A Non-NASCAR Fans Guide To The Cars Movies

Over the Fourth of July weekend, my family and I celebrated the same way we have for years, by going to the NASCAR Race in Daytona. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero 400 is always the highlight of my summer. Some of the series’ young and rising stars ran up front most of the night. You may not know them by their actual names, but you might know them by their Cars 3 names.

The Cars franchise has incorporated numerous NASCAR and racing references into their movies, something that makes fans like me very happy. Here is a list of some of the NASCAR “Easter Eggs” in all 3 Cars movies.


  • LightYear Tires – Clearly a nod to the beloved Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear, the name of the tires used by the vehicles also fits as a reference to GoodYear, the tires used by NASCAR.
  • Strip “Mr. The King” Weathers – It doesn’t take a diehard NASCAR fan to figure this one out. Strip, or Mr. The King, is voiced by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty. Petty is often referred to as The King because of his 7 championships (tied all time) and 200 victories (most all time. Second most victories in NASCAR history is David Pearson with 105. Yeah, he’s The King alright). His car is also Petty blue in the movie with the number 43, both are notorious with the Petty name.
  • Mrs. The King – Voiced by Richard Petty’s wife, Lynda Petty, Mrs. The King was modeled after a 1974 Chrysler Town and Country station wagon. The Petty’s used to drive one of these cars. Sadly, Linda passed away in 2014.
  • The Piston Cup – Yes, pistons are part of a car’s engine, but the Piston Cup also rhymes with the Winston Cup. Winston (the cigarette company) was the title sponsor of the highest series in NASCAR until 2003. Monster Energy is the current title sponsor.
  • Doc Hudson – Old school NASCAR fans were beyond pleasantly surprised when the character Doc Hudson came on screen. Doc is a reference so the historic Fabulous Hudson Hornet driven by Marshall Teague and Herb Thomas during the early days of NASCAR. The car was so fast, Teague and his team won 27 out of 34 races over the course of three years. In fact, Lightning McQueen said in the movie that Doc won 27 races in a single season, a reference to that winning streak. And of course, Doc was voiced by the famous Paul Newman, a racing fan himself. Newman passed away in 2008.
  • Darrell Cartrip – Darrell Cartrip is voiced by Darrell Waltrip. Waltrip is a NASCAR Hall of Famer with 84 victories in the series and 3 championships. He currently commentates races for NASCAR on Fox which makes sense as Cartrip is a Piston Cup commentator. Cartrip is number 17 and Waltrip drove that number for many years. DW, as he is commonly called, says “Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing drivers!” at the start of each race.
  • Junior – NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award has gone to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for 14 years! No wonder he’s in Cars! At the time, Dale Jr. drove the 8 car and was sponsored by Budweiser, hence the red car of his character and the number 8. After 19 seasons in the Cup Series, Dale Jr. is retiring after this year.
  • Mario Andretti – Mario makes a quick cameo in Cars. He is voiced by famous NASCAR and Formula One driver, Mario Andretti (obviously).
  • Tex Dinoco – Famous NASCAR track owner Humpy Wheeler voices the owner of the Dinoco team.

Cars 2

Cars 2 mostly focused on Mater, although there was quite a bit of racing in the film. The majority of the racing references are to Formula 1 or La Mans racing, so not too many NASCAR things to talk about here.

  • Jeff Gorvette – No question, Jeff Gorvette is based on Jeff Gordon. His number in the movie is 24, the same number Jeff Gordon drove in NASCAR for over two decades. He retired after the 2015 season. Gordon has 93 wins and holds 4 championships. Fun fact: current Indycar and former NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya voiced Jeff Gorvette in the Latin American version of the movie.

Cars 3

Cars 3 focused the attention back on Lightning’s racing career back here in the States, and with it came so many references and new characters from the NASCAR world.

  • Ryan “Inside” Laney – Ryan “Inside” Laney is modeled after and voiced by rising star Ryan Blaney, who got his first Cup Series win a few weeks ago at Pocono. I’m a bit biased here because I’m quite the Blaney fan. In fact, I was able to interview him for TMSM about his love of Star Wars.
  • Chase Racelott – Chase Elliott voiced this character. Chase is another one of those young drivers taking the series by storm. His father is NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill “Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” Elliott.
  • Danny Swervez – Rookie Daniel Suarez voices this character. Suarez is from Monterrey, Mexico.
  • Bubba Wheelhouse – Driver Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. voices Bubba Wheelhouse. Wallace has 5 wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and has a very promising NASCAR future ahead of him.
  • Shannon Spokes – NASCAR reporter Shannon Spakes makes an appearance as Shannon Spokes.
  • Cal Weathers – Kyle Petty, Richard’s son, voices Cal Weathers. Cal is Strip Weathers’ nephew in the movie.
  • Mike Joyride – Another NASCAR on Fox commentator voices a character in the franchise; Mike Joy plays Mike Joyride, radio talk show host.
  • Ray Reverham – Hall of Fame crew chief Ray Evernham plays Jackson Storm’s crew chief. Evernham was Jeff Gordon’s crew chief for many years.
  • Fireball Beach – This is most likely named after famous driver Fireball Roberts. Roberts was one of the first drivers to gain fame during NASCAR’s early days, which as it so happened, involved racing on Daytona Beach.
  • Thunder Hallow – Perhaps this is a nod to Bristol Motor Speedway’s nickname “Thunder Valley?”
    Smokey and the “Best Dang Garage in Town” – The character Smokey’s (named after famous NASCAR mechanic Smokey Yunick) garage is featured on a billboard with this phrase. This is a reference to Yunick’s autobiography “Best Damn Garage in Town.”
  • River Scott – River Scott was modeled after Wendell Scott, the first African American to win a NASCAR race (1963).
  • Junior “Midnight” Moon – NASCAR pioneer, Junior Johnson, was not only the inspiration for this character, but he also voiced Moon. And that last name, Moon, is clearly a nod to moonshine. Junior Johnson made and sold moonshine. In fact, NASCAR’s roots come directly from moonshine runners, but that’s another story.
  • Louise Nash – Louise Nash is modeled after the “First Lady of Racing” Louise Smith. Smith won 38 races in various lower level racing series.
  • Jocko Flocko – Well, this is one obscure reference. NASCAR driver from the 1950s Tim Flock had, sort of, a pet monkey ride around with him in the racecar. The mascot’s name was Jocko Flocko. In Cars 3, Lightning and Mac go undercover, and Mac’s disguised as a trailer for Jocko Flock’s Party Supplies. All I’ll say is oh wow did Pixar do their research for that one!

Overall, NASCAR fans love watching the Cars movies to see how many references to their beloved sport they can find. The newest addition to the series did a great job of respecting the history of NASCAR while shining a light on its newest stars.

Did I miss some references? I’m sure I did. Leave a comment below with the racing or NASCAR references you caught in one of the Cars movies.

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Susie Bryan

Susie Bryan has been a Disney fan since her family started going to Fort Wilderness on a regular basis when she was in third grade. Since then, her love for all things Disney has become a major part of her life. Susie has been a Main Streeter since 2015 when she worked for TMSM for her college internship. She currently works at a marketing agency and loves her job. She wants to live every day by her favorite Walt Disney quote, “All of our dreams will come true, if we have the courage to pursue them,” and her favorite Star Wars quote from R2-D2, “Beep, beep, boop, bop beep.”

Susie Bryan has 24 posts and counting. See all posts by Susie Bryan

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