We met three of the stars of the Cars animated movie today and a real-life human, who inspired one of the characters.
Towards the end of our second day on the Nissan Altimate Rogue trip along Route 66 we turned a corner into Galena, Kansas, and spotted Red the fire truck, Tow Mater and Tow Tater parked on the forecourt of a beautifully restored Kan-O-Tex service station. Flash bulbs flashed as a dozen of us exited our convoy of 2015 Nissan Altima sedans and Rogue crossover vehicles.
The excitement continued as we visited the Welcome Centre, a short distance away in Baxter Springs. The fictional Radiator Springs is where much of the movie action takes place. Dean ‘Crazy Legs’ Walker, a Kansas Route 66 advocate and one of the inspirations for the lovable tow truck character, greeted us warmly. The affable man demonstrated his now famous turning-his-feet-backwards trick and it was captured on video for viewing here when a full account of this epic journey runs later this month. This ability gave the scriptwriters the idea of having Mater teach hero race car character Lightning McQueen to drive backwards.
Earlier in the day, we left our overnight stop in Cuba, Missouri, bright and early to begin our next 550-km drive to Tulsa. Just a few minutes later, we were at the roadside in Fanning admiring the world’s largest rocking chair and a wonderful highway mural at the US 66 Outpost.
For all the tourism dollars the fascination with Route 66 brings there are still many casualties of the decommissioning of this great highway clear to see. Boarded up motels, stores and gas stations abound on the edge of the major centres.
Tuesday we press on for Amarillo, Texas.
Follow Keith on Twitter @ChangeGears
Learn more about his journey by searching #nissanroute66