Inspiration for "Cars" along Route 66
Route 66 is sometimes known as the Mother Road. Before the Interstate system zipped drivers around the country, Route 66 was a direct link through the heartland of America from Chicago to Los Angeles. Much of the original road had been decommissioned or bypassed by expressways like I-40. But there are places where time passes more slowly and Route 66 looks like it did in its heyday in the 1950’s.
One such town is Seligman, Arizona. Located about half way between Flagstaff and Kingman, this little city claims to be the inspiration for Radiator Springs, the fictional town of the Pixar film “Cars”. In fact, while doing research for the film, “Cars” director John Lassiter visited the town and spoke with town leaders.
The main street of Seligman does bear a resemblance to the fictional Radiator Springs. But the real proof sits behind Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In. Among the hundreds of “historical” items are the real life metal versions of the animated cars from the movie; complete with eyes on the windshields. However, the Snow Cap is much more than a kitsch museum, it is a bona-fide Route 66 diner, built in 1953 by Juan Delgadillo. The food, burgers and fries mostly, is good, but the attitude is what you’ll remember. The staff is fond of joking with the patrons. They tell some of the world’s oldest jokes and use very well-worn sight gags, but inside the Snow Cap it works.
Down the main street are other examples of Route 66 roadside architecture. Old stores, motels, even a barber shop, have been converted into tourist attractions that sell Route 66 paraphernalia. This dusty little town, like its cinematic cousin, may be off the beaten track, but that alone makes it worth a visit.