The character Mater was mostly inspired by an old, rusty tow truck seen on a vacant lot in Galena, KS.,
a small community which also was "a tremendous influence for the town of Radiator Springs in the movie" according to John Lasseter - director of Pixar's "Cars" Movie!
Going.........................Going............................................Gone!         Galena's Green Parrot Lounge was lost to a mine cave-in!
Below is the old Kan-O-Tex station on Route 66 in Galena where "Cars" director John Lassiter and Pixar's Joe Ranft saw the old, rusty boom truck that inspired the "Tow Mater" character. Click the logo below to see the restored building.
Galena's stretch of Route 66 still has lots of old, deserted buildings, some of which were partial inspirations for the fictional town of "Radiator Springs" in the movie "Cars".
The "Springs" part may have come from the nearby Kansas town of "Baxter Springs" which is also on Route 66.
Below:  The Galena Railroad museum has a fantastic amount of Route 66 related items! 
For promotional purposes, 3 full-sized  copies were made of each of the main Characters in the movie "Cars"!
Left: The restoration of the old Kan-O-Tex filling station was only the beginning.

Right: Buck's Recreation building just south on Main Street.............. 

The old Galena movie theater 
has seen better days.
Restoration plans for this structure nearly completed, and include a Route 66 display, photos, a Gift Shop, Snack Bar and the old boom truck that inspired the Tow Mater character!
This guy built the full-sized models! >
Galena's old "Boom" truck discovered in field, confirmed as the inspiration for the Mater character in "CARS"!
From Michael Wallis, Author of "Route 66: The Mother Road:
"The truck is definitely Mater. No doubt about it.Tell 'em you got the word straight from The Sheriff. Keep me posted please". Michael
(Obtained By Ron Warnick-Route 66 News
Larry Courtney, Galena Businessman
Ron Hart, Visit
     After a 3-week effort, Ron Hart, Route 66 Chamber Director, finally succeeded in his search for the old boom truck that sat at an abandoned gas station for many years.  According to an article in the summer edition of Route 66 Magazine, the truck was spotted in Galena, KS. by author Michael Wallis and "Cars" director John Lasseter, who were looking for "character inspirations" during a Route 66 tour in 2001.  The boom truck became the inspiration for the most popular character in the movie, "Tow Mater", voiced by Larry the Cable Guy.

     When Ron learned (in the Route 66 Magazine article) that the closed filling station had been purchased, he enlisted the aid of the new gas station's owner, Larry Courtney (Galena businessman) and his employee, Charley McCumbera, who were previously unaware of the truck's connection to the Pixar movie. In short order, the 1951 International truck was found in a farm field and purchased by Mr. Courtney.  He has placed the truck on display at the old Kan-O-Tex filling station the "Four Women on the Route" have restored at North Main and Route 66 in Galena.

     According to Mr. Hart, "I am glad to see that the truck will be displayed (in it's original condition) where it was originally seen by the Pixar tour group, and I'm sure it will become a very popular Route 66 attraction that should benefit the whole community of Galena."

     A public Open House (and Route 66 80th. Birthday party) was held Saturday, November 11th. at the filling station where the truck was on display along with classic cars for public viewing. The truck was also named "Tow Tater" by the winner of a Galena elementary school contest and cake cutting followed.  The newly-refurbished Kan-O-Tex filling station is now open, and features Route 66 gifts, a snack bar, art works, photo displays and more.  (CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO CLIPS)
Website:  CARS on the Route 
Credit photos to: Visit
The truck is a 1951 International L-170 Series.Plans are to keep the truck in the same condition when first seen in 2001.The aluminum beer keg was used as a gas tank.
This photo of Pixar's Joe Ranft studying the old tow truck was taken in 2001. It disappeared shortly thereafter. Sadly, Joe died in an accident in 2005.
VISIT  van on North Main St. looking South
This rare, original Will Rogers Highway plaque is in the new Route 66 City Park on Main Street that comemorates Will Rogers.

Many of Galena's mining era downtown buildings were built in the late 1800's and feature ornate trim and brickwork.
Above: Photo of Old 66 approaching Galena from the east.  This area around Galena looks more like one would find in America's Southwest, and due to years of mining activity, it is locally called "Hells Half Acre".
The Galena Viaduct is shown in the distance.
1926 - 2006
Click here to visit the restored gas station where the truck is on display, and a photo of Dean Walker, who inspired Mater's backwards driving.
Left:  This long, blue and skinny device is a 1918 "Auto Ambulance"!  Since there were few tow trucks in those days, this device was placed under the rear axle of a motorcar, the boom lowered (lifting the rear of the disabled car) and hitched to any other vehicle with a "hitch", then towed to a garage. This device is on display at the museum.

Below: Route 66 looking east from Galena's Front Street bridge 
Click on the cake to see more detailed information about the Anniversary Party in Galena
"Tow Tater" on  display at Nov. 11th. Route 66 Anniv. Party, 2006
Before, During and After Restoration.
The Front Street Garage across the street is currently undergoing restoration.