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
“Cars 3” is the coming of age story of Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson), the Piston Cup winning #95. Finding himself overtaken by the next generation of racers, led by Jackson Storm (voice of Armie Hammer,) McQueen first tries to challenge the newcomers head-on, however he finds that age and technology may have passed him by. After a devastating accident and with the help of trainer Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo) McQueen learns that he has more than one role to play at the racetrack. The story teaches the value of perseverance and trust in ones self. It provides an especially strong message to girls that they should never give up, and that they can do anything they set their minds to.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The story was both engaging and entertaining, with plenty of humor for adults and children alike. I particularly liked how the relationship between Lightning and Cruz developed into that of mentor/mentee instead of a romantic one. In typical Disney*PIXAR fashion the animation and effects are top notch. You really feel as though you’re watching real racing, with pieces of rubber, smoke, and all of the associated sounds. The world of Cars is immersive, with details everywhere on the cars, in the scenery, in the buildings. In those details you’ll find plenty of references to other PIXAR stories, past and future.
The bonus disk is jam-packed with features:
Blu-ray & Digital: Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool (Exclusive new mini-movie) – Enjoy blindsided testimonials from the Crazy 8’s, touting the transformative impact Miss Fritter’s Racing School has had in reshaping the direction of their lives Theatrical Short: “Lou” – When a toy-stealing bully ruins recess for a playground full of kids, only one thing stands in his way: the “Lost and Found” box. Let’s. Get. Crazy. – Get schooled in the world of demolition derby, the “rules” of figure 8 racing, and how Pixar puts the crazy in the Thunder Hollow Crazy 8 race. This piece is hosted by Lea DeLaria. Legendary – a close, historical look at the racing legends Wendell Scott and Louise Smith, whose tenacity and perseverance got them into the race even when they weren’t invited. Ready for the Race – Disney Channel’s Olivia Rodrigo and NASCAR Racer William Byron check out the Hendrick Motorsports campus to showcase how real-world race training influenced the filmmakers. World’s Fastest Billboard – Blink and you will miss all of the graphics and “car-ified” advertisements created by Pixar’s Art team to make the ”Cars 3” world as believable as possible. Cruz Ramirez: The Yellow Car That Could – Join Cristela Alonzo and the filmmakers on their journey to create a race-car trainer turned champion racer. Generations: The Story of “Cars 3” – For the story team, creating Lightning McQueen’s next chapter didn’t involve just a tune-up, but a complete overhaul. My First Car – A collection of illustrated first-car stories as narrated by members of the “Cars 3” cast and crew. “A Green Car on the Red Carpet with Kerry Washington,” “Old Blue,” and “Still in the Family.” 5 Deleted Scenes – Each deleted scene is set up with an introduction as to why it was removed from the film. Deleted scenes include “The Boogie Woogie,” “The Jars of Dirt,” “Lugnut,” “The Bolt,” and “More Than New Paint.” Cars To Die(cast) For – Take a look at the phenomenon of die-cast toy collecting and the more than 1,000 unique designs that exist in the Cars universe. Commentary – Brian Fee (Director), Kevin Reher (Producer), Andrea Warren (Co-Producer) and Jay Ward (Creative Director)
My personal favorite Cars D’oeuvres – A collection of humorous animations featuring the main characters in “Cars 3”
This movie is well worth adding to your collection.
“Cars 3” on Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD™ & Blu-ray™ on Nov. 7
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
For Disney, the CARS franchise has been one of their most successful. You’re immersed into a world where there are no people, the vehicles are the characters. This works not only because of the technical marvel that is Pixar Animation, but because of the personalities that come to life via the voice acting. In this latest installment we’re introduced to a few new players, one of whom is a raucous, demolition derby driving school bus named Miss Fritter. Played by the award-winning actress LEA DELARIA (“Orange is the New Black,” “Californication,” “The Oblongs,” “First Wives Club,” “Dear Dumb Diary” and “Edge of Seventeen,”) Miss Fritter is instrumental in helping Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and his new race technician Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo) figure out their places in the ever-changing CARS 3 world.
When CARS 3 is released digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD on October 24 and Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray on November 7th, it will include among other extras an exclusive new mini-movie: Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool. Viewers will enjoy blindsided testimonials from the Crazy 8’s, touting the transformative impact Miss Fritter’s Racing School has had in reshaping the direction of their lives.
Disney granted us the opportunity to speak with Lea about her role, thoughts about the project, the creative process, and much more. What follows are the highlights from that conversation:
Q: Thanks for meeting with us!
LD: I’m so excited. I love you guys. You’re always so much fun.
Q: We’re kind of a fan of you too.
LD: Aw, that’s so cool. That’s so cool. Thank you.
Q: We’ve seen the movie short.
LD: It’s so good. I shouldn’t say that, it’s my own short. But, oh my god. [laughing] It’s so good though.
Q: So when did you get the call that there was going to be a mini-movie?
LD: The racing school? Um, was that in June? I think it was like June. And I was so, like, the movie hadn’t been released yet, and when they called us they said “we got this idea we want to do this DVD extra”, and we’re like, really? I mean, that was exciting, right? So yeah, and then we went in and recorded it. I mean, making any Pixar movie, I imagine, is probably very akin to what my experience has been. My experience has been awesome and fun-loving. I mean, what a great place to work. Honestly, if this acting thing doesn’t work out for me I’m going to Pixar, [laughing]. It’s just so kind and there’s so much fun, and eveybody’s having a good time, so it took us- I don’t know, I think my work was done in about two hours. Yeah, I do work fast. I mean, people generally say that to me.
Q: How much of it is script and how much is improv?
LD: It’s kind of a combination of all of that, and the entire thing is filmed like that. They hand me a script, but they have, generally ten alternate lines that they want to do, and then the writers, directors, producers they’ll go, try this, try this, try this. Hey, Lea, do you have any ideas? And then I’ll do it, and it’s often that line ends up being a combination of all of it. You know?
Q: What goes through your head when you get told, Pixar called?
LD: Oh, what went through my head? I’m buying a house! [LAUGHTER] No- oh honey, I jumped up and down, just- I can’t even tell you. We were so excited when they called. I mean, I love Pixar. I love cartoons, I’m a big fan of animation, and I’m a huge fan of Pixar’s. Always have been. I’ve seen all of their movies. So, when we got the call it was like- that’s like bucket list stuff for any actor. There’s not an actor on the planet that doesn’t want to do that, you know what I mean? So, yeah, I was excited.
Q: What did you think of Miss Fritter when they came to you with that character?
LD: Oh, well, this is the actual drawing that they came to me with (pointing to shirt). Now, they made a little t-shirt for me of the actual original drawing of Miss Fritter. And, when I saw it, I was laughing, we were all laughing. I was like, well of course they came to me for this; look at her. You know? [laughing] So, when I saw the character, and I knew she was demolition derby, and I grew up where there’s demolition derby and went to demolition derby as a kid, I kinda knew exactly who she was. So I thought, actually, honestly, I’m gonna be honest, I’m not going to make a joke. I went; perfect casting. This is, yeah, this- if this is anybody, it’s definitely me.
Q: Did you have any influence in changing the character, or shaping the character a little bit?
LD: The influence I had, it’s not really my influences, they went out of their way, I think, to personalize her for me. In a very lovely way. I mean, I was very flattered. You know, they called up and said, you know, what year are you born? That’s the license plate. Where did you go to school? Bellville, and they have the name of my school on the side of my bus. They even have a rainbow bumper sticker. You know what I mean? Oh, they’re my eyes. Those are my eyes. They paid very very close attention to my eyes and made those eyes her eyes. So that’s kind of cool too.
Q: Were you able to tell the producers and directors about making a movie more openly LGBT oriented?
LD: No, I never said a word about it. Never thought anything about that, and, you know, I love that they, out of the blue, put a rainbow bumper sticker on her, you know, I had no clue until I was told that it was there. That to me was a win-win for everyone.
Q: How psyched were you to see the ending of the movie with Cruz Ramirez stepping up?
LD: That, to me is the best part of the movie. Like, when they explained the story to me, because that’s what happens. You don’t really see a script. You see some drawings, you go to Pixar, you get this tour of Pixar, which is crazy. It’s so much fun. But, you go into a room, you see the drawings of, this is what, you know, kind of what it’s going to be,and those are just the beginning drawings, like this, just the beginning drawings. And, in my case it was the director; it was Brian Fee who explained the story to me from beginning to end. He said: It’s gonna be this, and starting out, we’re trying to return to what it was like in Cars One, you know, there’s always that pitch, and then, the story. As he spoke more and more, I thought, this is a feminist movie! This is a girl power movie. This is a movie that’s teaching young girls that they can live their dreams and be whatever they want to be, and we don’t have that many movies that say that to little girls, in fact I can’t think of another one. If somebody else can, shout it out. I was jumping up and down about it. I thought it was amazing.
Q: Favorite line in the movie?
LD: I’m gonna fritterize ya!. [laughing] That’s a great line. I tweeted about that last night, actually.
Q: Do you have any pet projects that you would like to get done?
LD: Well, right now, the pet project that I’m working on is the off Broadway show that I mentioned, called Innocence. Then, I have about, I would say, ten ideas for different television shows that, you know, I will be taking around, and I’ve got a new record I’ve got to make, ‘cause it’s been two years since my last one was released. So, that’s gotta happen. So I got a lot of stuff, I got a lot on my plate. Buddy don’t remind me. I got too much to do.
CARS 3 in HD and 4K Ultra HD on October 24 Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray on November 7th
Insideout is a movie for the whole family. “This one has all the feels” as Marc walked out of the theater saying. Literally each character is a feeling and emotionally they do their job making you feel happy, sad, fear and anger throughout the movie. Also fun is the initial sighting of the secret character who is originally a silly drawing on the wall that almost goes unnoticed until half way through when he comes to life as Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong. Best of all the ah-ha moment where the golden lesson is taught to kids. This film teaches that life has some hard times and sadness is ok. Better still that sadness helps you find your happiness. Definitely take your little ones to see it and the 3D is worth it with the great colors and characters really popping out at you!