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.




“Cars” origination on 66

Cars plaque

America’s highway, Route 66 warrants getting off the Interstate system and taking the back roads.

There are many websites that discuss some of the history of Route 66 and its significance to modern road travels beginning in the U.S. provides good insight and respective photos along and near the route.

As we “happened” to travel through Holbrook, Arizona we were surprised to see Route 66 influence there as well.

Since it was time to eat we stopped at a restaurant that looked like a typical Route 66-themed place.


Wow!  We had no clue about the connection of the restaurant and the town of Holbrook and the entire area toward creation of the movie “Cars.”


If you haven’t seen the movie “Cars” it is funny, entertaining and highlights a little of the historic changes along Route 66.  Check out the webiste for a movie trailer and additional information.  “Route 66 inspired the movie Cars, produced by Pixar and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. The working title for the movie was in fact “Route 66″. The crew traveled the old Mother Road quite a few times for their research. Route 66 experts acting as consultants guided some of these trips. Evidence of the research trips is found both in the movie itself and in several Route 66 businesses that were visited by the crewmembers.”

“Cars” research team contributed to their creation of the movie while at Joe and Aggies Cafe as evidenced in this photo in the restaurant’s scrapbook.

Radiator Springs?

The town Radiator Springs is fictional.  According to “There is no town anywhere along Route 66 called Radiator Springs. And yet, many a small town resembles it a lot.” One can readily see that then the Interstate  opened towns and businesses were significantly impacted.

“If you want to see Radiator Springs, you can either head to Disneyland and visit the fictional recreation Cars Land, or you can go for the real life version on Route 66.”

As we left Joe and Aggies, we were elated to see the influence in Holbrook alone.  Since it was later in the evening we didn’t get to travel around the other towns but I enjoyed seeing some of the “flavor” before heading back to the Interstate.

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I-40 heading west in Arizona

Before wrapping up the “Cars” impact and Route 66 I wanted to add a little modern day twist to racing.  Lightning McQueen was heading to a big race in California (Route 66 ends in California) when he rolled out of the back of the tractor/trailer and was lost as he rode to Radiator Springs.

Lightning McQueen eventually made it to the race which makes me think of Daytona in Florida, closer to home.  Daytona has one of its major races as part of the 4th of July celebration.  The race in 2018 is July 7 and is Coke Zero Sugar 400. ,

I’m not there but here are a few photos of the raceway.  Are you a race fan? I enjoy attending when I can or at least watching on TV.


Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida.IMG_4830



I wonder if Lightning McQueen will show at the race today if he was able to divert from Route 66?

All the best,


(All photos except as otherwise noted are by RonLin Photography for Tittle Thoughts.)