I love when a series of movies comes full circle and leaves you feeling really good about the characters. Disney Pixar did this in the Toy Story series and I feel like they have done that again with Cars 3. It blends a healthy dose of new age racing with historic racing in the new film. Filmmakers included four NASCAR drivers in Cars 3 to represent the film’s next generation of racers: Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suárez and Bubba Wallace.
Filmmakers added four characters to the film that were inspired by real NASCAR legends, Junior Johnson, Louise Smith (from Barnesville GA!), Wendell Scott, and Henry “Smokey” Yunick. The reason this is so important is that they were some of the firsts in NASCAR history. Wendell Scott was the first African-American driver and he appears as River Scott in the film. NASCAR legend Louise Smith entered her first race in 1949, where she rolled her family’s new Ford coupe. Smith inspired “Cars 3” character Louise Barnstormer Nash. I'm so glad that they pointed this out during the movie. They mention having to steal their numbers in order to drive and even the moonshine running, which is how stock car racing all began. I love that Cars 3 is filled with lots of great history in the racing world.
We also get a healthy dose of Paul Newman in the film as Doc. It is a beautiful addition to the story and helps bring Cars 3 full circle in the series.
Director Brian Fee spoke about Paul Newman’s return to CinemaBlend during their interview:
“The Paul Newman voice you hear in that trailer is not actually in the film. There’s other Paul Newman stuff in the film. That was for the trailer. But we have lots of Paul Newman in the movie which was because when John [Lasseter] was recording Paul Newman in Cars 1 John always kept the tape [running]…we were always recording and Paul would tell stories in between takes and John just like [twirling motion with hand] ‘keep it going.’ We had 28 hours of Paul Newman stuff that we were able to listen to and repurpose.”
My favorite aspect of the film was the addition of Cruz played by Cristela Alonzo. Her character is hilarious and had me rolling on the floor most of the movie. She adds a much needed comic relief to Lightning McQueen's journey which is sad. Cruz has her own emotional story to share too. AND SHE'S A FEMALE RACER!
Then there is Miss Fritter! Another hilarious scene in the film. The moment they set foot on the dirt track it made me think of Georgia's own Dixie Speedway. After skimming through the credits I found that they were listed so maybe there was some derby mud racing research happening right here in Georgia! According to the production notes, artists designed and built eight race tracks for the film: Los Angeles International Speedway, Copper Canyon Speedway (Arizona), Heartland Motor Speedway (Iowa), Motor Speedway of the South, Thunder Hollow Dirt Track, Thomasville Speedway, Georgia Super Speedway, Florida International Super Speedway.
We are also given another great Disney Pixar short before the film. Pixar nails another great short story with Lou. When a toy-stealing bully ruins recess for a playground full of kids, only one thing stands in his way: the “Lost and Found” box. It is a touching story of days on the playground and the things that get left behind.
Go see Cars 3 in theaters now!