When I found out in March that there was a chance I was possibly going to be able to cover the junket for Cars, I was extremely excited. Then I found out it was going to be held in North Carolina, and that excitement went up about 100%.
Well, Disney spared no expense; they flew everyone down to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina! The whole cast and crew of the film came down to speak to the press in suites inside one of the largest tracks in the world, as well.
Now fast forward about 2 months to the middle of May, about a week before I was going to fly down from California. I got an email telling me I was going to have exclusive one on one interviews with 4 members of the cast - Cheech Marin (Ramone, the low rider), John Ratzenberger (Mack the truck), Larry the Cable Guy (Mater the tow truck), and Richard Petty (race car, The King). Then, while I was at the course, I added the two supervising animators for the film, Scott Clark and Doug Sweetland to that list.
When I arrived at the track, I was blown away at the size of the Speedway and the amount of seats there. When we got off the shuttle, we were dropped off right by the life-size models of the characters from Cars, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), Sally the Porche (Bonnie Hunt), Mater the tow truck, and Doc Hudson (Paul Newman). Of course, I couldn't resist getting a picture with each of the cars.
As I got closer to the time to interview the cast and crew, I waited in different suites with a view of the infield and track at the Speedway. Once again, I had to get a snapshot of what I was taking in.
After my interviews, we were driven onto the track and into the infield to a building where we spoke to Paul Newman for a press conference. The 81-year-old and huge racing fan talked about working on this movie. "I helped a little bit on some of the racing techniques. I knew this would be good because (John) Lassiter was working on it and Pixar."
It was a real treat to be in the presence of such a legend of Hollywood, but even he had to joke about being in the same movie with Larry the Cable Guy saying, "I'm watching him very closely."
Paul Newman has really enjoyed all the Pixar films but talking about Cars, "I think the challenge with this one is with the crowd scenes; if you look at the depths of some of those scenes. How would you like to have to sit down and be responsible for the grandstand with 2000 cars there and make them all different; it's extraordinary."
But one piece of advice he gave us was a wonderful little motto that someone once told him, and that is, "It is useless to put on the brakes when you're upside down."
Throughout next week, you'll get to read my interviews with the cast and crew only on Movieweb.com. To get you ready, here's how they'll run:
Read the interviews now!
And don't forget, Cars opens in theaters June 9th; it's rated G. The film is so amazing, the animation is spectacular, and the story is heartwarming. And as Larry the Cable Guy says, "Get R Done!"