As a kid, I grew up around racing. My dad was a track announcer, traveling on occasion with World of Outlaw/UARA Midgets - an era in which I got to see a lot of the short tracks across the Midwest. For awhile, he was also a regular announcer at the famed Santa Fe Speedway near Chicago, so I had plenty of chances to get up close to some high-octane fun. As an adult, I've seen my girls become enthusiastic about racing, and it all goes back to when our oldest daughter first saw Disney•Pixar's Cars. That was the start of the fascination here, and that makes it even more special that I've had the opportunity to work with Disney in promotion of Cars 3 - in theaters on June 16, 2017. During the early press days for the film, I found myself on the track at Sonoma Raceway - the road course formerly known as Sears Point - for a ride-along, along with some time spent doing a "Pit Stop Challenge" and witnessing a presentation on the history of NASCAR racing, presented by Cars franchise Creative Director Jay Ward and former Hendrick Motorsports Crew Chief, Ray Evernham. If you love racing, Cars 3 is going to mean a lot to you... but even if racing isn't your thing, you just might learn a lot, and find something new to love.
If you're into Mattel's Hot Wheels, you may have seen the recent Forza Motorsport assortment of the Replica Entertainment Series that's been hitting stores, and now you could say that was just a little bit of foreshadowing. Hot Wheels has partnered with Microsoft’s popular racing game to create one of the coolest expansion packs – Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels – arriving on May 9 exclusively on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs (Xbox Play Anywhere) as part of the Forza Horizon 3 Expansion Pass or as a standalone purchase for $19.99. A trailer just hit my inbox, and I'm sharing it below. Check it out, along with all the details on the new expansion. Something tells me that the recent addition of an Xbox One to my office is going to be commanding some more attention...
For my annual Holiday Wish Guide last year, one of the hottest items featured came from Dynacraft in collaboration with The Toy Insider. Months later, the Dynacraft 24V Disney Princess Carriage (featured here) is still a hot item - and it's a head-turning ride whenever The Rock Daughters™ take it out for a spin. Available now as a Walmart exclusive (order here), the folks at Dynacraft are now asking kids - "What Does it Mean to Be a Princess?" In honor of National Princess Week 2017, kids (with the help of their parents) can create a 15-second video answering that question to be entered for a chance to win a Disney Princess Carriage of their own! Check this out...
As some of you might know, I recently visited Pixar Animation Studios for an early look at Disney•Pixar's Cars 3, after which I got to hit the track at Sonoma Raceway. As the June 16 release of the latest Cars film fast-approaches, back here in Illinois, families will be able to "meet" life-size, character look-alikes of five-time Piston-Cup champion Lightning McQueen, tech-savvy Cruz Ramirez and the sleek next-gen racer Jackson Storm THIS WEEKEND. The crew will be rolling into town to celebrate Cars 3 with local fans as the Cars 3: Road to the Races Tour hits the Chicagoland area for a stop at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, April 21-23, 2017.
I've written a lot about the Hess Toy Truck over the years, and while that remains a Christmas tradition, I don't think I've ever said much about their summer tradition - the Hess Mini Truck. For 17 years, Hess released a mini version of their iconic holiday toy truck - most recently offered for sale in 2014. Funny enough, that's the only Mini we have in our collection here at Rock Father HQ, as we picked one up at a Hess Express in Pennsylvania while in the midst of an epic road trip. In the three years since, fans have been demanding a relaunch of the Mini Hess Toy Truck, and today the Hess Corporation answered the call. Not only is Hess bringing back the Mini Hess Toy Truck, but they’re doing it as a special release on an exclusive basis in a way they never have before.
Mattel's ever-expanding line of Star Wars-inspired toys has been a big favorite here at Rock Father HQ, both with our family and readers of the site alike. Leading the charge has been the Star Wars Hot Wheels Character Cars (checklist here), and as promised last year, the 2017 Star Wars Celebration Orlando will be the place to get the exclusive Biggs Darklighter car - the winner of a fan's choice poll. As I'm not attending Celebration in-person, this one might be tough to get (I missed out on the previous Celebration-exclusive Boba Fett as well), but it's definitely something to see. Check out the image below, as debuted by Yahoo! this morning.
When it comes to the blockbuster films of 1977, if you're like me, the one that comes to mind is an out-of-nowhere film from a galaxy far, far away. Indeed, it was May 25, 1977 when STAR WARS first hit theater screens, but just two days later came the release of the year's second-biggest grosser - and another movie very near and dear to me: Hal Needham's SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT. This May, TCM Big Screen Classics and Fathom Events will bring SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT back to theaters, as it races into cinemas for a special two-night 40th Anniversary Event, May 21 & May 24!
The Rock Father™ has collaborated with Goodyear Auto Service for this #SpringCarCare feature.
To some extent you could say it was a “mild” winter here in Northern Illinois, though a more accurate appraisal would be that it was “largely snowless.” Despite a couple big snowstorms that were followed by relatively quick melts, it was still cold, and still icy, even though people made a big deal about the lack of powder. As early warmth arrived in February, bringing with it a quick emergence of sprouts that should’ve still been hidden, Jack Frost quickly struck back, sweeping in with one final arctic blast - as if to serve as a reminder of what winter can do. One thing winter is great at is trashing your vehicle, and with April being National Car Care Month, there’s no better time than now to get ready to rock the road once more.
The Rock Father™ is collaborating with Disney Pixar for the #Cars3Event
Over the course of four decades, I've had some adventures. In fact, some have been so unique, that I fully expect to one day become that white-haired old grandpa, who sits and spins tales so elaborate that younger generations don't know whether to believe them or not. As a grown-up, I've explored many career paths, my interests casting a wide net, quite possibly inspired by my own lineage. Even as a child, there were some uncommon experiences, and those adventures helped shape who I am today, though certain interests have gone dormant at times, only to be reignited somewhere later down the road. A love of cars and racing is a prime example, something once fueled by my dad's 70's/80's gig as a track announcer for UARA and World of Outlaw Midgets, and later doing NASCAR at the legendary (and sadly, closed) Santa Fe Speedway. As my adult life veered me toward exploits in music, television, film and writing, it was the birth of our daughters that brought all-things automotive back to the forefront. What we think really did it was Disney•Pixar's Cars... specifically, 2011's Cars 2. Addie was absolutely enamored by Lightning McQueen and Holley Shiftwell, and that ignited an octane-obsession that led to an impressive collection of Hot Wheels. I thought she loved cars... but her little sister has a passion that's even bigger. Those girls are responsible for "Rock Father Rides" even existing, and it's completely exciting how everything has all come together. Next week, I'll be at Pixar Animation Studios, stepping into the world of Cars 3! Indeed, The Rock Daughters™ are bummed that they can't come with for this one.
We have a tradition here at Rock Father HQ that every Spring, the Easter Bunny leaves the girls the new collection of Easter Hot Wheels - a set available in super-limited quantities at Walmart every year. While the Bunny has yet to find the 2017 set (I've spoken to him, and he's actively hunting), this year there's something else that Mattel has for the season, and it comes from the ever-growing world of Disney•Pixar's Cars. Available for a limited time, the Easter Cars assortment features vehicles and coordinating baskets that are based on the 2012 book, Mater and the Easter Buggy. Easter Lightning McQueen, Easter Mater, Easter Ramone, and yes, The Easter Buggy are all hopping into town... but the real trick is gonna be finding them.
Last month, while the folks at Mazda USA were in Southern California doing an unveiling of some of their upcoming rides for 2017, I was here in Northern Illinois enjoying one of their most recent releases - the 2016.5 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD. Now, I think a lot of readers might not be familiar with a mid-model-year update, as it's far less common these days as it used to be. Quite simply, the CX-5 received some updates to carry the '16 into '17, and hence the 2016.5 moniker. Thanks to the unseasonably warm temperatures and some suburbs-to-city adventures I had planned (the Nintendo Switch launch, for one), I was able to spend a solid week with the car, giving it a hands-on evaluation in several conditions. More importantly, I got some real family time in this one, using one of its Mazda siblings (and one of my favorite cars of the past year) for some comparison... the CX-9.
It's been a long time coming, but today Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has unveiled a seminal new concept in luxury - one hand-crafted for one very special customer, St Richard's Hospital Pediatric Day Surgery Unit in the auto maker's home town of Chichester, West Sussex, England. The Rolls-Royce SRH will allow children awaiting surgery to drive themselves to the operating theatre, through the Pediatric Unit corridors which are lined with 'traffic signs'. The experience of 'self-drive to theatre' aims to reduce child patient stress. See video of the car and the team behind it...