity of the Gremlin as a  body, race car manufacturers soon were not only making the racing chassis, but they were also designing and fabricating Gremlin - like bodies that used the latest in physics, aerodynamics, and technology.

     In the midst of all this, came the 1980 dirt week extravaganza at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. I have no working knowledge of how the Batmobile came to be, but I do know that - when it came to Syracuse with Gary Balough as the driver - it stood the dirt modified racing world on its ear. Balough had come in with Kenny Weld with this wild rig, supposed to be a Lincoln Continental bodied modified. It had very imaginative body design, utilizing the air rusing past it and through it.

       A write up for the Motorsports Racecar and Trade Show stated: "....he [Weld] and his co-creators – open-wheel race-car builder and metal fabricator Don Brown, former Northeast Modified driver and 1970 Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton and master engine-builder Mario Rossi – were doing was not going to be a waste of their time and efforts."  The excellence of the car was no accident or fluke of luck.

      I had the chance to talk to Balough when he briefly worked in my town a few years ago. I marveled at how he was practically lapping an entire field of the very best modified dirt racing had to offer. He muttered a little and allowed that the car, while really easy to drive that day, was not working at all up to its potential. DIRT, sensing a real problem with competitive balance, never allowed the car to race again. I got to see it when I was inducted into Weedsport in the 2000's. Gary again muttered that it hadn't been put back together correctly at all and that he didn't want to see it.

      Gary eventually went on his way, not being able to stand the cold in Vermont. We all know the flap about how the car was financed and the subsequent prison terms it brought about; but, there may never be another single car that had the effect on the dirt modified world that the Batmobile had. There are guys who think it would still be compeitive today.

Balough Collection via Lew Boyd
Gary and the Batmobile sit a pre-race lineup.
Speedway Nostalgia Site
Gary and the Batmobile sit a pre-race lineup.
Different angle.
Source Unknown
The Batmobile coming in on a very
unassuming open trailer.

Source Unknown
The Batmobile, in action. Either it WAS
that easy to drive or Gary is under yellow.
Vintage Modifieds.Com Site
This might be the most iconic photo of the Batmobile that day, perhaps in a pit stop.
The Batmobile coming iright at you.

Courtesy of Ron Wetzler
The Batmobile at Syracuse - from  the rear.
Stock Car Racing Magazine
Curious onlookers including
Barefoot Bob McCreadie check
it out with some of the skin
removed. Most looked at it like
it came down from a UFO.

John Gallant Collection
Mike "Magic Shoes" McLaughlin drives
for his life as Balough prepares to just
swoop on by.
Source Facebook [Sorry , all I know]
Gary Balough poses with a race queen
in front of the car. I apologize, I don't
know the other man.
Billy Gibson  Pinterest
Another view of the car at speed.

Rick Sweeten Photo via Three Wides
The Batmobile, apparently iunder caution.
Source: 360 Nitro Site
The Batmobile team, apparently.
Courtesy of Sam Barlow
Gary poses by the car.
Nerfers Corner Reloaded.WordPress.com
The Batmobile flashes under the
checkers for the most lopsided
win in Syracuse history.

Nerfers Corner Reloaded.WordPress.com
The Batmobile, lined up in front of
the whole field - where it would remain.
Nerfers Corner Reloaded.WordPress.com
The Batmobile chases down what looks
like the #60 car.
R. Scott Photo via Three Wides
The Batmobile flashes by.


Dirt Track Digest
The Batmobile, on display at the DIRT
HOF museum in Weedsport.

Roxanne Ladabouche Photo
Jerry Cook poses with the Batmobile. I was honored to be inducted into Weedsport with Jerry, as well as Dick Kozze, Irv Taylor, Doug Hoffman, and Ron St. Marie.

Ladabouche Photo
My rendering of the Batmobile. Having no background in dirt racing,  my students never quite figured
out why this was one of the drawings I made for them.
Guide Auto.com
A camera art piece on the car.
Jalopy Journal
The Batmobile, at some car show
Jalopy Journal
The Batmobile, at the same car show

One Dirt.com
The Batmobile, at some other display -
from the rear.
Road Authority.com
The Batmobile, at the same location -
from the front.
Betta Talk,com
The real Batmobile, made by George
Barris for the 1960's TV series. It started
as a 1957 Lincoln.


DIRT Photo
A DIRT promo photo of Gary Balough.

Speed Sport Photo
Kenny Weld, as a sprint car

Ladabouche Photo
MAn artist rendering of DIRT's major domo, Glenn "The Batmobile Has to Go" Donelly. A picture of him was surprisingly hard to find.
Flickr Photo Sharing
George Barris, creator of
the "real" Batmobile.


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