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The Pixar Movie Cars

Our Connection To The Animated Movie "Cars" by Pixar

In 2001, the Pixar team headed by John Lasseter, decided they were going to do a film about Route 66. Lasseter wanted his team to not only learn about Route 66 but to experience it as well. He asked Michael Wallis, author of “Route 66: The Mother Road,” to guide them on a journey of the historical and the present-day Route 66. Led by Wallis, the team embarked on a Route 66 road trip to diligently research their upcoming project which would become the beloved movie “Cars”.

One of the things that inspired them the most was the story of the little towns that were by-passed by the Interstate system. This inevitably led them to interview the man who was so upset by being by-passed that he did something about it: Angel Delgadillo of Seligman, Arizona. They interviewed Angel for hours. The Pixar crew heard the saga of Seligman’s by-pass by I-40 when the 9,000 cars traveling through town each day on Route 66 disappeared. They learned of the long years Seligman spent with little traffic and little income coming through town. They discovered that the triumphant return of Route 66 was due to this small town barber’s efforts to rally local business owners to help him revitalize the economy of his hometown. They learned how Seligman celebrated their success in the revival of Route 66 by having a big party where everyone put on their neon and cruised through town.

Five years later, in 2006, when the movie “Cars” was released in theaters, Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote,

“Another beloved figure the movie salutes is Angel Delgadillo, a soft-spoken barber in Seligman, Ariz. One of his memories is the inspiration for the movie's most poignant scene. When Interstate 40 was completed in northern Arizona in the early 1980s, the people of Seligman thought it would be an even bigger boon for the town than Route 66, which had functioned as their Main Street since the 1920s. But the day the interstate opened, as the shopkeepers waited behind their decorated storefronts, it was like a curtain dropped. Businesses quickly closed, and the population dwindled.”

Although the look of the town of Radiator Springs is a composite of Route 66 landmarks from across the country, Angel’s account of Seligman and its relationship with Route 66 helped create the narrative of the animated town. Angel’s story of Seligman essentially became the story of Radiator Springs.

You can see some of Angel’s interview with John Lasseter on the “Inspirations” special feature below.  It is also on the “Cars” DVD under special features, and you can find it on our YouTube channel along with many other Angel interviews and entertaining videos about Route 66.

 One of the must-sees at our gift shop is the picture that John Lasseter drew for Angel and his daughter, Mirna. Since the Pixar team was only in the research stage of the film "Cars" the characters from the movie did not exist yet, so Mr. Lasseter drew Buz and Woody from the very popular "Toy Story" movies. Angel says he drew the perfect cartoon picture in about 10 seconds and then to make it truly special, he added "66" on Woody's sheriff badge. So if you are a big "Cars" fan, make sure you come by our store and take a picture of it!