In the world of “Cars 3” Lightning McQueen and his fellow racers are assisted by their pit crew teams. These helpers can be the difference between winning and second place. The same can be said for real life racing. What happens when you take 6 crewmates, toss them into a loud, hot, hectic environment. Then throw in an 850hp racecar
hurtling towards them at 55mph? You get a NASCAR pit crew! These teams are trained to do in less than 15 seconds what us regular drivers take 15 minutes, on a good day! While on a Disney*PIXAR junket for “Cars 3” I had the amazing opportunity to experience a very lite version of what these teams do. Thanks to the folks at Performance Instruction and Training (PIT) we were able to suit up, grab the socket wrench, and go through just about the same motions as the real teams, without the gasoline and moving cars.
The visit to PIT starts of with a very informative presentation that covers the history of the NASCAR pit crews, the specific roles and responsibilities of each position, and what you can expect to experience later on. Everyone involved is either an active member of an active NASCAR pit crew, or was one. These guys really know what they’re talking about and they take it very seriously. We were part of a faily large group, so they broke us up into 6 different teams. Safety is of paramount importance, so we were setup with a suit, gloves, hearing, and eye protection. They led us out to pit row, where we were given live demonstrations of each position and the chance to practice a couple of times to get a feel for how the equipment feels. These are real NASCAR tires and wheels, real gas can (no gas), even the jack is authentic. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at the air-powered wrench and I was able to fill that spot for the team. Team 2, Lightnings Lugs, rear wheel changer… yeah that’s me.
Like I said, there were 6 different teams, so of course there had to be a little competition going. There are 3 cars set in position, so 3 teams at a time can run the drill. They lined us up in place and blew the whistle to start. Now on the first attempt all you want to do is be accurate and not make a big mistake. Slow and steady they said. Sure enough we all started moving into our positions and executing our assigned roles. It’s really a fast paced ballet with every move choreographed. Wrench on, lugs off, tire off to the right, new one handed in from the left, position on hub and power the lugs back on. Jump up, kneel down, lugs off, wait for jackman, tire off to the right, new tire in from the left, lugs on, back away. In about the time it took to read that, a professional pit crew can change 4 tires without gas. Our apprentice crew of first timers took a little under 2 minutes on our first attempt. All told not a bad time they said. We head back to the garage to review the video with our crew chief.
This really helps because we can see exactly where we can save steps and be more efficient. We were able to perform another 3 pit stops and in the process our time went down to just over a minute. We may not have been ready for Charlotte Motor Speedway but that was some serious improvement. Our team may not have won (congratulations Children of the Forest,) but we all had a fantastic time.
Lug nuts off
PIT is an active pit crew training school with graduates working for major teams, however they also use the pit experience as a way to teach team building, build improvement processes, and teach lean concepts to numerous businesses including the U.S. military. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in their program I would highly recommend it.
Now I had a better understanding of what happens on pit row, but what about on the track? Thanks to our Disney*PIXAR hosts and Charlotte Motor Speedway I was going to find out. Officially called the “NASCAR Racing Experience” you are able to ride as a passenger with a professional racing instructor in a real NASCAR race car. For 3 laps, at speeds of 175 mph or more, you get the chance to really feel what it’s like for the driver athletes who race for a living. I’m a driving enthusiast. My motorcycle is a performance model, my car is as well. I’ve been on closed tracks where you can “open it up” for a bit. Nothing, and I mean nothing compares to the feeling of that NASCAR dropping in to turn 1 at speed.
The engine is roaring and you hear the small pieces of track debris hitting the body, reminiscent of scenes in “Cars 3”. The driver gets into the groove and your body is just pushed to the right against the 5-point harness. Everything you’ve done before tells you that the car is going to spin out, but the driver, aerodynamics, and racing tires do their jobs and you simply run through until you exit onto the back straight. Charlotte is a tri-oval, so this dance happens 8 more times until before you know it you’re pulling in to pit row and the experience is over. A fistbump of thanks to my driver and then it was time to work my way back out of the car.
The Experience is offered in many different levels and price points, from 3 lap ride alongs, to full 40 lap solo racing sessions. It’s probably a good thang that I don’t live anywhere near the Charlotte area, because I would be spending lots of time at the track. If you’re at all interested in racing, or would like to give someone a gift that they will forever remember, the NASCAR Racing Experience is unforgettable.
PIT Instruction and Training
156 Byers Creek Road
Mooresville, NC 28117 [email protected]
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. South
Concord, NC 28027
As part of our continued coverage of the upcoming release of Disney PIXAR’s CARS 3 on home video in Digital HD and 4K Ultra HD on October 24, and Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on November 7, we’ve been granted insider access to some of the people responsible for bringing this work to life.
JAY WARD the Creative Director of CARS 3 started with PIXAR Animation Studios in 1998 as a production assistant working in the art department on the 2001 feature film “Monsters, Inc.” Shortly thereafter in 2001 he was promoted to coordinator and began early development work on he 2006 film “Cars.” Jay already had real knowledge of the automotive world, which gave him the ability to fill various production roles, including character team manager and automotive consultant to the director and co-director. After Cars he went on to manage the art department for “Ratatouille” and “Brave.” Jay’s automotive expertise led him to become a major contributor on the Disney-Pixar feature “Cars 2,” and he was also a consultant on the creation and production of “Cars Land” at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. He continues as a contributor to everything in the “Cars” franchise.
RAY EVERNHAM (voice of Ray Reverham) grew up in New Jersey, and remembers playing with small cars in his driveway at an early age. Unlike other boys who wanted to be firemen or astronauts, Ray always knew that he wanted to be a driver or involved with cars. He started racing and working on cars at the age of 15, and spent the next 20 years as a driver, competing with the likes of Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Darrell Waltrip, and Bill Elliott. In 1992 he became the crew chief for Hendrick Racing team #24, Jeff Gordon. In 7 years as chief he led the team to three NASCAR Cup championships and 47 Cup victories, including two at the Daytona 500 and the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After the 1999 season, Ray retired from the crew chief position and moved on to the even greater challenge of team ownership. Leading Dodge’s return to NASCAR racing, Evernham was able to develop a car, engine and parts distribution program for Dodge’s entire NASCAR presence. With Bill Elliott driving, Evernham’s team won Dodge the 2001 Daytona 500 pole position in their first Sprint Cup series start in almost 20 years. Since 2007 when he sold his ownership of Evernham Motorsports, Ray has been active as a broadcast TV racing analyst with SPEED, ESPN, and NBCSN. He co-owns, co-produces, and hosts his own TV series with Rick Hendrick, “Americarna” on Velocity. in 2014 he joined Hendrick Motorsports as a consultant member of the executive management team. In 2015 he was nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Question: Can you tell us about how Cars 3 got started?
Jay Ward: We knew after Cars 2 we wanted to tell another story and we also knew we wanted to get back to sort of more the roots of Cars 1, a McQueen story. We also knew what people love about Pixar films is they love that emotional journey of a character and the transformation of a character. So that was the impetus. That was the beginning and then we thought, “Okay if we’re telling the story about McQueen he’s already a hero, he’s already great at what he does. What do we tell?” So we started with a comeback story. Kind of more like a Rocky 3. He gets knocked down by the young guy and does he get back up? That would have been great movie, easy story to tell, but what we found along the way, what was more exciting was telling a story about mentorship, and telling a story about paying it forward, and telling a story about telling somebody who had limited themselves in life. That, “No you are good enough. You can do this.” So that was how it started.
Q: You guys had lot of pressure, right, to make sure that the sequel lives up to the first one and the second one? It’s almost kind of the trilogy of Cars. Kind of like a race car driver comes full circle. So how much pressure were you having to make sure that this is isn’t a dud?
JW: Well it’s hard because PIXAR Films are held to a different standard, you know. There are studios that make animated part 2,3,4,5 and people are like, “Yeah it was alright.” but we can’t get away with that. People hold– for good or for bad, they hold us to a really high standard. So there’s a lot of pressure on our movies. It has to have a great story #1. Any film can look beautiful, but not any film can tell a great story. You have to feel a sense of wanting to connect with that character. Luckily we had people who had this love of Cars and this connection with Cars. It did add a lot of pressure of telling a story that was special, and that’s why our films take so long. I mean yes, technically they’re challenging, but it really is about getting that story right. No way around it.
Ray Evernham and Jay Ward
Q: Was it harder with that emotional roller coaster that Pixar always puts you on to maintain that Pixar level, but also get everything right for Cars and NASCAR and everything?
JW: It’s the challenge of any of our films. John Lasseter’s big word is authenticity. Whatever world it is, it’s gotta’ be authentic. Like for Nemo people had to go Scuba Diving. They had to go under water. They had to see what it looks like to look up from underneath the water. It’s different right? For Wall-E they studied so much stuff about space and all– I mean just every film you go to exhaustive research. Including for this film, because Cars is a known world. People know it. We all drive Cars and we’re familiar with them. We can’t get away with just making stuff up. More than that, John’s a gear head. So that’s where I come in. John’s like, “I want all the details right.” My job is to get all those things right. So that the car guys go, “Hey they got that right. That sounds correct, that’s looking right.” Yet the person who doesn’t know anything about cars is like, “I love this movie. That character was so cute.” It’s got to work for both, yeah.
Question to Ray Evernham: Did you have input? Like was there anything that you wanted to see that you kind of said, “Can you make this happen for my character, work within the movie?”
Ray Evernham: I didn’t have that kind of input. What we did was just sit and talk a lot. We talked a lot, and the Pixar team asked a lot of questions, and I told a lot of actual stories of how things worked. It was amazing to see them take that and be able to adapt it into the characters. They would send me something and say, “But what do you think about this?” Especially with Jackson Storm. After being in NASCAR and racing so long I saw the tendencies of Cars were going right. They’re getting lower, they’re getting wider, they’re getting sharper. The aerodynamics are coming from the bottom and the tires are getting wider, and the profile’s changing. We just talked about all those things and, and they made notes, after notes, after notes and, and just kept bringing it to life.
JW: Oh he did. I mean honestly. We knew Jackson Storm was supposed to look like the future of NASCAR. The idea was to make Lightning McQueen look old, which is hard to do ‘cause he looks good. He looks cool, but he had to feel like yesterday’s news all of a sudden. Like when Jackson Storm shows up it’s like, “Whoa he’s totally– this guy’s from the future.” Right? And that’s kind of like what we’re thinking about with Jeff Gordon as a Racer who Ray was the Crew Chief for. There’s one a day a young kid shows up that’s just better than you, you know. What is that like? That was in the design. So when we show designs for Ray we said, “Ray what does a NASCAR look like 20 years from now if you can make it up?” And he’s like, “You guys are on to something good.” So he did help.
Q: How hard is it to find a balance in the Pixar movies that will draw in children, but the parents want to watch it too?
JW: John’s always said that we don’t make children’s films. We make films that work for children and adults. If you start out by saying, “We’re going to make a great children’s film,” then that’s all you’ve made. If you make a great film, a really good film, it’s going to work for all ages. If you think back before we had a film rating system, if you go back to the 40’s or 50’s every film had to work for all ages. You couldn’t put stuff in them that you could put in them now. You can watch The Wizard of Oz as an adult or as a kid and you enjoy it. That’s what I think we strive for with PIXAR. Is to tell great stories that work for all ages and you want to watch it more than once because you’re going to see something you didn’t see the first time. I have young kids, and my kids like watching movies the over and over again. So even if I’m not watching, if I’m driving them and I hearing them, I’m still laughing and still remembering things and that’s pretty special. You don’t get that with all films. There are some kids films that we watched and even my kids will watch it once and then they’re good. They liked it, they walked out, “Hey that was fun.” They’re not going to buy that on Blu-Ray or DVD. They don’t want to see it again because there were some alright some gags and it’s done, but a great story they want to see again and again.
Q: What was it like seeing some of the stories and part of your history up on the screen?
RE: It’s been a fire hose of emotions in some ways because it’s at the end of my career, and having a young child you know I got kind of a blended family right? There’s 24 years difference between my children, and my son is on the autism spectrum at 26 years old. I have a 2 year old and it just seems to be lucky enough to have been involved. This project has brought them closer together, and I understand that a little bit more. Sometimes when I watch the movies with them I learn as much myself about my career. So in some ways when I look at Lightning, you know that’s Jeff Gordon. I’ve watched him through his career. But then through this movie you know some of the lessons that Lightning had to learn about the emotion, and the relationships, and that people were more important than winning the races and the trophies. Because when that’s gone you just had stuff, without the relationship with people it didn’t mean anything. So I actually found out more about my life and my career and, and I think that, that working on this movie has helped me appreciate my adoption into the Hall Of Fame more than had I not.
JW: When we started research and we went to a NASCAR race you realize how visceral it is. You see that these cars are so loud and so powerful and so impactful that you can’t help but sort of be moved by it, even if you’re not a racing fan. I also think the other thing people sort of assume is “Oh NASCAR, a bunch of good ‘ol boys going around in a circle.” It is so difficult, and it is so technical, and it is so strategic. Everything about it is strategy that you realize it’s multi-layer. Again, you can’t judge a book by its cover. And that’s what CARS 3 tells and that’s what I think the world of NASCAR is too. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
CARS 3 in HD and 4K Ultra HD on October 24
Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on November 7th
The #KeepGoodGoing Award honoring the best #mom and #dad on social media.
The #KeepGoodGoing Award in partnership with New York Life honors a #mom or #dad who is passionate about their family, and uses social media to help and inspire others to do the same. Do you know someone whose lessons have helped to keep your family going, even in the most trying times? Whether they’ve been sharing stories and tips on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or anywhere else online, help us find the moms and dads who have kept their families – and others – focused on the positive in life. Who helps you #KeepGoodGoing?
So thats why I need you’re help if you have a twitter account I need you to get out there and help me win this award!
When you’re a parent safety is the #1 factor… shortly behind that comes easy of use. Living in manhattan you take certain things in stride – like I’ll just hold my baby instead of carrying a carseat into and out of every taxi from FiDi to the Upper East Side. Truth is we dont lug those things around because of the pain in the neck that is it to always put them in to and out of cars… which is why when my son hit 4 years old (he had already met all the other height and weight requirements) I was happy about moving over to a Clek Olli booster seat.
This is super cool in looks – ease of use is second to none… as long as your car was made in 2003 or newer (select 2001 & 2002) – you have the latch system and its easy peazy to install.
In 2012 Clek announced an Olli that even this papa bear was drooling over the Olli Cooper which is a leather booster seat. You know in modern times colors/fabric choices are how we parents define ourselves and our kids personalities.
Here’s the kicker when is comes to lugging many other booster seats in and out of cars they can be 20 lbs without blinking an eye… you can carry the clek at just 5lbs — thats lighter then most bowling balls.
How do you know if you’re child is ready to move from the convertible car seat to a booster seat – and a back-less booster seat at that… you really need to think about sleep patterns – is your child always falling asleep in the car then switching them over to a backless booster might not be the right fit.
But really – Who Should Use the Olli?
Booster seat laws vary by state. Please check your local booster seat laws.
Height Weight Recommended Age
40-57 in. (101-145 cm)
40-120 lb (18-54 kg)
4 years and up
If you’re a leather guy – like I am – you really need to check out the Limited Edition Black Leather Cooper… but if I had to go in a different direction I’m loving that tadpole green color… but the Jet and Storm also work for me.
Our friends at Clek are sooo cool they’re offering an Olli up as a giveaway prize… pretty simple pick out which olli color you’d like to own (your choice other then the cooper thats off limits because of its limited edition numbers).
How to win it… Contest ends 11:59pm EST. September 6th, 2012.
You must comment with which color Olli you’d like to own? please include some method for us to contact you in the comment (twitter or email).
Oh the things I do in the name of being a blogger… like the painful task of having a 55″ inch LG Cinema 3D TV for only 30 days as a review unit, but one lucky reader will get to win one of these AMAZING TVs!
You might comment like 1 in 100 movies and there are no TV shows in 3D but thats one great feature the LG 55LM7600 has is the ability to take 2D shows and make them 3D (some shows work better then others).
This is not just a TV but its a work of art… I can only wish to hang one of these sets from my wall instead of having it on the table top. Using the wifi connection for updates to the firmware is cool but having access to netflix, youtube, and its skype-ready.
Since this was the hunt for content – I started looking at the blurays I’ve collected and never had use for since I didnt have a 3D tv till now, but really made it a breeze was the time warner on demand channels like HBO 3D on-demand.
The tip for parents is if I owned a TV like this with the glasses, I would have to pick up a container to store the glasses in out of the reach of the kids. These glasses are pretty slick looking – which also means I fear that they’ll break too but oh well… I believe you can also use the same glasses you get at the movie theater (but thats just internet rumors).
For those that need the geek specs
Cinema 3D – Comfortable 3D Glasses (6 Pairs Included), 3D Depth Control, 3D Sound Zooming, 2D to 3D Conversion, Dual Play Gaming (requires Optionalhardware), 3D Zone
Smart TV – Premium Content Providers, Home Dashboard 2.0, Magic Remote, AppStore, 3D World (3D Content Streaming), Smart Share, WiDi, Skype Ready, Smart Phone Remote Support, Network File Browser & Wi-FiScreen Share
Picture Quality – Edge LED Plus, Micro Pixel Control, Full HD 1080p, Triple XD Engine, TruMotion 240Hz &Resolution Upscaler
you might have noticed that there has been an utter lack of posting on dadarocks.com – I really wanted to make sure I was being fair to my readers and to myself. I wanted to wait to publish a piece that was a new truth in my life. That finding yourself in parenting is one incredible thing but then finding a similar a passion in the work you do is amazing. Since I stumbled onto social media – I was kicking and dragging my feet about myspace, but joined facebook with the masses, twitter – how about a year after the early birds, pinterest ok just a month or two late to that game… but I’m there… Social media is my passion and I have found great success around many aspects of it.
What started as a hobby, as turned into passion and what has turned from my passion is the next chapter of my new job. I’ll be handling Marketing and Social Media for J&R Jr. With that said – I’m still going to be blogging about the amazing products that I find and products that are dada approved. You’ll see more posts about social media, and technology trends, and I’m going to start to condense all those other ideas into one big DaDa Rocks! So I hope soon you’ll be listening to my DAD FM podcast… I’ll be doing a series of posts on TV commercials directed at Dads or about Fatherhood in something I’m calling DADVERTISE and best of all we have some great giveaways still 🙂