Ray Evernham is an an American consultant for Hendrick Companies, but got his start working the pit crew for Bill Davis Racing. He is most known for being the racing chief for Nascar driver Jeff Gordon. He made his voice acting debut in Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3. Jay Ward was a characters manager and one of the art coordinators and additional voices in Cars and Cars 3. He began his Pixar career back in late 1998 and is considered the "guardian" of the Cars franchise due to his in-depth knowledge and love of cars. Cars 3 was released on Digital HD on October 24, 2017, and will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray on November 7, 2017.
Screen Rant got a chance to talk with Jay Ward and Ray Evernham on press day, where we discussed working on a racing pit crew, when Cruz Ramirez is coming to California Adventure, and how much the racing world influenced the story of Cars 3.
I love this movie. It’s back to the basics in the Cars Universe. Ray, I have a question for you. You’ve done pit crews, correct? What’s more pressure - pit crews or voice acting in a Disney/Pixar film?
Ray Evernham: Oh boy. Well, for me, it was voice acting and worrying about whether or not I’d be on the cutting room floor if I didn’t do it right for Brian. It’s pressure because you want to do a good job in any situation, but it was an incredible opportunity to do something that I had never done before.
One thing I walked away with was how much I loved Cruz Ramirez and I know you’ve worked a lot on Cars Land in California Adventure. When is Cruz coming to California Adventure because now Lightning McQueen is going to be at Nascar?
Jay Ward: She’s actually there now.
Jay Ward: Yes. If you go right now, there’s a life sized Cruz Ramirez that greets you at the park and the week she came, we actually made a billboard for her. You know the Cars Land billboard? There’s one that says, “Welcome, Cruz Ramirez”. They welcomed her to town on the billboard. Now we have a Halloween overlay called “Hall-o-ween” like Hall and Cruz has a pirate costume on. McQueen has a superhero costume on. They are all dressed up. It’s pretty cool. It’s only for Halloween.
So now I have to check it out.
Jay Ward: You got to go check it out.
One of the things about this movie, which I absolutely love and that you don’t really think about, is this passing of the torch relationship that Cruz has with Lightning and coming to an end of a career. How was that implemented from the real racing world?
Jay Ward: Well, he can talk to it a little bit. I’ll tell you that we looked at Jeff Gordon a lot, who Ray was crew chief for, and Jeff was a guy who had this long career and found himself, we sat down and talked to Jeff one day and he said, “You know what happens? A young guy shows up and he might get ahead of you a little bit and then he wrecks. He hits the wall or he spins out or he just gets too ambitious. But one day he passes you and actually holds it together and he wins and he does it again and you try harder and harder and you see that gap get bigger and bigger and at some point you have to realize what am I going to do? I’m not going to catch this guy.
One thing that we did yesterday, which I have a whole new respect for now, is actual pit crew stuff. It’s an endurance test. It’s quick. You have to be laser focused. It’s team work. It’s amazing. I noticed in this film that there’s a lot of technology that they used for Jackson with the new car technology. Can you talk to me about how that was translated in making this movie?
Ray Evernham: The legends, when they go and talk about the legends, they were pretty stock automobiles and the guys were just learning and when Lightning McQueen came on, using the Jeff Gordon analogy, we were just starting to use some of that stuff. You know, the CNC machines and the computer simulation and all that stuff just wasn’t available and, as Jeff’s career went on and he dominated, tools were being developed to test and build things in the shop without having to go to the racetrack and now, by the end of Jeff Gordon’s career, these young guys were coming on. There is this new generation car that was actually being built in animation on computer screens doing finite element analysis and suspension changes and all of that, so it was perfected before it ever got onto the racetrack and now you didn’t have to rely on the driver to perfect it. So you could take these young kids who’ve driven racing simulators, plug them right in, and all of a sudden they are fast. So the movie has accurately portrayed what has happened in Nascar over the past 30 or 40 years.
Last question is what is your favorite feature on the home release and the Blu-ray HD?
Jay Ward: Well, one thing that I really like about the Blu-ray is the opportunity to see all the behind-the-scenes stuff, the making of [stuff]. For me I really love any time there is interviews with the story team about cracking the story. That stuff is always interesting to me because our story is so unique at Pixar. This one also has a fun short called Miss Fritter’s Racing School. It’s kind of fun, so there’s a lot of cool stuff on it. I just, personally, it’s neat for me for people to see what really happens behind-the-scenes at Pixar. As you know, it’s a unique environment and seeing some of that, you can only get that on Blu-ray and DVD.
Cars 3 is now available on Blu-ray and digital HD.