Cars: Pixar’s Magnum Opus

Lightning McQueen competes for the Piston Cup alongside The King and Chick Hicks.

Courtesy Photo

Lightning McQueen competes for the Piston Cup alongside The King and Chick Hicks.

Tyson Head, Editor

Cars released in 2006 and completely revolutionized movies as we know them.

Cars stars the hotshot racer Lightning McQueen in the first season of his career.e isn’t an ordinary racer, he’s a sentient car. In fact, every person in this universe is a sentient vehicle of some sort. McQueen has stark competition in the form of Strip “The King” Weathers (Richard Petty) and his runner up, Chick Hicks (Michael Keaton). Despite this being his first season, McQueen has found himself in the run for the Piston Cup championship. What this movie does best is pay tribute to and acknowledge the complicated world of Automobile racing, and cars in general. For example: The King is a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, a heavily modified alteration of the Plymouth Roadrunner, which looks exactly as Richard Petty’s did in real life. While Chick Hicks is a 1985 Buick Grand National, and Lightning McQueen is an amalgamation of multiple models of the Chevrolet Corvette.

Everyone knows that one of these three is bound to take home the Piston Cup this season. With this being The King’s last season, he seems to be the rightful winner. McQueen takes a gamble and skips a tire change in hopes to maintain his lead, which leads to all four of his tires popping, costing him the championship. As McQueen inches his way to the finish, The King and Hicks roar their way up behind him. Miraculously, it’s a three-way tie between McQueen, Weathers, and Hicks. The race is rescheduled to be held halfway across the country, moving from Nashville to Los Angeles. McQueen plans to be the first one there. He figures since its the King’s last season, Dinoco is considering a new racer to sponsor. McQueen is so driven to be the first one there that he decides to not let his driver, Mac, stop for a nap at the rest stop.

Mac’s sleepy state is taken advantage of, as four tuner cars roll up. The tuner cars being four ruffians led by Boost, consisting of DJ, Wingo, and Snot Rod. DJ plays slow jazz music, leading to Mac sleepdriving and going offroad. McQueen is tossed out from his trailer, leading to him speeding down a residential street and being locked up until morning. McQueen finds himself in Radiator Springs, the cutest little town in Carburetor County. He’s pulled into court for dragging a statue across the road, completely ruining the main street of the town. In the courtroom, Lightning meets Mater: a 1951 International Harvester, Sheriff: a 1949 Mercury Club Coupe, Ramone: a 1951 Impala Lowrider, Flo: a 1951 Buick XP-300, Sarge: a 1942 Willy’s Army Jeep, Luigi: a 1959 Fiat 500, Guido: an Alza Tutto Forklift, Lizzie: a 1923 Ford Model T, and Sally: a 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera. The final car who makes his introduction is Doc, the town’s mayor, doctor, and judge: a 1959 Hudson Hornet.

McQueen’s sentence is community service, spending his time repaving the street he ruined with Besse: the local road paving machine. By this point, McQueen is well past late for his due time in Los Angeles. In his offtime, McQueen stumbles upon Doc’s shack, packed full of three piston cups. Doc isn’t just a Hudson Hornet, he’s The Fabulous Hudson Hornet, the one-time best racer in the world who had a horrifying crash that ended his career before his time. After McQueen finishes repaving the road, he launches an effort to restore the town to its former glory. This includes reinstalling neon signs and getting a new paint job himself. But McQueen has a race to get to. Doc, the bitter old hornet, has tipped off the press, leading to the town being raided by paparazzi, looking for the Rookie Racer. Lightning is rushed to the Los Angeles Speedway just in time for the race. McQueen can’t stop thinking about the people he misses back in Radiator Springs, he is doing poorly in the most important race of his career.

Until some of the crew from Radiator Springs show up, with Doc as his pit crew coach. Lightning manages to pull through and is just seconds from taking home the piston cup before Chick Hicks has enough. “I am not coming in behind you again old man,” said Hicks as he swept The King’s back wheel, causing the legendary racer to do a whopping 23 flips into the grass, completely destroying him. This is based on the real life accident which happened to Richard Petty, though this time McQueen is there. He comes to a complete stop, near inches from the finish line. He goes back and pushes The King across the finish line saying, “I figure the king should finish his last race.” Coming full circle for the racer who would risk his own life to win the race in the beginning of the movie, who now loses the entire race to save another racer, out of respect.