You know him better than you know your own brother, even if you don’t have a brother. He’s the Caddy with the golden touch, Mel ‘Are you there, Caller?’ Dorado — host of the 14 Gold Fender-winning syndicated talk show, the ‘Mel Dorado Show.’ With a career spanning more than three decades, when he started as an assistant at WCNC (World Car News Chicago), nobody steers an interview quite like Mel.
If you haven’t caught Mel’s show lately, you’ve missed more than you know, but how could you know if you’ve missed it? Fortunately, Walt Disney Studios and Pixar Animation Studios have provided us with actual transcripts of Mel’s interviews from the Tokyo National Art Center where a party was being held in honor of the World Grand Prix Racers. It was here that Mel caught up with some of the race participants and even a couple of eager fans.
Francesco Bernoulli grew up in the shadow of the famous Monza race course in Italy where he and his friends would sneak onto the track and race the famous Pista di Alta Velocita bank turn. He was an instant winner on the amateur circuit and soon became an international Formula Racer champion. The ladies love Francesco’s open wheels, youngsters look up to his winning spirit and fellow racers envy his speed. But Francesco’s biggest fan is Francesco himself, as evidenced by his racing number. As the most famous race car in Europe, #1 Francesco is a favorite to win the World Grand Prix.
MD: So Francesco Bernoulli, here we are on the eve of the World Grand Prix. What do you think of this new race and its three courses?
Francesco Bernoulli: There is so much beautiful scenery to drive through – it gives Francesco something to enjoy after he’s pulled so far ahead of his competitors.
MD: Are you looking forward to the second race in your hometown of Porto Corsa, Italy?
FB: Si, si. Francesco grew up racing on that track – he could win it blindfolded. But that would not be fair to the women who love to see Francesco’s beautiful eyes.
MD: Some are saying you might be the “Greatest Race Car in the World.” What do you say to that?
FB: Francesco puts his wheels on one at a time, just like everyone else. Of course, everyone else cannot do the stupendous things with their tires like Francesco can.
MD: What makes Francesco Bernoulli so fast?
FB: What makes Lightning McQueen so slow? Some questions can never truly be answered.
MD: Growing up near the famous Monza race course, did you always want to be a world champion race car?
FB: From the moment Francesco first raced the famous Pista di Alta Velocita bank turn he knew: he would be handsome, irresistible and the fastest race car in the world.
MD: You’re quite a popular race star. How do you deal with the fame?
FB: One “auto”-graph at a time.
MD: The field of racers is quite impressive. What do you think of your competitors and your chances of winning?
FB: These cars are all champions, Mel – most are undefeated in their racing leagues. In that way they are inexperienced, like babies. And so Francesco will make them cry, like babies.
MD: But one of your chief competitors, Lightning McQueen, has an advantage on those tricky dirt sections.
FB: What was that, Mel? Lightning McQueen likes to play dirty? Francesco would like to see him try!
MD: Finally, how fast is Francesco Bernoulli?
FB: When Francesco was very young he broke the speed limit. They still cannot repair it.
LIGHTNING McQUEEN AND MATER
Number 95 Lightning McQueen is still a hotshot racecar, but his rookie days are past him. Now a permanent resident of Radiator Springs, Lightning has become a bona fide worldwide celebrity as winner of four Piston Cups.
After his latest win, Lightning’s off-season is unexpectedly cut short when his best friend Mater, a rusty tow truck, inadvertently prompts Lightning to enter the World Grand Prix by calling into my show, “The Mel Dorado Show.” Lightning invites Mater to come along to the races as a member of his pit crew, and Mater leaves Carburetor County for the first time.
MD: So Lightning McQueen, how do you feel about your friend Mater here getting you involved in the World Grand Prix?
Lightning McQueen: I couldn’t be more excited. I mean, come on: I get to race against the greatest champions in the world with my best buddy at my side.
(Lightning looks around puzzled.) Was right here at my side. Mater?
(Mater arrives, licking his lips.)
Mater: Mmm-mmm. Free food just tastes better, I’ll tell you what.
MD: Mater, I understand you’re part of the Team Lightning McQueen pit crew for these races?
Mater: Yeah, Guido and Luigi are doing his tires, Fillmore’s on the fuel, Sarge is keeping an eye on some other stuff. And I… shoot, what is my job anyway?
LM: Uh, well —
Mater: It’s so important he can’t say it publicly.
MD: Lightning, there are some worthy competitors, like Francesco Bernoulli and Lewis Hamilton. How do you feel about your chances?
LM: I leave the handicapping up to you guys, Mel. I just go out there, race hard, leave everyone in the dust. Hopefully.
MD: But these tracks are really different than the Piston Cup ovals.
LM: I see where you’re going with this, Mel. Listen, if I can “turn right to go left” I can definitely turn right to go right. Right?
MD: Mater, this is your first time overseas. What have you seen and experienced since your arrival in Tokyo?
Mater: I thought Radiator Springs had a lot of neon but dadgum this place has us beat, I’ll tell you what! Plus everyone here treats me like a king – bowing and stuff when I enter a room. And sumo wrestling? Where’s that been hiding my whole life? I saw a Kabuki show, which I didn’t fall asleep in, and then tonight I ate some bad pistachio ice cream, met a Pacer and a Gremlin in the craziest bathroom you ever seen and then got asked on a date by the most beautiful car in the whole world! Just an average Tuesday for Mater.
FINN McMISSILE AND HOLLEY SHIFTWELL
In addition to dignitaries, celebrities and the World Grand Prix competitors, I also spoke to some of the many other guests in attendance at the Tokyo gala on the eve of the first race.
Among the party guests were British natives and race fans Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell. While both claimed to be in Tokyo for the race, their evasive responses and furtive glances around the room lead me to believe they may have had interests on other clandestine levels. Miss Shiftwell was beautiful, young and engaging, though seemed to be following the lead of her colleague, McMissile – suave, eloquent and clearly a seasoned professional in his business, whatever that may be…
MD: Welcome to the World Grand Prix. What brings you to the party this evening?
Holley Shiftwell: (Surprised) Oh! Well, uh… The race, of course. We love racing. I’ve been a fan for years. And, uh —
Finn McMissile: We’re straight from London on urgent business. I’m in the import/export business.
MD: What kind of things do you import?
FM: Nothing of import.
MD: Do you have a favorite race car to win the World Grand Prix?
HS: I like Lewis Hamilton. He’s very good looking. And sweet, too. But of course, I’m biased, being British. The Japanese racer, Shu Todor… Todoroku. Or is it Todoroki? He seems formidable. I wouldn’t count him —
FM: Actually, as it turns out, we have a colleague on Lightning McQueen’s team.
HS: (Turning to Finn) We do? Oh, you mean the lorry.
FM: (To Mel) Yes, the lorry. Or a “tow truck” as you American’s say.
HS: (To Mel) Well, this lorry is definitely American. But he seemed sweet.
(Finn eyes Holley.)
HS: What? He did.
FM: Either way, we’ll be watching Lightning McQueen’s pit tomorrow. But we’ll be keeping our eyes on all the racers. Just in case.
MD: “In case” of what?
MD: I don’t under —
FM: You hope for the best and plan for the worst. But Miss Shiftwell and I are ready for anything that comes speeding toward us.
MD: Is this your first time in Tokyo? Will you be traveling to Porto Corsa and London for the other two races?
FM: Wherever my job leads me, I follow, even if it involves danger or certain death.
MD: We’re still talking about the import/export business, right?
FM: (Laughs knowingly, then turning to Holley, referencing Mel) I like this one. He gets it.
HS: I’ll be going home, Mel. My mission — I mean, my job here, is done after tonight.
FM: We’ll see about that.
FM: Something tells me you may be of more use to us than you think.
MD: Well, there are a lot of interesting cars here. I think I even saw a Pacer and Gremlin!
HS: Yes, we’ve been observing them as well.
FM: I’d keep my distance if I were you. Those cars drive angry.