What do a gray squirrel that water skis, classic car movies on the world’s largest high-definition television set, and three generations of Batmobiles have in common?
They’ll all be at the Food Lion AutoFair, which runs Sept. 20-23 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord.
To cater more to families, the speedway, for the first time, will allow kids 13 and younger in free, with a paying adult (usually it’s 11 and younger). The Powerade Play Zone has also been expanded.
Located in the Nationwide Garage area Sept. 21-23, the play zone includes a petting zoo, pony rides, a Ferris wheel, a bounce house, face painting, wax hands, balloon animals and carnival games. The Fan Van will provide entertainment from 2 to 6 p.m. on opening day.
“We want everybody to enjoy the Food Lion AutoFair as much as we do,” Marcus Smith, the speedway’s president and general manager, said in a press release. “We listen to feedback from the fans and keep bringing in affordable family fun. This year, we’ve made the Food Lion AutoFair more kid-friendly than ever by adding movie nights and a water-skiing squirrel.”
Twiggy’s aquatic act has been seen by millions throughout his decades-long career. The famous squirrel will give several performances in Victory Circle Sept. 21-22.
The speedway also added its first AutoFair movie night. An AutoFair ticket stub is needed to enter the speedway for screenings.
“American Graffiti,” George Lucas’ hot-rod-heavy coming-of-age film, will be the first to debut on the 16,000-square-foot screen at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21. The same time the next night, Steve McQueen gets behind the wheel of his 1968 Mustang for one of the best car chases ever filmed in the movie “Bullitt.”
Then there’s the trio of Batman vehicles. Replicas of the 1966, 1989 and 2005 Batmobiles – as well as costumes and other memorabilia – will be on display during the four-day event. Fans can even get their photo taken while sitting inside the 1966 series car.
Batman first appeared Detective Comics No. 27 in May 1939. But not until issue No. 48, in February 1941, did the Dark Knight drive a red convertible the narrator refers to as the “Batmobile.”
Individuals and companies all over the country have been creating Batmobile replicas since the 1980s, according to a speedway news release.
During the next seven decades, Gotham City’s rolling arsenal morphed more than 100 times. The first Batmobile looked like a six-year-old Cord 810; later cars resembled a Studebaker. Some mimicked Jaguars, Porsches, Corvettes, a Mustang Mach 1 and even a Lamborghini.
Its first depiction on the silver screen was a factory-stock 1939 Cadillac Series 75 convertible. The second movie featured a 1949 Mercury convertible.
The Batmobile became a pop-culture icon during the campy late 1960s television series, which starred Adam West. Producers hired California car customizer George Barris to create the car. He transformed a retired Lincoln concept car from the 1950s into the Batmobile.
The car was so popular that Barris made three replicas to tour the country while the original stayed on the set.
The Batmobile from the 1989 movie “Batman” and 1992’s “Batman Returns” resembled a battering ram. Director Tim Burton said he wanted the car to represent strength, mystery and technological prowess.
Director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale reignited Batman history in 2005 with “Batman Begins.” Production designers imagined a completely original Batmobile.
Nolan suggested that the Batmobile combine the durability 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. Nolan insisted on having a real vehicle that could race through streets and perform stunts on camera.
A 30-person crew built six functional cars for $250,000 each. It was nicknamed the “Tumbler.”
You can see them all, and much more, up close at the AutoFair.