Tow trucks from miles around responded to the scene of a one-car crash Thursday on Interstate 190 in Buffalo, New York — because the car that needed rescuing was the Batmobile.
The iconic car, known as "Buffalo's Batmobile," was headed toward the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center for this weekend's Nickel City Con when ....
A metal fitting on the radiator hose broke. Antifreeze spewed onto the hot engine, and a cloud of white steam thicker than a winter whiteout enveloped the car.
Robin, not in costume, was driving.
Chris Podosek of TV and Movie Cars For Hire, which owns the car, was following behind in a taller, heavier Chevy pickup and suddenly lost sight of the Batmobile, a wide, low-to-the-ground ride made of Fiberglass.
"When I hit the smoke, I didn’t know what it was at first," Podosek told The Kansas City Star. "It was like a scene in the movies where they hit the smokescreen. I couldn’t see anything.
"My first reaction was, 'He’s right in front of me, I’m going to hit him with the truck.'"
He slammed on the brakes, and when he made it through the smoke he could see the Batmobile to his right, spinning out of control on the road slick with antifreeze. The car slammed into the guardrail.
Podosek whipped the truck over to the shoulder and ran toward the Batmobile, driven by his business partner, Jett Yaskow, aka Robin. They rent out cars from famous TV shows and movies. They also own a General Lee from "The Dukes of Hazzard," a "Starsky & Hutch" Gran Torino and a "Knight Rider" KITT.
Yaskow, a Buffalo firefighter, was already running away from the Batmobile. "It put steam everywhere, and I couldn't see where I was driving," he told the Buffalo News.
Podosek called 911. When the dispatcher asked what kind of car was involved in the accident, he said, "a 1966 Batmobile."
When the dispatcher put out the call for help, it sounded like this: "You're not got going to believe this, but I need a flatbed for a Batmobile."
It seemed to Podosek that every tow truck in Buffalo showed up. "All I wanted to do was to get the car off the highway," he said.
The sight of the injured Batmobile made the evening news, incited jokes on Twitter and inspired dozens of obligatory "Holy Car Wreck, Batman!" exclamations.
People cried, too. The car, which Podosek and Yaskow have owned for four years, is a familiar and popular attraction at local fundraising and community events. People yell and scream at it at red lights.
The organizers of this weekend's comic convention want the owners to come to the show anyway because people will have questions about what happened and want to commiserate. The organizers have talked of having a grand parade with a police escort when the car comes back next year, Podosek said.
"It’s a fun car to drive, but you have to be on alert, because people will lean out of their windows on the highway driving 60 miles an hour to take pictures of it," he said.
Because Yaskow walked away with nothing more than a bump on his head. the guys can laugh about it. They had just taken the car out for the first time this season two weeks ago. They don't drive it during Buffalo's notoriously snowy winters.
"On the way to the NICKLE CITY CON The Joker cut us off and sent us into the guardrail!" the guys wrote on the company's Facebook page.. "We (the Dynamic Duo) are ok. Robin is a little banged up, but he'll be alright!
"The Batmobile is heading back to the Batcave for extensive repairs. Alfred sure has his work cut out for him!"
Photos show it sustained extensive bumper damage and scratches on the driver's side of the car. Podosek has no idea how long repairs will take. "You can't just take it to any body shop," he said.
In 2015 Forbes ranked all the Batmobiles used in films, and this one driven by Adam West in the TV show and its film adaptation came in second only to Michael Keaton's cinema Batmobiles.
"The Batmobile driven by Adam West in the 1966 Batman movie is truly a thing of beauty, with great coloring and a general, um, car-like appearance," Forbes wrote.
"It's also decked out with great pun-tastic gadgets like the 'Bat-tering Ram' (and slightly less pun-tastic gadgets like the 'Emergency Tire Inflator.'"
Buffalo's Batmobile, though, lacks one of those gadgets that could have come in handy on Thursday.
“There’s no parachutes on it like on TV," Podosek said. "If there had been parachutes on yesterday it would have stopped better.”