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More 'Cars' coming from Pixar

Fri, 23 May 2014

Pixar is developing a third feature installment of its "Cars" franchise, according to Disney chairman and CEO Robert A. Iger. Not much is known about "Cars 3," but speculation says it won't be in theaters for another two years or more.

However, as any parent of member of the critical two-to-five-year-old demographic knows, the "Cars" franchise never stopped producing hits. A series of shorts based on characters from the "Cars" movies called "Mater's Tall Tales" have kept audiences on the edge of their jumpin' jammies for years. They're fun for adults, too, since Pixar spends as much time getting the details of the shorts perfect as it does the feature-length films. So far, Pixar has made 11 such shorts, most of which focus on Tow Mater, everything from "Time Travel Mater," where our toothed tow-truck hero goes back in time to save Radiator Springs, to "Air Mater" where he learns to fly.

A new installment in the "Cars" shorts series will debut May 25, dubbed "The Radiator Springs 500 1/2." This one mostly features Lightning McQueen, and it's all about desert racing. While the residents of Radiator Springs are celebrating their town's founding, with McQueen dressed up as town founder Stanley, a rabble of desert racers rolls into town and challenges McQueen to a race – an off-road race.

“It's the old western theme of the gunslinger coming into town to challenge the fastest car in the West,” said Pixar's Rob Gibbs, who directed this and many other "Cars" shorts. “We had come up with different scenarios: a swamp buggy race, F1 and even ice racing. We went with the Baja 1000 theme because it's a long journey.”

As in the two "Cars" movies, the detail on this one is good. The main antagonist is the original Meyers Manx, called "Old Red" in real life. The detail on that car goes all the way to the green oxygen-tank fuel cells that Bruce Meyers bolted to the outside of the car to get all the way through Baja almost 50 years ago. Even the flimsy convertible top looks like the real thing. The interloper gang also includes a Class 1 racer, a Trophy Truck and a Baja Bug, all authentic-looking.

McQueen accepts the challenge and disappears into Luigi's Casa Della Tires to emerge transformed into an off-road racer. After a mix-up about the course directions from Mater, they're off.

We won't spoil the ending.

"The Radiator Springs 500 1/2"will be available May 25 at and on Aug. 1 on The Disney Channel. You can also get all of "Mater's Tall Tales" at that site.

By Mark Vaughn