The upcoming sequel to John Lasseter's Cars will take a bit of a winding road, but we've marked out the follow-up's exotic international locations, which you can visit after the jump.
Lasseter—whose duties as chief creative officer for Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Animation Studios keep him too busy—isn't even directing Cars 2, leaving that instead to Ratatouille producer Brad Lewis. Lasseter is working closely with him.
The story takes Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) on the International Race of Champions, with Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) as his crew chief and the other cars from Radiator Springs on his crew.
We've constructed a road map to the Race of Champions from Lasseter's presentation at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., last weekend. Lasseter showed concept art for the different European locations in the world of cars. Cars 2 is due out in summer 2011.
1). Fuji, Japan. The race begins with Lightning McQueen and all his competitors lined up for the race. The friendship with Lightning and Mater will be tested over the course of their journey, and Mater will have a Hitchcockian spy adventure of his own. "It's so different from the original, but has all of the heart," Lasseter said.
2. Downtown Tokyo The race commences, and the cars drive through a neon cityscape in what promises to be a CGI rendering of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The hand-drawn concept suggests glowing structures packed together in the city. Only here the cars don't have any pesky humans getting in the way.
3. Black Forest, Germany. No details yet on how cars traverse the ocean between Japan and Europe, but the race continues through a lush forest region of Germany's mountainside. This offers a natural setting to contrast some of the more mechanically influenced lands coming up.
4. Oktoberfest, Germany. Well, you can't take Cars to Germany without doing the stereotypical Oktoberfest celebration. Mater even gets into costume with green "lederhosen" detailing on his grill. "He's wearing Materhosen," Lasseter said.
5. Porto Corsa, Italy. I suppose they couldn't take cars to Venice and get around all those canals, but Porto Corsa seems a happy medium. This fictional Italian city lets you see the seaside, both in bright sunny day and romantically moonlit night, with roadways for the heroes to drive. By this time, Mater has saved the life of secret agent Finn McMissile, a silver Aston Martin-esque vehicle. He thinks Mater must be the best secret agent ever. "What a cover," Lasseter said. "No one can [really] be that stupid."
6. Paris, France. The City of Lights offers two challenges for the Race of Champions. The Champs Elysees offers a scenic drag strip for speed, and the Eiffel Tower's arch has been modified to resemble a hubcap.
7. London, England. The race ends at Buckingham Palace, passing Big Bentley (get it?) on the way. While Lightning crosses the finish line, Mater tries to taunt the Queen's Guard, a red car in a fluffy black hat. This, Lasseter said, was the inspiration for the whole film. Traveling the world on the original Cars press junket, he thought about the new possibilities. "What would Mater do in London trying to drive on the other side?" Lasseter asked. "What would Mater do in a roundabout?"