Bubba Wallace, Ryan Blaney visit The Galaxy’s Edge

Photos by Jerry Jordan/Kickin' the Tires

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – In hopes of defeating the evil Galactic Empire, NASCAR drivers Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace descended on the Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World, on Tuesday. They dodged asteroids in the pilot’s seat of the Millennium Falcon and then fired at TIE Fighters trying to keep them from their destination – the Daytona 500 – at the “Car Destroyer,” known as Daytona International Speedway.

Blaney, an avid Star Wars fan, said the experience was “pretty great” but it did have its limitations in the cockpit as he and Wallace shared the controls.

“You could either go left or right or up and down, you couldn’t do both, so that was interesting. That was cool man,” Blaney said. “The rides here are awesome and the detail they put into this place, I am going to walk around here a little bit after we are done and actually be able to, kind of, take it all in. Just really cool, it’s my first time here.”

Blaney and Wallace also participated in the Rise of the Resistance, escaping from the First Order and foiling Kylo Ren as he tries to use the Force to learn the location of Resistance Base. The new ride features a trackless journey in a transport through six different scenes. It was the technology and creativity that captivated Wallace, who admits he doesn’t get geeked out over Star Wars, like Blaney does.

“He (Blaney) has got a couple of tattoos, he’s a huge Star Wars fan. I just never got into it,” Wallace said, as he stood in front of a life-size Millennium Falcon over his should. “I haven’t seen one movie, I never understood the hype but being here today, it gives you a new appreciation for it. I think I am more of a fan of the work that went into making this stuff possible than I am the actual Star Wars stuff. But all in all, a cool experience …

“The Resistance ride that we went on, as soon as we started, I was looking and you guys’ car was in front of us and I was like, ‘there’s tire marks’ and ‘I don’t see any grooves in those tire marks.’ Then the next thing you know, you don’t see any grooves, at all, and you’re like, ‘holy cow, this is awesome.’ It’s all wireless transmitting stuff this is really cool. Every park inside Disney World I would like to sit-in on the soundboard for, ‘Hey, this is what we want to do for our next park’ and just hear the ideas they have because it’s incredible.”

Wallace wasn’t alone in his appreciation of animatronics intricacies, robotics and the magic that brings Star Wars to life, Blaney was also captivated by the Rise of the Resistance attraction. But as Wallace explained, Blaney is an overall Star Wars geek. From the giant Darth Vader tattoo on his thigh to his Princess Leia in chains – ala The Return of the Jedi – costume this past year for Halloween, Blaney is said to be the biggest Star Wars fan in the NASCAR garage.

“I haven’t looked the reviews on any of the rides here because I wanted to be surprised about it and it was crazy,” Blaney said. “I mean, not only the technology of the things were in that transported us, there were no tracks. They said they preprogram the route and they go the same route every time, so I thought was cool and made it really futuristic.”

Blaney said he was better at being a gunner than he was piloting the Millennium Falcon. His takedown rate for TIE Fighters was over 70-percent but dodging asteroids was about as hard as dodging cars on the track.

“It’s alright, it was a hunk of junk,” Blaney said.

Wallace said bouncing off of asteroids reminded him of racing at Pocono.

“Yeah, I had flashbacks of Pocono,” Wallace said. “We came up to a spot where it said to ‘hit the brakes’ and I am like, there is nothing lighting up telling me to hit the brakes and we ran right into something and that was, kind of, abrupt so it brought me back to Pocono a little bit.”

Although Wallace doesn’t share the Star Wars fandom that Blaney clings to and Blaney isn’t interested in Wallace’s penitent for expensive watches and photography, the two friends can usually be found hanging out together away from the track – the common denominator being buddy comedies.

“Ninety-five percent of our conversations are quoting Bad Boys, and Friday or any movie that we see that has catchy one-liners,” Wallace said.

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