While Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3 won’t be in theaters until June 16, 2017, Lightning McQueen and friends have announced that they will be teaming up with NASCAR, making appearances everywhere that they go. Brian Fee (director of Cars 3), Cristela Alonzo (actress and voice of Cruz Ramirez in the upcoming film), and Zane Stoddard (NASCAR’s vice president of entertainment marketing & content development) made the announcement today at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. The two companies have worked together before but this new collaboration will be the biggest between the movie franchise and NASCAR. “We’re looking forward to a fun and exciting season-long program with a host of activities,” says Lylle Breier, senior vice president, worldwide marketing partnerships and special events for the Walt Disney Studios.
This Sunday marks the 59th “Great American Race” for the Daytona 500 where Owen Wilson, the voice of Cars 3‘s red car, Lightning McQueen, will be serving as grand marshal. Multi-Platinum trio Lady Antebellum will perform the pre-race show. The 2017 Daytona 500 is a a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race with over 200 laps on the 2.5-mile (4.0 km) asphalt “superspeedway.”
The Daytona 500 will air on FOX Sports Sunday, February 26, with NASCAR Raceday at 11:00 a.m. (ET), FOX NASCAR Sunday at 1:00 p.m. (ET), the Daytona 500 at 2:00 p.m. (ET), and NASCAR Victory Lane at 9:00 p.m. (ET).
“Cars 3 very much pays homage to stock car racing and its rich history,” said Fee. “Our story leans into the drama, emotion and excitement NASCAR fans find at every race.”
“We’re excited to take part in delivering the Cars 3 experience to our current and next generation of fans, at-track, in school, online and across the country,” added Stoddard. “In addition to all the engaging NASCAR Cars 3 elements industry-wide, we think our fans will really enjoy the roles of several young drivers in the film.”
Events featured in the new collaboration include new digital and social cross promotional activities and sweepstakes. Life-sized versions of Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez, and McQueen’s rival Jackson Storm will be making at-track appearances; co-branded merchandise will be selling everywhere; and the NASCAR Acceleration Nation, the sport’s youth program, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be featured through the Cars 3 nationwide tour.
Various NASCAR drivers have leant their voices to the Disney/Pixar film including Chase Elliott (Chase Racelott), Ryan Blaney (Ryan “Inside” Laney), Daniel Suarez (Danny Swervez), Bubba Wallace (Bubba Wheelhouse), Darrell Walgrip (Darrell Cartrip), Jeff Gordon (Jeff Gorvette), Richard “The King” Petty (Strip “The King” Weathers), Kyle Petty (Cal Weathers), and Ray Evernham (Ray Reverham). NASCAR announcers and promoters will be getting into the act as well as Mike Joy becomes Mike Joyride, Shannon Spake becomes Shannon Spokes, and Howard Augustine “Humpy” Wheeler Jr. becomes Tex Dinoco.
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Cars 3 tells the story of legendary Lightning McQueen, who is suddenly thrown out of the sport that he loves to play in but gets back on the track with the help of a young race technician named Cruz Ramirez and inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few other unexpected turns in the road. In short, McQueen’s #95 isn’t done with racing just yet.
[Featured Image by Getty Images for Disney]