Rev up your engines, Cars fans! Pixar’s beloved franchise is back in a big way, with a brand-new series called Cars on the Road, now streaming on Disney+. Cars on the Road reunites the audience with fan favorites Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and Mater (Larry the Cable Guy). It all begins when Mater is invited to his sister’s wedding prompting an epic cross country road trip, which his best friend Lightning McQueen is more than happy to ride along for! From a trip to a haunted hotel, a jaunt through the circus, and a musical truck-themed adventure, Mater and McQueen’s hijinks are sure to delight Cars devotees and new fans alike.
We were able to hear all about the series from directors Steve Purcell, Brian Fee, and Bobby Podesta as well as producer Marc Sondheimer and Mater himself, Larry the Cable Guy! Here are some fun facts about the making of the show we learned.
1. The series was inspired by a real-life road trip!
One of the Cars on the Road directors, Steve Purcell, shared a story of a road trip he and his family took across the country with his family when he was 8 years old and thought it would be the perfect way to position the adventures of Mater and Lightning McQueen. “In creating this series and writing these stories, it felt like a great opportunity to create something that was sort of modular in that every stop along the way could be a totally new location, a totally new sensibility, and a totally new set of characters,” he shared.
2. All the directors have a history with the Cars franchise.
Watching Cars on the Road makes it clear that there was so much love and expertise put into the series, and it makes sense that it was created by Cars franchise alums! Steve Purcell and Brian Fee were both story artists on Cars, then Fee later went on to direct Cars 3! And of course, Bobby Podesta brought his animation expertise from his time as directing animator on Cars and supervising animator on Cars 3.
Brian effused, “We all three go back to the first Cars. So, it’s in our DNA. It’s in our blood… We’re all just so heavily rooted into these characters. It’s like these characters are part of our family and we all understand them on that level… And we do have slightly different thumbprints and slightly different ways in. And I think we all, even though each director takes the helm and puts their thumbprints all over it, we kind of rely on each other to help fill in the gaps and make it better.”
3. Be on the lookout for Easter Eggs!
Every great Pixar project has a few hidden Easter Eggs, and Cars on the Road is no exception! Producer Marc Sondheimer reveals that the Pizza Planet truck can be spotted throughout the entire series in every episode! But there are a few details to keep an eye or ear out for as well! Bobby Podesta teases, “One thing for our audience to pay attention to [is] the credits and the music. Our composer Jake Monaco took our theme song and he crafted a different version of it for every single episode in the credits in the style of the show. And it’s a pretty amazing bit of music that’s in there. So there’s something for you from the start all the way to the end.” Sondheimer adds, “ Plus you get to see the credits and see all the wonderful people who worked on it!”
4. Every director had something that excited them to see come to life in the final animation!
Obviously, one of the best moments of creating a show is getting to see the finished product you worked so hard to achieve! Bobby Podesta didn’t hesitate to let us know that his musical episode “Trucks” was a great moment right away, “[The episode] was so over the top and so much fun, and so unlike anything I had gotten to work on in the world of Cars that we just kept pushing it and pushing it. And then we thought we were done, and then we pushed it some more.”
Steve Purcell also loved getting to play with the animation medium and push it a bit further. In his episode “Dino Park,” a dream sequence of Mater’s led to a fun visual that excited Purcell. He elaborates, “For me, it was seeing the stop motion section where we tried to replicate the '60s style stop motion of the dinosaur cars. And seeing that realized and how the animators were able to nail that. Because for me, I was giving them this weird target which was, I wanted it to look a little kind of dodgy, but I wanted it to be cool at the same time. And they were able to get this beautiful action scene. But you feel the handmade quality of it as it would've looked in the '60s when I was watching those cool Ray Harryhausen movies or King Kong or whatever. So that was exciting for me.”
Finally, director Brian Fee dug back into his childhood for a feeling he was elated to see the animators bring to life. He recounts, “[F]or one of the episodes I worked on called “The Legend,” McQueen and Mater get to go out in the woods and have an interaction with Bigfoot. And there's a moment in there where McQueen is just kind of out in the woods by himself, it's dark… and it's moody and we were trying to capture, you know, that feeling of like an '80s science fiction feeling of being out in the woods. And that was something I think I've never got to do before. So I think for me, being able to tap into things I loved watching and inspired me as a child, and trying to get it in there. And the animators, and with the lighting, it's just amazing. The Cars crew was just amazing and everybody took it well beyond what I ever would've thought. So it was such a joy to see it come together.
5. If you’re not already familiar with the Cars franchise, anyone can join this road trip!
Take it from Larry the Cable Guy… aka Mater himself, “Absolutely, you can drop right in. I mean, McQueen and Mater, they're a legendary comedy team. So yeah, you can start from the beginning if you've never seen it, but then once you're hooked, which you will be, then absolutely you're gonna want to start from the beginning [of the franchise] and see how it all progressed and how they came to be.” Just fire up your Disney+ and enjoy the ride!
Disney and Pixar’s Cars on the Road is now streaming, only on Disney+! For more Pixar updates, follow @Pixar on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. For more Disney+ news and updates, follow @DisneyPlus on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.