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56. Seligman and the film ‘Cars.’

56. Seligman and the film ‘Cars.’

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56. Seligman and the film ‘Cars.’

June 8, 2006 A scene from the animated feature movie Cars from Pixar Studios and Disney. [PNG Merlin Archive]

 In 2006, the animated film studio Pixar released a movie called “Cars,” set in a world of anthropomorphic automobiles where a famous racing car named Lightning McQueen is sidetracked into a sleepy town. The town, called Radiator Springs, is a variation of many that were cut off by major highways bypassing Route 66. As McQueen is forced to stay in the town to fix damage he caused, themes about the town and its people carry echoes of what happened along Route 66 as times changed.

The director of the movie, John Lasseter, joined 11 animators on two separate road trips along Route 66 in search of its vibe and spirit. They spent time in numerous towns and met numerous people. It’s not unusual to see memorabilia with Lasseter’s signature in a number of Route 66 establishments he and his team worked with.

Specific Arizona references crop up in the film, including a sign referencing the Jack Rabbit gift shop and a motor lodge with giant traffic cones that looks like the Wigwam lodge in Holbrook.

Local Route 66 historian Sean Evans noted in a 2010 interview that the backdrop of Radiator Springs and the overall vibe presented in that town carries a strong similarity to Seligman. And the story of Seligman and the way it has held onto the Route 66 spirit likely influenced the filmmakers.


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