It has been a long and winding road trip for Lightning McQueen, Jackson Storm and Cruz Ramirez but the star trio from Disney Pixar’s Cars 3 is in the homestretch as part of the cross-country promotional road show for the movie. After first hitting the highway with the “Road to the Races” nationwide tour, fans of #95 and friends have had an opportunity to get up close and personal with the five-time Piston Cup champion McQueen, sleek next-gen racer Storm and tech-savvy Ramirez.
After more than two dozen cities and thousands of miles logged on the speedometer, the road trip is headed into its victory lap this month in San Jose at the Westfield Oakridge Mall and the Sonoma Raceway before cooling the Cars’ engines. Regardless if it was Orlando, New York or Salt Lake City, the reception the tour received was amazing even when the weather did not want to cooperate.
Can you imagine standing in a line of traffic cones at an area mall parking lot in the pouring rain for a chance to see some of the “star-cars” from Disney Pixar’s Cars 3? Well that is exactly what took place at the Cherry Hill Mall in South Jersey as more than 1700 people donned rain slickers, boots, rain bonnets and umbrellas as part of the “Road To The Races” Tour. And no one really seemed to mind they were getting drenched as they experienced the fun of the event. Heck it is not every day you can seen Lightning McQueen in your neighborhood let alone snap a selfie with #95 in the rain.
“If that isn’t commitment or anticipation for the film, I don’t know what is” says Lisa Cabello from Disney Special Events, charged with the cross-country trek for the tour. The fact that so many people of all ages from youngsters in strollers to grandparents with walkers and wheelchairs braved the elements says a lot about the dedication fans have to Disney Pixar’s Cars franchise. It has been 11 years since we were first introduced to Disney Car-acters in the original movie and six years since the Cars 2 sequel. So it is no wonder people want a fill-er-up of the most beloved Disney Pixar characters on four wheels.
“Guests were out there, they were excited and they got to meet the characters,” Cabello adds. “We are bringing the characters to your neighborhood, your hometown and for some guests that is something that they have never experienced.” Cabello says for many fans this may be the first time they have come this close to a character from a Disney movie. Admitting that a trip to the Disney Parks and Resorts may not be within everyone’s reach, this really is the next best thing. “So to have these elements of our theme parks, is a joy we can bring to guests just a short drive away from where they live, that is why we do what we do.”
Disney Pixar’s “Road To The Races” roared to life at Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando on March 23rd and will have visited a total of 27 cities around the country by the time it crosses the finish line at the Sonoma Raceway in California. According to the event coordinator, every city the tour makes a pit stop the reaction of fans has been amazing. “This has been absolutely phenomenal”, Cabello adds “we are very happy.”
This tour is significantly bigger and different than the road show Disney conducted in anticipation of the Cars 2 premiere in 2011. The footprint for the new tour needed to accommodate not only the three life-size cars but also the Mack truck that hauls the vehicles as well as the other trucks that transport the sponsor tents and the Cinetransformer Mobile Movie Theater. A number of sponsors like Coppertone, Mattel, Alamo, Dole, Crest and Oral-B hitched their trailer to the tour providing fun for guests of all ages. In 2011, State Farm Insurance was the title sponsor for the road show.
The Cinetransformer theater is a remarkable venue unto itself. Completely air-conditioned with comfortable seating, this movie theater on wheels is more inviting than some local cineplexes. The theater can easily accommodate up to 80 guests for the 13-minute sneak peak into Cars 3. Upon exiting the theater you can mix and mingle with cast members at the various sponsor kiosks and of course have your photo-op with Lightning McQueen and his two new co-star-cars, race technician Cruz Ramirez and next gen-e-racer Jackson Storm.
The sneak-peak provides a glimpse into Cars3 which cruises into theaters on June 16th. Cabello lifts the hood on the new movie and shares that Lightning “is in a different place in his career, struggling, he is not racing the way he could before. He is at a crossroads, really.” That is where strong, smart and tech-savvy Ramirez enters the picture. It is her job to whip McQueen into shape and try to get him to face off with Storm at a level where he can really compete. Hot-shot rookie Storm has his headlights focused on #95 in an attempt to push living legend McQueen out of the sport of racing. It is no wonder when they are staged for the fans photo-finish, McQueen and Storm are parked at opposite ends of the Mack tractor-trailer.
The preview also features snippets of Brian Fee who makes his directorial debut with Cars 3 and John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. By the end of the clip, fans are clamoring for more and will likely start the GPS for the nearest theater showing the movie.
Traveling through the end of the month, the “Road To The Races” Tour has covered a lot of territory and has entertained thousands of fans of all ages with the magic of Disney Pixar. The tour crosses the finish line at the Sonoma Raceway the weekend of June 24th.