Route 66 Cars Connection Continues

Well, I finally get the chance to follow up with my “Cars” connection along Route 66.

As I was saying, the Route 66 influence for the movie “Cars” shows up in various places as the movie researchers traveled through the small towns in the whole region. Following the movie the influence is worldwide.

The character “Tow Mater” inspired a number of look-a-likes.  This one was seen north of Jacksonville, Fla. during a leisurely ride along U.S. 17 going northward, near Yulee.  (RonLin Photography)

Remember Radiator Springs in the movie?  It is actually a fictional place but is influenced by a number of actual places along Route 66 from Kansas to Arizona.

I can’t describe these locations sufficiently since I couldn’t visit all of them so I’ll resort to online research and use some of their material.

Excerpts from Wikipedia

“The setting for the town of Radiator Springs is situated between Gallup, New Mexico and the Sonoran Desert in California. Radiator Springs’ position in relation to I-40, as shown on a map during a flashback in the 2006 film, is similar to that of Peach Springs on Arizona State Route 66.”

Wikipedia mentioned the village is a composite of multiple locations.  Pixar sent out a group of artists with the Carburetor County Sheriff and Oklahoma historian Michael Wallis as a guide to take photos, talk with Route 66 residents and learn the history of the small towns. I’m sure that was a fun assignment.

I provided the link for those interested in learning more about the areas visited by the crews.  I think it is interesting.

I want to highlight one of my favorite characters on Cars – Tow Mater.  Beside Lightning McQueen it seems he has generated a lot of look-a-likes and special interest around the country.

The character “Tow Mater” inspired a number of look-a-likes.  This one was seen north of Jacksonville, Fla. during a leisurely ride along U.S. 17 going northward, near Yulee.  (RonLin Photography)

According to Route 66 News, Tow Mater – the tow truck voiced by Larry the Cable Guy in the film, is a composite of NASCAR superfan and non-Route 66er Douglas “Mater” Keever of North Carolina; Dean Walker, a mover and shaker at the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association; and Harley Russell,  owner of the Sandhills Curiousity Shop in Erick, Okla.”

Tow truck in Holbrook, Arizona at the Wigwam Motel that reminds travelers of Tow Mater. (RonLin Photography)

Another location along Route 66 that is interesting is Seligman, Arizona.  There are unique little shops and stores that represent the era when Route 66 was a bustling route.  The town became innovative to compete with change caused by the Interstate.

Webiste describes how the town managed, and what the locals say about Route 66.

Local residents petitioned the State of Arizona to name Seligman the “Birthplace of Historic Route 66,” arguing that the town is the first stop West along the “longest uninterrupted stretch of historic route 66.” According to showrunner, John Lasseter, “Radiator Springs”, the fictional key location in the hugely-successful Pixar animated film Cars, was “loosely base  on Seligman.”

When you see some of the images in Roadtrippers website they too remind you of the influence of the entire area toward creating the Cars movie.

Today, Seligman is a popular spot for those traveling the practically vanished Route 66 trail.  At least some of the towns are still proud of their heritage and remain active.

The Seligman Chamber of Commerce states: “Whether you are looking for good food, friendly people, interesting photo opportunities, or just a little fun you’ll find it in Seligman.”

Seligman, AZ cars - Chamber of Commerce
Some of the local vehicles in Seligman, Arizona remind you of Cars movie characters.  (Seligman Chamber of Commerce photo)

According to the Chamber, many visitors refer to Seligman as “a delightful town”, “a step back in time”, “eclectic”, “a really cool pit-stop” and “one of the high spots of the Route 66 trip”.

“Seligman is a favorite stop for tour buses as well as individuals on road trips traveling the longest stretch of Route 66 or taking I-40 to the Grand Canyon.”

As I researched the influence along Route 66, I’m reminded of the extent creators of movies go to in order to build their story line.  I’m impressed.




9 thoughts on “Route 66 Cars Connection Continues

    1. Thank you so much. I’ll look forward to your posts as well. There is soooo… much that I wasn’t able to visit and see. I’ll have to schedule another trip in the area again, maybe a couple, and maybe take more time.

    1. Thank you! I could really dig into more of these characters and the influence for the area but I suppose people will become bored at some point. I’m working on more of the historical aspect now and hope to post very soon. I’ll then move on to some of the other interesting areas into Arizona.

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