"Road to the Races" Event Preps Fans for "Cars 3" Release in June

A sneak peek of the latest movie in the "Cars" franchise and more.
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Renee Roberson
"Road to the Races" provided a sneak peek of "Cars 3" at Charlotte Motor Speedway, along with interactive activities and photo opportunities.

In my family, we are huge fans of all the DisneyPixar films—we can view them over and over again. I can still remember watching “Cars” when it was released on DVD, after hearing all the buzz about it and knowing many of the characters were based on people in the NASCAR industry that we knew and loved. I’m not going to lie—I cried during the scene when Doc Hudson first showed Lightning McQueen how to “turn on dirt” and in the final race scene.

A few short years later, my young son watched the movie for the very first time. I watched his eyes light up the when Lighting McQueen first came on the screen. It soon became the movie that was on constant rotation at our house for both of my kids. He carried a die-cast Lightning McQueen with him everywhere we went. When he lost one, we would buy him another. He still has his collection of the cars, and I can’t bring myself to throw out his tiny Lightning McQueen pajamas. We eagerly went to the theater to watch the sequel, “Cars 2,” and felt like a family member had died when we heard of Doc Hudson’s passing. When I found out about the “Road to the Races” preview event being held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway this past weekend, I knew we had to check it out, especially because the event was one of only two stops in North Carolina.

"Road to the Races" was held on the green in front of the speedway, and the sound of the cars warming up with laps around the track for the North Carolina Education Lottery race provided the perfect backdrop. Fans stood in line for entrance to the free event, which included a variety of activity stations. Kids worked on a giant coloring mural featuring characters from the film, Coppertone sponsored a tire-changing simulator, families could spin the wheel and win free products from Oral-B and create digital postcards, Mattel created an interactive play area with matchbox cars, and the smoothie samples at the booth sponsored by Dole were a welcome treat from the heat.

Movie Preview

While at the event, we got a sneak peek of the film in the fully-equipped mobile Cinetransformer Movie Theater. The producers of the film gave some behind-the-scene insights into the making of the latest installment, and from the whispers I heard around me I can tell fans are excited about the latest racing superstar and rival to LightingMcQueen, Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer).

When McQueen is injured in a catastrophic wreck on the racetrack, he has to figure out whether or not he has the chops to return to the sport. Enter Cruze Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), a young race technician determined to help him recover.

We viewed a scene featuring Lighting McQueen visiting an old, country dirt track for some practice at a nighttime race, where he gets a little more than he bargained for (think WWF wrestling in the dark—with a few pyrotechnics thrown in for good measure). When he comes face-to-face with a dented-up school bus with nothing to lose, he tries to back out of the race, to no avail. The scene had us on the edge of our seats, ending of course with what my son called “a cliffhanger.”

“Cars 3” opens on June 16 and I’m sure I’ll be prompted to purchase our tickets early.

Photo by Renee Roberson

Hanging out at "Road to the Races" at Charlotte Motor Speedway.