Cars 2 was an enormous box-office hit, but as Mater skipped around the globe as an oblivious player in the world of espionage, fans of the original film may have felt a little homesick for Radiator Springs. Fortunately, Lightning McQueen’s adopted hometown gets another close-up in The Radiator Springs 500 ½.
The entire cast of voices from the films, including Owen Wilson, is back for this six-minute short, which will premiere later this spring exclusively on Disney Movies Anywhere. The gang is enjoying a Founders Day celebration to honor the late Stanley when a gang of Baja racers descend on the town and challenge Lightning to a race.
“We kind of played it up like a western,” says Rob Gibbs, the Mater’s Tall Tales vet who directed the short along with Scott Morse. “These off-road racers come to town, like gunslingers looking for the hottest gunslinger in Radiator Springs, Lightning McQueen. They challenge him to a race, like someone would challenge someone to a duel.”
As you can see from the photo, Lightning isn’t one to walk (drive?) away from a challenge. While he and the Baja pros see who’s the fastest, Mater leads the rest of the gang through a leisurely Founders Day tour of Stanley’s original frontier route. “It’s kind of a contrast between how much fun the tour is and how scary and painful the racers’ journey is, because they take a right where Mater told them to take a left,” says Gibbs.
Gibbs, Morse, and the Pixar team had a lot of fun with the new characters, who were inspired by the racers who compete in Mexico’s famous Baja 1000 race. “They have all these different classes for that race, so we tried to pick the most interesting cars,” says Gibbs. “So there’s four of them: a Baja Bug, a Class-1 dune buggy, a Meyers Manx dune buggy, and a trophy truck, the big money ones, you know, with huge suspension and huge wheels.”
The Radiator Spring 500 ½ might not become an annual racing event, but the short itself is the first of Pixar’s “Tales from Radiator Springs” series. A second short is already in the works for 2015.