The Cars DVD was released November 7, 2006. Find one today on our CARS DVD page.
Cars is an animated feature film presented by Walt Disney Pictures, produced by Pixar Animation Studios, and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Its release date was June 9, 2006 in the US, and July 28, 2006 in the UK. This movie is the seventh Disney/Pixar feature film.
Directed by John Lasseter (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2), the film is set in a world populated entirely by anthropomorphized cars and other vehicles, and features the voices of Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, John Ratzenberger, George Carlin, and Larry the Cable Guy. Many of the voices of the racecars are real NASCAR drivers. They include Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. There are also many minor characters that are puns on the voice actors' names, and also puns on other names. For example: the two announcers, Darrell Cartrip and Bob Cutlass, are voiced by three-time NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip, and sportscaster Bob Costas. Other puns include the minor character Jay Limo, and his voice actor comedian Jay Leno, and minor characters Mini and Van (a pun on the word "Minivan"). Also, minor racecars that include seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher (his part actually lasted under 15 seconds), are voiced by racers with the exact same name. The film was rated G by the MPAA.
The film premiered on May 26, 2006 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Production
- 3 Critical reaction
- 4 Box office performance
- 5 Attached short films
- 5.1 One Man Band
- 5.2 Mater and the Ghostlight
- 6 Vehicles and voice cast
- 7 Video game adaptations / follow ups
- 8 Merchandising
- 9 Individual characters
- 10 Cultural diversity
- 11 NASCAR Differences
- 12 Setting
- 13 Route 66
- 14 References to previous Pixar movies
- 15 References to other movies
- 16 Other References
- 17 Trivia
- 18 References
- 19 External links
Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is a red race car who has dreamed all his life of winning the Piston Cup Championship. Arrogant and overconfident, McQueen believes he is a "one man show", and ignores the advice of his pit crew. McQueen has an enormous lead in the final lap of the Piston Cup Championship and is about to become the first rookie to win it, until his rear tires (which he hadn't let his pit crew take the time to change) blow out. McQueen barely finishes the race and ends up in a three-way tie with the cheater Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton) and the veteran champion, "The King" Strip Weathers (Richard Petty).
After the race, McQueen and his transport truck buddy Mack (John Ratzenberger) (seemingly his only real friend after his pit crew quit) begin a journey across the country from North Carolina to California where the tie-breaker race will be held. Lightning wants to get to California first and refuses to let Mack stop for the night at a nearby truck stop. With each mile down Interstate 40 Mack gets even more tired, eventually dozing off on the road completely. Four tricked-out street racers have fun with the sleeping rig, and a bump in the road causes a sleeping McQueen to roll onto the interstate highway. After narrowly avoiding collisions, McQueen attempts to find Mack, but instead mistakenly chases a similar looking trailer, and finds himself lost on Route 66. He speeds past the Sheriff of Radiator Springs (Michael Wallis), who gives chase; McQueen mistakes the Sheriff's back-fires for gunshots and speeds away through the darkness, tearing up the main street of Radiator Springs until he becomes caught in some telephone wires.
Next morning, McQueen awakens to find himself impounded. After talking with Mater the tow truck (Larry The Cable Guy), he is taken to court. Local judge and doctor Doc Hudson (Paul Newman) initially orders the race car out of town immediately, but Sally (Bonnie Hunt), a Porsche and the town's attorney, arrives and convinces the Doc to make the race car stay and repair the road. With Doc's mind changed for him, he hooks McQueen up to Bessie, the large, dirty asphalt machine. McQueen is told that it should take him five days to finish repaving the stretch he damaged.
McQueen remains interested only in leaving the town to make it to his race. McQueen makes an escape attempt and a botched rush job at fixing the road, Doc Hudson challenges McQueen to a desert race: if McQueen wins, he leaves town and Doc fixes the road. If Doc wins, Lightning fixes the road Doc's way. At the race, Doc is left in McQueen's dust as the hot rod roars off at the start of the race. Doc remains at the starting line, before requesting Mater's help as they slowly go down the road. As Doc expected, McQueen overshoots a tight turn in the dirt, and winds up over a cliff in a cactus patch. Doc wins the race as Mater fishes McQueen out of the patch.
After the race, McQueen fixes half the road, amazing the townsfolk with its paved smoothness. Since he had run out of asphalt, the Sheriff allows him to try to make the turn again, but he continues to fail. Doc hints that he is to use the opposite lock steering, but McQueen ignores his elder. After a time, he finds out Doc's biggest secret: he was the famous Piston Cup racer, the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, and the winner of three consecutive trophies. Angered, Doc forces him out of the clinic's garage. He also reveals that his career ended prematurely because of a devastating crash. When he was fixed back up, no one wanted him anymore. Sally finally decides to take McQueen for a drive through Route 66, ending at the Wheel Well Motel, an old hotel located at the top of a bluff overlooking the entire town and valley. At the top, McQueen learns that the town once thrived, before being bypassed after the construction of Interstate 40 decades ago. As time goes on, McQueen understands the town's troubles, and becomes friends with all of the residents. After he finishes the road, McQueen gets service from all the townsfolk and they hold a "cruise" (which is slow-driving). At that point, Doc tips off the media that McQueen is in their town after McQueen helps everyone out, and he is whisked away with Mack and a mob of reporters to the big race.
At the race in California, Lightning is distracted by thoughts of Sally and Radiator Springs. Lagging behind, McQueen finally revitalizes after half of Radiator Springs townsfolk arrive to become his pit crew, making it to the race, with Doc as the crew chief. This encouragement enables McQueen to catch up to the leaders and make a run for the race. On the last lap, Chick Hicks takes a desperate resort to avoid coming in last place, and rear-ends The King, sending him into the air, ending in a horrific end-over-end flip. Lightning, almost about to win, sees the screen and the wreck. Remembering how Doc's crash ended his career, he hits his brakes, stopping just short of the finishing line. He sits there until Chick passes, before going back and pushing The King to the line to finish his career with dignity, knowing that he didn't want the fate that Doc suffered to happen to The King as well. Chick wins the Piston Cup, but is completely booed; everyone admires The King and McQueen. McQueen is offered the Dinoco endorsement, but turns it down to remain with his original sponsor, Rust-eze (Tom and Ray Magliozzi), saying that "they gave me my big break." But he does ask that Tex (H.A. Wheeler), the president of Dinoco, do him a favor and give Mater a ride in Dinoco's helicopter, to follow through on a promise he'd made. He then decides to move to Radiator Springs and build his racing headquarters there, along with a Doc Hudson Museum. Thanks to McQueen, Radiator Springs gets a boost of tourism again, revitalizing the town, and the once abandoned Route 66 becomes a major traffic roadway once more, having officially been reclassified as "Historic Route 66".
Unlike most animated cars, the film's cars' eyes were placed on the windshield (which resembles the Tonka Talking Trucks and the characters from Tex Avery's One Cab's Family short). According to production designer Bob Pauley, “From the very beginning of this project, John [Lasseter] had it in his mind to have the eyes be in the windshield. For one thing, it separates our characters from the more common approach where you have little cartoon eyes in the headlights. For another, he thought that having the eyes down near the mouth at the front end of the car made the character feel more like a snake. With the eyes set in the windshield, the point of view is more human-like, and made it feel like the whole car could be involved in the animation of the character.” The characters also use their vehicle antennas as hands, much like those in the Putt-Putt computer games. The exceptions are Mater, the tow truck, who uses his tow hook. and the various fork-lift characters, who use their forks.
The original script was written in 1998 and the producers agreed that Cars would be the next movie after A Bug's Life, and would be released in early 1999. However, that movie was scrapped and the production of Toy Story 2 took place. Later, production resumed with major script changes.
The race sequence in the teaser trailer was likely made before the other sequences, as the Piston Cup cars sport different body styles and paint jobs.
In 2001, the movie's working title was Route 66 (after U.S. Route 66), but in 2002, the title was changed to prevent people from thinking it was related to the 1960 television show with the same name.
Cars was originally going to be released on November 4, 2005, but soon after the trailer's release in January 2005, the movie's release date was changed to June 9, 2006. Not only would it receive a summer release, one of the complex shots in the movie crashed Pixar's server. Chicken Little was instead released on November 4.
Cars is the last film made by Joe Ranft, who died in a car crash in 2005. The film was the second to be dedicated to his memory (The first being Corpse Bride).
Initial critical reaction was generally positive. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars (out of a possible four) and said, "The movie is great to look at and a lot of fun, but somehow lacks the extra push of the other Pixar films." Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post called the film "great fun" and gave it four stars (out of a possible four). Manohla Dargis of The New York Times reviewed the film unfavorably, criticizing its emphasis on mechanical characters and landscape and lack of living creatures. In her review, Christy Lemire of the Associated Press remarked extensively on the plot's striking similarity to 1991's Doc Hollywood. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly also commented on this similarity in her review. Lemire was more positive and gave the film an A-. Although the film acquired the lowest percentage thus far for a Pixar animated feature, it still boasts a "certified fresh" 76% rating at RottenTomatoes (as of June 15, 2006), with a 78% rating from the "Cream of the Crop" reviewers. Cars was recognized by the Heartland Film Festival with the Truly Moving Picture award. Director John Lasseter won the 2006 Will Rogers Award for the positive influence the film has had on Route 66.
Box office performance
Information obtained through the Box Office Mojo.
Domestic (US + Canada) Box Office:
Total Box Office:
The movie premiered strongly, continuing Pixar's streak of #1 debuts for each of the company's feature films. It earned as much in its first weekend as the total domestic gross of Disney's earlier NASCAR movie Herbie: Fully Loaded. However, the film's performance was less than the previous two Pixar movies, The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, which both made over $70 million their opening weekends. As a result, Disney's stock price dropped slightly.
Cars faced competition from several heavy-hitting movies released in the 2006 summer season, including Click, Superman Returns, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Despite this, Cars managed to perform well, achieving domestic blockbuster status after crossing $200M domestic on July 8th, 2006.
Cars spent 13 days (non-consecutive) as the #1 movie in the domestic box office, lasted five weeks in the top five and seven in the top ten. On its 8th weekend, it overtook X-Men: The Last Stand as the second highest grossing film of 2006 in the US Box Office. It currently ranks as the top grossing film of the car racing genre.
Attached short films
One Man Band
Main article: One Man Band
The theatrical and video/DVD releases of this film include the academy award nominated One Man Band, a Pixar short made in 2005, a year before this film was released.
Mater and the Ghostlight
Main article: Mater and the Ghostlight
The video/DVD release of this film will be released November 7th 2006. Also, it will include an additional short called Mater and the Ghostlight, starring one of the film's characters, Mater, with Larry The Cable Guy reprising his role.
Vehicles and voice cast
The vehicle characters seen throughout the movie and the actors that were used for their voices are:
|Lightning McQueen||Pixar: "A hybrid between a stock car and a more curvaceous LeMans endurance racer (like Lolas and the Ford GT40)."||Owen Wilson|
|Mater||1955 Chevrolet One-Ton Wrecker Tow Truck||Larry the Cable Guy|
|Sally Carrera||2002 Porsche 911 Carrera (Type 996)||Bonnie Hunt|
|Doc Hudson||1951 Hudson Hornet||Paul Newman|
|Ramone||1959 Chevy Impala lowrider||Cheech Marin|
|"The King" Strip Weathers||Richard Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird, #43||Richard Petty|
|Fillmore||1960 VW Bus||George Carlin|
|Sarge||1942 Willys MB/1946 Willys CJ-2A hybrid||Paul Dooley|
|Luigi||1959 Fiat 500||Tony Shalhoub|
|Guido||Pixar custom forklift, resembles an Isetta model.||Guido Quaroni|
|Chick Hicks||Pixar: "a generic 1980's stock car." Albeit one that resembles a mid-1980s Buick Regal stock car.||Michael Keaton|
|Sheriff||1949 Mercury Club Coupe||Michael Wallis|
|Mack||1985 Mack Superliner||John Ratzenberger|
|Lizzie||1923 Ford Model T||Katherine Helmond|
|Flo||1957 Motorama show car||Jenifer Lewis|
|Red||1960s style fire truck (most closely resembles a mid-1960s Pirsch pumper but also resembles American LaFrance models)||Joe Ranft|
|Peterbilt||Peterbilt 362||Joe Ranft|
|Harv||Not seen||Jeremy Piven / Jeremy Clarkson (UK)|
|Darrell Cartrip||1976 Chevrolet Monte Carlo||Darrell Waltrip|
|Bob Cutlass||1999 Oldsmobile Aurora||Bob Costas|
|Mrs. "The King" Weathers||1972 Chrysler Town and Country w/solid nose||Lynda Petty|
|Rusty Rust-Eze||1964 Dodge A100 van||Tom "Car Talk" Magliozzi|
|Dusty Rust-Eze||1963 Dodge Dart V1.0||Ray "Car Talk" Magliozzi|
|Tex||1975 Cadillac Coupe de Ville||H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler|
|Jay Limo||Generic Limousine; resembles a late-1990s Lincoln Town Car||Jay Leno|
|Fred the Rusty Car||1962 Rambler Ambassador||Andrew Stanton|
|Junior||2002 NASCAR standard body stocker||Dale Earnhardt Jr.|
|Mario Andretti||1967 Ford Fairlane Daytona 500 winner||Mario Andretti|
|Michael Schumacher||2005 Ferrari F430||Michael Schumacher|
|McQueen's Biggest Fan||Large Motor home||Doug "Mater" Keever|
|Motor Home Race Fan||1978 Class A Motor home||Larry Benton|
|Wingo||2000 Nissan Silvia||Adrian Ochoa|
|Boost||1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse||Jonas Rivera|
|Snot Rod||1970 Plymouth AAR Barracuda||Lou Romano|
|DJ||2004 Scion xB||E.J. Holowicki|
|Tia||1990 Mazda Miata||Elissa Knight|
|Mia||1990 Mazda Miata||Lindsey Collins|
|Not Chuck||forklift||Mike Nelson|
|Minny||Generic minivan||Edie McClurg|
|Van||Generic minivan img||Richard Kind|
|The Governator||Hummer H1||Arnold Schwarzeneger (uncredited)|
|Woody||Ford Woodie wagon||Tom Hanks|
|Buzz Lightyear||Toy Spaceship Car||Tim Allen|
|Flik||1966 Volkswagen "Bug"||Dave Foley|
|Mike Wazowski||Isetta||Billy Crystal|
|Sulley||Monster Truck||John Goodman|
|Abominable Snowplow||Snowcat||John Ratzenberger|
|Hamm||small SUV||John Ratzenberger|
|P.T. Flea||Unknown car||John Ratzenberger|
|Poser "never been off road" SUV||Hummer H1 wagon with spinner mags||uncredited|
|Dinoco helicopter||upsized Bell 222||uncredited|
|Kori Turbowitz||Ford Taurus/Opel Tigra hybrid||Sarah Clark|
|Frank the bull||"Kubota orange" combine harvester||Tom Myers|
|Marco||2002 Ford Expedition Security SUV||uncredited|
|Cows||American 1950s chewall tractors||Tom Myers|
|Lightyear Blimp||Goodyear blimp||uncredited|
|Chuck Manifold||Plymouth Reliant||uncredited|
|Chibi Japanese news woman||Mazda AZ-1||uncredited|
|Stanley||Identified as a Ford Model T pickup by a Pixar artist, but has a Stanley front end.||none|
|A113 Train||EMD F7A and B diesel locomotive||none|
|Mario Andretti's Wife||2005 Maserati Quattroporte||none|
|Other Race Cars||NASCAR Stockcar||None|
|Pit Crew Chiefs||Ford F550||Uncredited|
|Checkered Flag Truck||Ford F-150||none|
|U.S. Marine Corps fighters||Modified AV-8 Harrier II with missiles hardpoints on the wingtips and two vertical stabilizers, as in the F/A-18 Hornet||none|
|Dinoco Girls||Recycled animations of Kori Turbowitz (1994 Opel Tigra/Ford Taurus)||none|
|Souvenir Truck||Chevy Astro||uncredited|
|Elvis RV Cab||Ford E-350 RV||none|
The name of the main character, Lightning McQueen, is a tribute to Glenn McQueen, a Pixar animator who died in 2002. The name refers also to actor Steve McQueen who was famous for some of the greatest car and racing movies, including Bullitt and Le Mans, and topic of a Sheryl Crow hit song. Lightning McQueen's number is 95, the year Toy Story was released. His original number was 57, the same year director John Lasseter was born (this can be seen in several of the teaser trailers), but was changed before the movie came out.
Lightning McQueen is no car in particular, but has elements of many sports cars. His headlights are stickers, like in NASCAR, and he also has many sponsor decals on his sides, once again similar to NASCAR. Pixar was shown a Corvette by GM, which influenced his design. His overall profile was inspired by the Ford GT40. His tail resembles that of a Dodge Viper, while the tail lenses and roof are consistent with a Ford Mustang. The full size tour car is based on a Pontiac Firebird. His custom two-tone paint and tires are from a 50s Chevrolet Corvette. Overall, his appearance is a hybrid between a stock car and various other sports cars, but tilted slightly towards the stock car style.
McQueen's wheels are the same color as his body, resembling several NASCAR racecars of the past.
Many cars only call Lightning by his last name, McQueen, although Sally calls him "Stickers" on account of his having no headlights, but stickers in their place.
Lightning admits in the video game that he does not have a middle name.
Sally, the romantic interest, is a stock Porsche Carrera. A Carrera's tail will pop up at highway speeds, but it can also be raised by the driver manually, and it was raised when she showed the custom pin striping. Pixar originally wanted a classic model, but Porsche persuaded them to use a 2002 model.
The King, voiced by Richard Petty, is Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird, in "Petty Blue" with his number 43. The Superbird was a stock Plymouth Roadrunner with added aerodynamic features designed by Chrysler engineers from NASA projects (American Muscle Car TV series). The goalpost wing and shark nose were so fast that they were effectively banned in 1971, starting a trend of slowing cars down to speeds below 200 MPH. The King's crash in the film is an accurate frame-by-frame recreation of Rusty Wallace's crash at Talladega in 1993.(). Petty was known as the King on the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit. When John Lasseter asked Petty if he wanted to be in a movie he initially refused saying "I want to drive a race car." He said yes when told it was an animated film. Like The King, the real-life Richard Petty also crashed in his last race (the 1992 Hooters 500), although it was not as severe as the movie. Ironically, that race was also the first for 4-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon.
Villain Chick Hicks voiced by Michael Keaton, is number 86, a reference to Luxo Jr., released in 1986, and possibly also to the slang for killing or getting rid of someone (to "86" someone), as parodied in the code "number" for Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 on Mel Brooks's comedy television series Get Smart. Chick's body closely resembles the Quaker State Buick Regal that Ricky Rudd drove in the 1980s, though Pixar animators have said the character is a generic 1980's stock car. Michael Keaton was also in Herbie: Fully Loaded, another NASCAR-themed Disney movie. Chick's real last name is Murphy, although no one mentions it in the movie. His last name is also a reference to Trip Murphy, the antagonist in Herbie: Fully Loaded.
Rusty & Dusty Rust-eze (the cars seen in front of McQueen's trailer after the race) are direct parodies of Click & Clack, The Tappet Brothers from the radio show Car Talk. They even say their trademark phrase used to end their show, "Don't drive like my brother!" as Mack is leaving the track. They are also voiced by the Tappet Brothers themselves: Ray & Tom Magliozzi. The characters were also originally named Clink and Clunk. Dusty, the character voiced by Ray Magliozzi, is a 1963 Dodge Dart, a car Ray often reminisces about semi-fondly on Car Talk.
Former champion Doc Hudson's plate is "51HHMD," which is the real license plate of the original 1951 Fabulous Hudson Hornet and could be mistaken to mean "1951 Hudson Hornet, M.D." His record of 27 wins in a single season is the same as that of the 1952 Fabulous Hudson Hornet racing team, and his championships are the same years as the Hudson team.
Sheriff is voiced by Michael Wallis, renowned author of The Mother Road series of books about Historic Route 66. Sheriff has curb feelers on both sides which were used in older cars to detect proximity to a curb.
Fillmore, the Volkswagen Bus voiced by George Carlin, has license plate "51237" representing Carlin's birth date: May 12, 1937. His license plate dangles below his front bumper, forming a goatee typical of the 1960s hippies which the car represents. He lives in a geodesic dome with blacklight paint. Asian Week noted that Fillmore's character is actually an impression of half-Chinese Tommy Chong's hippie of the Cheech and Chong comedy record duo, although the character's voice more closely resembles Carlin's own Al Steet, the hippie-dippy weatherman, a skit that Carlin performed in the 60's and 70's. Pixar missed an opportunity to get Cheech and Chong together, but Cheech in a recent review said he didn't want to do that team again. The name Fillmore is a reference to Fillmore East and West - the concert hall where many artists during the 1960's and 1970's performed. The Fillmore is located in San Francisco which was considered a hippy haven in the 60's.
Darrell Cartrip is played by Darrell Waltrip, a retired race car driver who does race commentary for the FOX network. He raced a 1976 Chevy Monte Carlo with stacked headlights. He often raced with the number 17. Darrell is fond of colorful flame paint schemes. "Boogity boogity boogity!" is what Waltrip's character utters as the tiebreaker race starts. The real-life Darrell also utters this at the start of every NASCAR race and during some restarts. Also, right after the multicar wreck starts, Darrell announces: "Trouble!" This is the same word usually said by NASCAR commentators during or after a wreck.
Bob Cutlass is portrayed by Bob Costas, who is well known for his various works on NBC. Although the name is a reference to the Oldsmobile Cutlass, which is said to be the best-known model name for the General Motors division that was discontinued after 2004, he is actually shown as an Aurora.
The #58 "Octane Gain" racecar in the film's first race (look for it in "The Big One") appears to be a Toyota Camry, which NASCAR will start using in 2007.
The character Sarge is a possible reference to Sarge, the commander of the army men in Toy Story, or simply a generic veteran. He lives in a Quonset hut.
In the teaser, a car that appears to be Luigi waves the checkered flag for McQueen.
A van with a black and pink camper-trailer resembling Elvis Presley appears twice in the movie, in the RV park at the beginning, and behind the announcers at the Piston Cup Finale. On its side is "Elvis RV Cab". Next to the van at the Piston Cup is the Pizza Planet delivery truck, which is a reference to Toy Story.
Flo could be a possible reference to Al McWhiggin's Car in Toy Story 2. In Finding Nemo it is also the name of the imaginary sister to the character Deb, one of the fish in the fish tank at the dentist's office. (Deb mistakenly believes her own reflection in the glass of the fish tank to be her sister who she calls Flo.) She may also be a reference to the character Florence Jean "Flo" Castleberry (Polly Holliday) from the television series Alice in which both she and Alice are employed as waitresses in a diner.
Big Red could be a reference to the Pixar short film Red's Dream.
Minny and Van are, of course, a pun on the word minivan.
Some cars are cast by their owners, others by their nation of manufacture.
The character Mater at different points in the movie says "Git R Done" and "I don't care who you are, that's funny right there," both catchphrases of Daniel Lawrence Whitney (credited as Larry the Cable Guy), who voices the character in the stereotypical drawl of an American Hillbilly. Mater is named after Douglas "Mater" Keever, whom John Lasseter met at Lowe's Motor Speedway. His character is comparable to Gilligan—not bright enough to pass any government-administered proficiency test, but possesses a heart of gold.
Den mother Flo appears to be inspired by three early- to mid-fifties show cars: the 1951 Buick LeSabre (front-end lines, the basic hood shape, lights mounted near the corners, and front-quarter trim), the 1951 Buick XP-300 (side trim), and the 1956/57 Chrysler Dart (cockpit, deck lid, and tailfins). Flo is played by Jenifer Lewis who is often cast as an African-American mother figure.
Ramone is voiced by Cheech Marin. He is a lowrider; a creation popular among Latinos. He is Pixar's first Latino character.
Luigi is a Fiat 500 with an Italian accent provided by Tony Shalhoub. Shalhoub uses the same accent he used for the lead character, Primo, in the 1996 film Big Night. By coincidence, the Fiat 500 is the same kind of car used by Lupin III, the protagonist of the Lupin III series and movies. Hayao Miyazaki, a good friend of John Lasseter, worked on two of the Lupin TV series and directed the Lupin III movie The Castle of Cagliostro. Lasseter said in an interview he did not intend for the reference to be there, although Cagliostro is still one of his favorite films. 
Mario Andretti voices a 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 stock car, painted blue and gold with the number #11. Mario Andretti won the 1967 Daytona 500 with a car of the same appearance prepared by Holman-Moody.
Three of The Delinquent Road Hazards (minus Snot Rod) are Japanese imports; Mia and Tia are Mazda Miatas, and their names are a pun on Miata. Frank's predominent color, orange, is the color of Japanese tractor maker Kubota. While there is a Japanese woman on the world news, Asian Week("Steamed at Cars") notes that there are no Asian American cast voices, prominent or otherwise.
The rules in the Piston Cup shown in the movie that differs with NASCAR include:
- In the movie, the point lead tie is settled by an extra race. In NASCAR, the situation is settled by whoever has more wins. If the drivers have the same number of wins, it'll be decided by 2nd-place finishes and so on.
- In the movie, Lightning McQueen appears to speed out of pit road to beat the pace car, and stay on the lead lap. In NASCAR, a driver would be penalized a lap for doing that.
- In the movie, when Chick Hicks crashed "The King" Strip Weathers, he still won the race, and the championship. In NASCAR (unless there is not enough proof that a driver intentionally tried to do something), a driver would almost certainly be denied the checkered flag, and the finishing position that the driver finished in.
- In the movie, Lightning McQueen pushes the wrecked Weathers across the finish line. In NASCAR, both drivers would be penalized for doing so in that situation (as in NASCAR, the race would be finished under the yellow flag, and under NASCAR rules, no driver can push a car in the last lap of the race if the yellow flag is out). However, it is reasonable that the symbollic gesture would be interpreted as such by NASCAR, as the last line in the rulebook reads "Except in Rare instances".
- Some cars in the film's first race have 3-digit numbers, while in NASCAR, 3 digit numbers may be registered for cars, but cars must sport a 1 or 2 digit number on their car. In the pre-modern era (pre-1972), it was somewhat common for some drivers to sport 3 digit numbers on their cars.
- In the first race, when McQueen blew his tires, the race still continued. However, in NASCAR, the race would be finished under the yellow flag, and McQueen would stay in the lead and win the Piston Cup (unless, he had made a pit stop, or had been too slow for the field)
- Modern NASCAR bodies must all have nearly the same shape, differentiated mainly by the painting of headlights and grille. The Piston Cup features cars based on various NASCAR racers since the 1970s.
The landscape in the distance behind Radiator Springs is made up of rock formations intentionally reminiscent of Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. The road map shown in the montage history of the town calls the area "Cadillac Range."
The Flo's V8 Cafe logo is similar to that used by the '32 Ford V8, the first V8 for mass marketed cars. This retro logo also appears on late model Ford Explorers (and other Ford trucks whose owners get the part and put it on their vehicles). Flathead also refers to this Ford V8, and was popular with hot rods. The neon spark plugs on the canopy flash in the right firing order.
The name of the Piston Cup racing series is a spoof of the Winston Cup, the premiere series in NASCAR (now known as the Nextel Cup).
The track that the opening race (Motor Speedway of the South) takes place on is actually based on and an enlarged version of the real life Bristol Motor Speedway. The track used for the Piston Cup Championship race is a clever knock-off of the Pasadena Rose Bowl as well as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the California Speedway, host to races in NASCAR and other racing series. The dome on top of the entrance to the track appears to be a replica of Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi's famous dome atop the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy.
The film features mostly American cars from the 1950s and 1960s, but also some Japanese tuner and American muscle cars from the 1970s, K's from the 1980s, and minivans and Miatas from the 90s.
At one point in the movie, when many places are shutting down in anticipation of a big race, a sign can be read for a brief moment that reads: "City of Emeryville - Closed." This is a reference to Emeryville, California, where the Pixar studio is located.
Many characters and places in the movie are directly inspired on real Route 66 places and people.
To quote the Pixar crew:
- "As we traveled on Route 66, we were privileged to visit many places and to meet a number of people who live and work alongside 'The Mother Road.' The following is a list of the places and people we wanted to honor by including their names in our 'Special Thanks' credits at the end of the film." 
The soundtrack had the classic blues piece "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66" twice, once by Chuck Berry and a new version recorded specifically for the film's credits performed by John Mayer.
References to previous Pixar movies
Many of the sponsors on the sides of the cars are references to past Pixar films or as puns on real-life automotive-related companies. Here's a brief list of them:
- The number "2319" visible on a racecar under "CDA" is a reference to "23-19," the code used by the Child Detection Agency in Monsters, Inc. when a sock was found clinging to a monster's fur.
- The tires on the racecars say in small print "Gamma Quadrant Sector 4," a reference to where Zurg hides from Toy Story 2.
- Lightning McQueen is equipped with Lightyear Buzzard tires, a parody of Goodyear Eagle Tires and a reference to Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story and Toy Story 2
- The King's sponsor is Dinoco, the gas station from Toy Story, which itself is a pun on Sunoco, the official fuel supplier for NASCAR, though the logo is closer to petroleum company Sinclair which features a dinosaur on its logo.
- Flo is similar to Al's car from Toy Story 2.
- Some of the racing cars in the teaser trailer have Toy Story 2 and A Bug's Life logos on the side as well as "JLP" for John Lasseter, the director, and CDA (Child Detection Agency from Monsters, Inc.).
- The birds from the Pixar short For the Birds can briefly be seen and heard on a telephone wire in the "Life is a Highway" sequence. (It is difficult to see since the screen passes them quickly.)
- The jackalope from Boundin' is depicted on the back of a motor home. Also, one of Fillmore's bumper stickers reads "I Brake for Jackalopes".
- Radiator Spring's founder Stanley is actually the same truck that's seen in the Pixar short Boundin'.
- The Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story with a rocket on the roof can be seen at the entrance to the stadium in the final race sequence.
- When Mack is driving by the truck stop, one of the trucks' logos is "i, Inc." This is a reference to The Incredibles (the "i" is Mr. Incredible's monogram).
- There is a motor home in the second Piston Cup race at the end and he is surrounded by flamingos and a pool in reference to the short Knick Knack.
- The railway train's number which almost crashed into Lightning McQueen when he was on his way to Radiator Springs is A113, a recurring inside joke in several animated shows and films, referring to the classroom number used by animation students at CalArts. Mater's license plate has the same number.
- During the end credits, scenes from previous Pixar films are re-enacted with cars. There is a scene from Toy Car Story featuring Tom Hanks (as a Ford Woodie) and Tim Allen. Also, John Ratzenberger comes up on the window sill as Hamm. There is one from Monster Trucks, Inc. featuring John Goodman and Billy Crystal, also John Ratzenberger comes up as the Abominable Snowplow. Finally, there is one from A Bug's Life featuring Dave Foley, also John Ratzenberger comes up as P.T. flea. John Ratzenberger is featured in all three scenes, and his Cars character Mack (John Ratzenberger again) comments on the recurrence, from supportive at first to disgust and says "They're just using the same actor over and over again! What kind of cut-rate production is this?". The only Pixar films who were never given parodies to themselves during the credits of the film were Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.
- The opening music in the original teaser trailer is from A Bug's Life.
- A highway sign in the interstate sequence reads "Andy's House", a reference to the child from Toy Story.
- Lightning McQueen's number, 95 is a reference to the year Toy Story came out.
References to other movies
- In the teaser trailer to Cars, a little bee is seen flying around, a possible reference to Wally B. (Note that the presence of organic insects renders this teaser noncanonical. In the movie itself, there are no organic insects or animals of any kind; all insects are tiny Volkswagen Beetles with wings.)
- The flashback narrative of the final race scene along with the fact McQueen stops just before the finish line is a reference to the 1962 Tony Richardson movie The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.
- The action film that Lightning envisions himself starring in is similar to War of the Worlds.
- The scene where Lightning almost gets hit by a train is a reference to The Fast And The Furious, also the scene with the three Import Scene cars surrounding Mack.
- The scene where Lightning leaves Radiator Springs in Mack and all press go with him, leaving Sally alone, is a reference to Notting Hill.
- When Mater jumps out of forest and over a moon back into a forest during the backwards driving sequence, it is a reference to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- The scene where Lightning brakes and causes Chick to brush the wall is a reference to Herbie: Fully Loaded, where Maggie Peyton did the same thing to Trip Murphy (only it turned into a bigger wreck). It is also a reference to Days of Thunder when Cole Trickle did the same to his oppenent during the final race.
- The scene where Mater removes "the boot" (restraining shackle) on Lightning and Lightning makes a run for it, you hear Lightning scream out "Freedom!" in the distance. This is a reference to Braveheart, where Mel Gibson shouts "Freedom" just before he is executed.
- In the initial race scene, a car features a logo implying sponsorship by Apple Computer (Steve Jobs's "other company") . The car carries number 84, referring to the original Apple Macintosh's initial release in 1984.
- After the first race, when Lighting McQueen is talking to his sponsors, and is told to say a few words, during this the lights turn off and a spotlight aim to Lighting, in the backgrounds you can hear someone yelling "Freebird", a song from Lynyrd Skynyrd, commonly shouted out as a request at nearly any rock concert.
- In the scene just before the Los Angeles race depicting the shutdown of California for that race, a sign reading "City of Emeryville" is marked as closed. Emeryville is where Pixar's studios are based.
- When you see Flo's licence plate it says "SHO GRL" which must stand for what type of car she is and that it is flashy.
- In Finding Nemo when it shows the fish escaping at the end, it shows Luigi pass by. But many cnofuse it being on the escape plan scene. But Luigi appears complete with eyes.
- The scene when a car turned onto its nose during "The Big One" could have been modeled after Robert Pressley's crash in the 1997 Daytona 500.
- The King's (voice: Richard Petty) crash at the end of the final race mirrors frame-by-frame Petty's crash in the 1988 Daytona 500
- Luigi's hood ornament resembles a mustache.
- Sheriff appears to have curb finders since he has white wall tires.
- Sheriff's curb finders seem to resemble whiskers.
- Even though Dinoco, The King's sponsor, features a dinosaur on its logo, it's doubtful whether dinosaurs actually existed in the Cars world. The same goes for the Ferrari logo which features a horse.
- Doc Hudson has white wall tires but no curb finders.
- The brand of white wall tires Lightning McQueen buys at Luigi's is called "Fettucini Alfredo," a popular Italian pasta dish.
- Flo's headlights resemble dimples on her cheeks.
- During the "Big Race" scene, announcer Darrell Cartrip is heard to very enthusiastically yell, "Boogity Boogity Boogity!", which racer and commentator Darrell Waltrip (who plays Cartrip) yells at the beginning of every race he is providing commentary for.
- Mack appears to be wearing a cap, common of truckers like Mack himself
- The two grilles that Ramone has above his lights and at the end of his hood are supposed to resemble a latino mustache
- The character of Lightning McQueen was used in some theaters during the preview show. Specifically, he would be leading the pack of race cars, until a cell phone ring is heard. At that point he spins out into the infield area and the "super" appears, "Please Turn Off Your Cell Phones."
- If the time scale is correct, Sally must be four years old, as she is a 2002 911 996.
- In the teaser trailer, the car waving the chequered flag is Luigi minus his vinyl roof
- Even though Red is supposed to be silent, when Lightning is found in Radiator Springs, and he is backing into his trailer, Red can be seen in the far background by Casa Della Tires, talking to the press.
- Boxoffice Mojo Profile for Cars
- Cars Production Information
- Cars review by Roger Ebert at rogerebert.com
- "Young and Fuelish" by Stephen Hunter, Washington Post, June 9, 2006 (free registration required)
- "'Cars' Is a Drive Down a Lonely Highway" by Manohla Dargis, The New York Times June 9, 2006 (free registration required)
- "Pixar's automotive tale drives a lot like 'Doc Hollywood'" by Christy Lemire, Associated Press, June 9, 2006
- Cars review by Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly, June 7, 2006
- RottenTomatoes Cars rating
- "Truly Moving Picture" award page for Cars, created June 8, 2006
- "Cars" director John Lasseter wins Will Rogers Award, June 24, 2006
- Boxoffice Mojo Profile for Cars
- Boxoffice Mojo Weekend Earnings for Cars
- "Pixar Mastermind John Lasseter" by Edward Douglas, June 3, 2006
- "Exclusive: Larry the Cable Guy " by Edward Douglas, June 5, 2006
- "A grease geek will guide you: 'Cars' decoded" by Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2006
- "New movie rekindles love affair with cars" by Ann Job, The Star-Ledger, May 7, 2006, reprinted for MSN Autos
- " Disney Shows Muscle with Boys Properties" press release at Disney Consumer Products, June 22, 2006
- " Pixar's Cars - Opel" hot site of the campaing
- "Hudson Hornet" by Jack Nerad, Driving Today, June 5, 2000
- "NASCAR champ Hudson Hornet now star of film" by Dan Jedlicka, Chicago Sun-Times, June 12, 2006
- "Speedway guy gains fame at Pixar" by Joe Marusak, The Charlotte Observer, March 9, 2006
- "Red Carpet interview with John Lasseter" by Michael Howe, Jim Hill Media, May 29, 2006
- Pixar’s Route 66 inspirations from Route 66 News
- Apple Sponsors in the Piston Cup Circuit from FreeMacBlog.com