Welcome to Radiator Springs. I mean, Kansas. Galena, Kansas. A town on Route 66 that partially inspired the Pixar movie Cars and where you can meet Tow Mater himself at Cars on the Route.
Cars is a Pixar movie set in a world where anthropomorphic talking cars populate the world. A racer, Lightning McQueen, gets lost and finds himself in Radiator Springs, a location that was once a bustling stop on Route 66 that had since fallen from maps due to highway expansion. Many of the characters and locations featured in the film were based on Route 66 attractions.
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The Cozy Cone was based on Wigwam Motel, Ramone’s was the U-Drop Inn, and Lizzie’s, Hackberry General Store. One of the most iconic characters in the film was Tow Mater, a beat up tow truck who befriends and supports Lightning McQueen and teaches him a couple of tricks along the way.
This character was based on an unlikely Route 66 attraction: an old 951 Harvester International Tow Truck that stands outside of a former Kan-O-Tex gas station in Galena, Kansas inspired Tow Mater.
Kansas is the state holding the shortest stretch of Route 66, with only eleven of the 2,448 miles of the iconic Mother Road. You can visit this Kansas Route 66 attraction at the north end of Main Street in Galena, Kansas. The business first opened in 1934. In 2007, a group of four women – Betty Courtney, Melba Rigg, Renee Charles and Judy Courtney – purchased the property and restored it, reopening as “Four Women on the Route.”
Now, the old service station is known as Cars on the Route and has been converted into a cafe where you can find sandwiches, snacks, and Route 66 and Cars souvenirs. You can visit for a quick bite and to meet the rusty old tow truck who inspired the Disney character. The owners have even added cartoon eyes for those who can’t quite make the connection. And they’ve added a few more cars to complete the collection.
Be sure to visit Cars on the Route in lightning speed because this Kansas roadside attraction will surely have you saying “Ka-Chow!”
Cars on the Route
Address: Kan-O-Tex Service Station, 119 N Main St, Galena, KS
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 10am-3pm
Cost: Free to See