From Batmobiles to BattleBots, NC Man built it all



A light twinkles in Ted Walters’ eyes as he gazes at the silver contraption parked in his garden workshop.

The partially built vehicle in front of him is little more than a metal frame, an empty cabin and four wheels. There’s no windshield, doors, or engine, but when Walters is done with that, he says it will be one of the fastest streetcars in the world.

“It’s technically a 1980 Chevrolet pickup on a NASCAR truck chassis,” Walters said. “I turn it into a complete street truck with no NASCAR rules. I’m trying to keep it at around 2,500 pounds with a 1,000 horsepower turbocharged engine, which NASCAR doesn’t allow you to.

Turning an old truck into a bloated street racer is the kind of project Walters can take on now that he’s retired. Well, partially retired.

“I still work in my workshop seven days a week,” Walters said.

The project itself may sound unorthodox, but not compared to some of the other bizarre automotive challenges Walters has faced in his career.

Using his sheet metal handling abilities, he helped build award-winning show cars, a 200-pound battle robot, and several acrobatic Batmobiles featured briefly in the Batman Dark Knight film franchise.

Wanting to be closer to many of his running friends, Walters, 63, retired and moved from his longtime New Jersey home to Rowan County more than five years ago. Although Walters brought his skills south, he first learned them from an unexpected teacher growing up in New Jersey.

“I was 16 when I was introduced to this crazy Russian named Gene,” Walters said. “He was in the Russian Army during World War II, repairing Russian planes that were used to bomb Germany. He moved after the war to the United States.

Gene taught Walters how to use an English wheel to transform flat pieces of metal into elaborate curved shapes – a skill that’s invaluable when crafting car fenders, hoods, and more.

“He was hardcore. It hit me, ”Walters said. “I think he basically knew 10 English words and seven of them were swear words.”

Walters said he immediately fell in love with metalworking. Like a sponge, he absorbed as much knowledge as possible from his Russian mentor and started working in auto body shops. In his mid-twenties, Walters decided to go it alone and started TRIX Rods and Racers in Toms River, New Jersey.

The company’s acronym, aptly, stands for Ted’s Radical Inventions and Experiments.

“I built some of the strangest things,” Walters said. “I’m the king of weird stuff.”

Among his anomalous creations are parade floats, traveling advertisements, and even a pizza truck. Perhaps the most unusual of his masterpieces is “BattleRat”, a robot he built in the early 2000s to participate in “BattleBots”, a reality TV show that features robots of different shapes. and sizes that are fighting each other.

Using a large hydraulic arm, BattleRat tossed opponents into the air or simply maimed them. Walters said BattleRat even made an appearance on the “Today” show.

Walters has also worked on many conventional projects, including restorations of vintage cars, trucks, and motorcycles. His “claim to fame” and his greatest pride is to be named Manufacturer of the Year 1981-1982 in the Northeast Division by the International Show Car Association. Walters built several cars that competed in arenas across the country and won a few other prestigious awards that now ring his mantle.

Walters’ reputation as a skilled metal manipulator and avid experimenter earned him a contract to manufacture Batmobiles for Warner Bros. He first built replicas of the Batmobile driven by Michael Keaton’s Batman that were shown in amusement parks across the country. At one point, Walters said his store was filled with several Batmobiles and looked like an auto production company just for Batman.

In the mid-2000s, Walters said he was drafted again by Warner Bros. to build some stunt replicas of the “tumbler” Batmobiles driven by Christian Bale in the Dark Knight trilogy.

Perhaps the toughest challenge of Walters’ career was the military-inspired tumbler.

“The biggest problem we had to solve with my engineering was that it had to be able to fly through the air for 20 feet,” Walters said.

Drawing on the expertise of friends who worked as naval engineers, Walters and his team figured out how to make sure the vehicle landed like an airplane, with its rear wheels touching first.

Building the Batmobile tumbler was not just a painstaking process, but a secret process.

“We had to put a limo tint in the windows we had, and no one was allowed to enter the store with a phone,” Walters said. “No one knew what it looked like.”

While Walters couldn’t keep the stunt Batmobiles he helped bring to life, he still has BattleRat stored near his Rowan County home – a dangerously fun toy that he still pulls out on occasion.

Walters may have cut back on the amount of work he’s done since moving down south nearly a decade ago, but he’s still taking jobs here and there for friends in New Jersey and elsewhere. . He also sporadically assisted some of his NASCAR friends as part-time member of refueling teams, especially as a fuel specialist.

“I’ve done gasoline for a lot of teams over the years,” Walters said. “I did five, six races a year. I’ve been doing this since I was 20. The rush of breaking through the wall when there’s a warning and you know the cars are coming, there is nothing more exciting. It’s an adrenaline rush. “

Walters even made a foray into NASCAR with his own team at one point.

Whether it’s shaping a metal door for a decades-old automobile or hanging out at local NASCAR tracks, Walters thinks and is constantly obsessed with cars. When he takes a break from working on a car in his workshop, he watches auto shows on television.

“I love what I do,” Walters said. “I am so passionate about this.”

As for his current Chevy truck project, Walters said he hoped to get it ready in time to be on display at the SEMA auto show in Las Vegas this fall.

More information on Walters’ work can be found online at rodsandracers.com or by calling 732-245-6369.



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