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Junior Petty ride-a-long to get Pixar Cars style makeover

Update: I’ve been sent two car designs for the Piston Cup as created by Pixar Animation Studios. I think they’re pretty neat:



See the real things starting June 13th.

If you’ve parked at the TTC, you’ve probably heard the roar of race cars as they zoom around Walt Disney World Speedway. Sometimes they are actual professional drivers doing some testing or training, but usually that means the Richard Petty Driving Experience is hosting the most thrilling outside-the-berm experience you can enjoy while at the world.

For those who don’t want to drive, they have ride-a-long experiences and not too long ago, the RPDE added Junior Ride-A-Long’s for kids aged 6 to 13 (and 48 inches tall). While I did the driving myself, my son had the opportunity for a ride-a-long with one of the Petty drivers.  He assures me it was an amazing experience. He actually got to go faster than I did, since there was a pro behind the wheel.

As it works now, you ride in a car that had a former life in a NASCAR series and as such they’re stickered up like a real stock car would be. But for the Junior Ride-A-Long’s kids will soon be able to choose between two characters from Pixar’s animated feature film “Cars” – Aiken Axler and Sage VanDerSpin. You may recall that Richard Petty provided the voice of “The King” in the original “Cars” movie.


The two full-size custom character cars, created by “Cars” creative director Jay Ward, will enter the line-up for the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway near Orlando, Fla. beginning Saturday, June 14.  The #28 Aiken Axler and #80 Sage VanDerSpin cars will be used in the new Piston Cup Junior Ride-Along program.

For just $59, the Junior Ride-Along program gives children ages 6 to 13 (and at least 48 inches tall) the chance to experience real-life racing excitement as they ride shotgun with a professional driving instructor for three thrilling laps in a specially equipped Piston Cup race car.

“We’re thrilled to have Sage and Aiken join the Richard Petty Driving Experience team and know they’ll provide a truly magical element to our popular Junior Ride-Along program,” said Chris Kirby, Petty Holdings director of marketing. “Jay did an amazing job bringing these two characters to life in the form of two full-sized, high-performance, 600HP race cars.”

According to their official biographies, #80 VanDerSpin races for Team “Gask-its” and is the youngest winner of the Junior Piston Cup Pro Series. Axler is the #28 Nitroade racer who captured the Vitoline Rookie of the Year honors in his first full season of Cup competition. Both will be sporting their team colors and sponsors, along with their larger-than-life personalities, thanks to a specialty window wrap.

“The window wrap makes it possible to see the character eyes from the exterior, which really brings them to life, but doesn’t interfere with the view of the track,” added Kirby.  “Once passengers are inside the car, the track can be clearly seen so they can fully enjoy the experience of racing around the track.” 

Ward has also been named guardian of the ”Cars” franchise due to his in-depth knowledge and love of cars. Ward’s position allows him to have a hand in developing consumer products, interactive games, theme parks, marketing and ancillary projects involving “Cars,” – which led to his role in developing the VanDerSpin and Axler Piston Cars. Since joining Pixar in 1998, Ward has worked in the art department on a number of other Pixar movies including “Ratatouille,” “Monster’s Inc.” and “Brave.”

Both cars feature custom racing seats designed by The Joie of Seating – a premier fabricator of custom-fitted aluminum racing seats, owned and operated by two-time NASCAR Nationwide series champion Randy LaJoie.   Specifically designed to ensure the safety and security of smaller bodies, these full containment racing seats feature built-in shoulder and head protection and a five-point safety harness with the same design used by NASCAR drivers.

Junior Ride-Alongs do not require reservations and are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Find out more information about program offerings, dates and times by visiting or call 800-237-3889.