Toddlers, start your engines!

In an effort to expand its fanbase and plan for the future, NASCAR (search) is developing a new animated series for preschoolers.

The show, which is in the beginning stages of development, is the centerpiece of a multimedia plan dubbed NASCAR Jr. (search) that will include books, DVDs and other product spinoffs, NASCAR announced yesterday.

"It is not a racing series," cautions Dick Glover, vice president of broadcasting and new media for NASCAR. He says the series is consistent with NASCAR's focus on family.

"NASCAR is a family business and always has been and is one that does try to espouse family values," he said. "We're not just reaching out to the preschoolers but we are reaching out to their entire family."

The new untitled animated series will feature "a circle of friends who, in the tradition of NASCAR teams and pit crews, discover the value of teamwork and friendship during the course of their adventures," said an announcement from the racing organization.

Besides the kid characters, there will also be talking race cars and other vehicles. "It is a work in progress," Glover said.

The project is so new that NASCAR has not yet lined up a network to air the proposed show. But NASCAR is working with producers who know the kids' TV business — Dallas-based Reel FX Entertainment, whose principals include Dennis DeShazer, a co-creator of Barney the dinosaur.