This was Paul Newman's last feature film before his death of lung cancer in 2008. It turned out to be the highest-grossing movie of his career. George Carlin died of heart failure three months earlier. This was the highest-grossing film of his career as well.
The production wanted to use a little-known version of the song "Route 66" by Chuck Berry, which had appeared on the B-side of one of his singles. They approached Berry's record company, who didn't know anything about such a version. It was only after they had trawled through their record vaults, that they realized that Pixar was right.
The Rust-eze brothers are played by real-life brothers Tom Magliozzi and Ray Magliozzi. They are the hosts of Car Talk, a Radio Hall of Fame show, and they use the "Don't drive like my brother!" catchphrase to close the show.
Even with a farm of computers that ran four times faster than the ones used for The Incredibles (2004), and 1,000 times faster than the ones used for Toy Story (1995), each frame of this movie took an average of 17 processor hours to render.
Instead of making the cars' headlights the eyes, as is done in most cartoons, the Pixar animators decided to put the eyes up on the windshield, because that made the characters more expressive. This idea was largely influenced by the Disney cartoon Susie the Little Blue Coupe (1952), one of Writer and Director John Lasseter's favorites.
The last Pixar film worked on by Joe Ranft, who died in a car crash in 2005. The film is dedicated to his memory, as are Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005) and Sony Animation's first film Open Season (2006), where he designed characters on that film. It also marks the final Pixar film to have a character voiced by him. Joe's brother, Jerome Ranft, would later take over as the voice of Red, in one of the Cars Toons shorts and Cars 3 (2017) as well as Jacques from Finding Nemo (2003) as the character appears in Finding Dory (2016), and later have a role in Up (2009).
The Doc Hudson character is based on real-life NASCAR pioneer Herb Thomas, who drove Hudson Hornets to Grand National championships in 1951 and 1953. He was beaten out for the title in 1954 by Lee Petty, father of Richard Petty ("The King"). Crashes in 1955 and 1956 effectively ended Thomas' career.
At the end of the first race at the start of the movie, the twins Mia and Tia flash their headlights at McQueen. This is a sly wink to adult racing fans, who know that "flashing their headlights" is the term for when female fans lift their shirts and show their breasts to the racers.
At one hour and fifty-seven minutes, this was the longest Pixar movie to until Incredibles 2 (2018) surpassed it by a minute. Although, without the credits, Incredibles 2 is 1h and 49 min, while Cars is 1h and 52 min (including credits scenes) without the regular credits.
The Michael Schumacher Ferrari, voiced by Michael Schumacher, speaks Italian to Guido, saying, "Spero che il tuo amico si riprenda. Mi dicono che siete fantastici." This translates to "I hope your friend recovers. I was told that you are fantastic."
Doc Hudson's dismissal by the racing community in 1955 has some basis in history. Hudson Hornets were a popular and successful choice for stock car racing in the early 1950s, due to their low center of gravity, which gave them excellent stability on the dirt tracks used at the time. However, Hudson used older flat head technology in their engines, and by 1955, GM, Ford, and Chrysler had all developed more powerful overhead valve V8 engines. Consequently, Hudsons were no longer considered competitive.
The voice of Lightning McQueen's agent Harv is provided by Jeremy Piven, who also plays Vincent Chase's agent on Entourage (2004). The UK release featured the outspoken Top Gear (1978) host Jeremy Clarkson as the voice of Harv.
PIXAR STUDIO TRADEMARK: (A113) The train that Lightning outruns, is numbered A113 after an animation room at California Institute of the Arts, where many Pixar animators studied. Mater's license plate has the same number.
Every now and then, Lightning McQueen's tongue pops out when he's thinking about something. This is a characteristic of Writer and Director John Lasseter, which his animators gleefully incorporated into the film.
During the end credits, car versions of characters in the films Toy Story (1995), Monsters, Inc. (2001), and A Bug's Life (1998) are shown at the drive-in cinema. There, Mack notes the car versions of the characters that were voiced by John Ratzenberger (Hamm, the Yeti, and P.T. Flea) in those respective films, giving his impressions that whoever voices them is "one great actor", until realizing they used the same actor in all the movies stating "What kind of a cut-rate production is this?" (he too was unassumingly voiced by Ratzenberger as well). In addition, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Dave Foley were all brought back to reprise their roles as the car versions of their respective characters. Originally there were going to be two more cameos; one from The Incredibles (2004) and one from Finding Nemo (2003). In the cameo from The Incredibles Craig T Nelson and Holly Hunter would have reprised their roles as Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl as cars, and John Ratzenberger would have reprised his role as The Underminer as a drill tank. In the Finding Nemo cameo Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres would have reprised their roles as Marlin and Dory as submarines and John Ratzenberger would have reprised his school of moonfish role as submarines. Additionally the cameo from The Incredibles would be set between the cameo from Toy Story and the cameo from Monsters Inc. and the cameo from Finding Nemo would have been set between the cameo from Monsters Inc. and the cameo from A Bug's Life.
Every time Bessie the road pavement machine spits on the cars pulling it (twice in the movie, once during the end credits), she makes laughing sounds, indicating that she may possess some limited intelligence, despite having no visible eyes.
The fictional town of Radiator Springs was inspired by several real-life locations along historic Route 66. In 2001, a creative team from Pixar, including John Lasseter and Joe Ranft, toured parts of Route 66 in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Their guide along the way was author and Route 66 historian Michael Wallis. Wallis provided the voice of the Sheriff in the film.
When Lightning McQueen finally gets pulled over by the Sheriff after destroying the road, the Sheriff says, "Boy, you're in a heap o' trouble", the signature line from Dodge commercials featuring Joe Higgins as the Sheriff, which aired in the early 1970s.
Lightning McQueen's original number was to be 57, John Lasseter's birth year. It was later changed to 95 to represent the year that Toy Story (1995) was released. The car in the final film, who has the number 57 (who wins the race in the first teaser), vaguely resembles McQueen.
Designs of the cars: Chick Hicks is based on a 1987 Buick Grand National NASCAR racer. The King is a 1970 Plymouth Superbird, one of Richard "The King" Petty's most famous rides. The Superbird was created to get him back into a Plymouth for the 1970 racing season, and Petty provided the voice. The King's paint scheme is exactly as King Richard's was in the 1970 NASCAR season. Mrs. "The King" is a 1974 Chrysler Town and Country station wagon, modelled after the car in which the Pettys drove themselves and their children to the races during the 1970s. Mack is based on a Mack Superliner semi-truck. The character of Mack was originally going to be a Peterbilt, but was changed, because John Ratzenberger's father drove a Mack in Chicago. This is referenced during the scene where Lightning exits onto Route 66 trying to catch up to Mack: the battery truck he mistakenly follows says "I ain't no Mack, I'm a Peterbilt!" Mia and Tia are modelled after the first-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata. Dusty Rust-eze is a 1960s Dodge A100 van, his brother Rusty is a 1963 Dodge Dart. The cars that run a sleepy Mac off the road, and are later caught speeding, are collectively called the Delinquent Road Hazards. Each parodies a different modification style. "Wingo", a 1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, exemplifies flashy non-performance additions, often called "ricing". "Boost", a 1996 Nissan 240/200SX S14A, is a nitrous oxide street racer. "D.J.", a 2004 Scion xB, is a mobile audio platform. "Snot Rod", a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, is a classic supercharged muscle car (the graphics and grill badge are changed to S/R in the film). Sheriff is a 1949 Mercury Club Coupe. Doc is a 1951 Hudson Hornet two-door coupe. Fillmore is a late 1960s Volkswagen Type 2, otherwise known as the Transporter, or "Microbus". It was a very popular vehicle among hippies in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and even made its way into popular culture. It is heavily referenced in the Arlo Guthrie song "Alice's Restaurant Massacree". Sarge is a 1940s Willys MB Jeep. Ramone is a 1959 Chevrolet Impala, a very popular car with the low riders. Luigi is a 1959 Fiat 500. Mater is a 1955 Chevrolet Stepside tow truck. Sally is a 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera (Type 996). Flo isn't based on any single car, but shares elements of the 1951 Buick LeSabre, the 1951 Buick XP-300, and the 1957 Chrysler Dart, all actual show cars. Her appearance closely resembles Al's vehicle in Toy Story 2 (1999). In the montage after McQueen goes missing, Jay Limo is a third-generation Lincoln Town Car, Sven (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a Hummer H1, Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) is based on a Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS NASCAR racer, as driven by Earnhardt between 1999 and 2007. The car used for Mario Andretti's cameo, is the Holman-Moody Ford Fairlane Andretti drove to victory in the 1967 Daytona 500, a race in which Richard Petty was one of the favorites to win. Petty dropped out of the race due to a blown engine. -Michael Schumacher is a Ferrari F430.
The Cozy Cone Motel's design is based on the two Wigwam Motels along Route 66, in Holbrook, Arizona and Rialto, California. These were once two out of seven motels, with individual cabins shaped like tepees. Another motel from the chain survives in Cave City, Kentucky. The name "Cozy Cone" was inspired by the Cozy Dog Drive-In of Springfield, Illinois, which lays claim to being birthplace of the corn dog.
Fillmore is named after the famous Fillmore Auditorium or Fillmore West, a highly popular music venue from the 1960s and 1970s. It was the focal point of music and arts for the counterculture, or "hippie" movement.
Fillmore, the Volkswagen Microbus voiced by George Carlin, has license plate "51237". This is Carlin's birth date; May 12, 1937. It's entirely coincidental, but 51237 is also the ZIP code for George, Iowa.
The tires of Lightning McQueen are Buzzard models manufactured by Lightyear, a reference both to the real Goodyear "Eagle" tires used in NASCAR, and the character Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story franchise. A Lightyear Blimp, spoofing the real-life Goodyear Blimp, even appears at the races.
We never see the insides of any vehicle in the movie (except for a cargo compartment of the helicopter in the end, but not its cockpit). Their "windows" are always opaque, and their "doors" never open. In particular, there isn't a single convertible with an open roof in sight. This fits well with the concept of a world without humans, since living cars don't need passenger compartments. For all we know, they aren't even hollow.
When Lightning McQueen is about to give a promotional speech at the Rust-eze tent, there is a momentary silence, and then someone yells: "Free Bird!" This is a reference to the song "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It is said that these words are shouted frequently at music shows as a form of a popular cliché.
The mountain range behind Radiator Springs resembles the Cadillac Ranch. This is an installation of a row of half-buried, nose-down Cadillacs, near Amarillo, Texas. The map refers to the Cadillac Range.
Writer and Director John Lasseter hatched the idea for this movie while taking a cross-country trip on Route 66 with his wife and five sons in 2000, mainly at the behest of his wife, who felt he was spending too much time at the studios. Nancy Lasseter, wife of John Lasseter, told her husband that he needed to make this film for all the people, largely women, who don't care about cars. Hence, the film's nickname during production was The Nancy Factor. Upon returning to work, he contacted Michael Wallis, a famous historian on the subject. Wallis then took eleven Pixar animators in rented white Cadilllacs on two different road trips across the route to research the film. The animators picked up artifacts en route; such items as wheat, thistles, snake skin, and road kill. All of these items were attached to the cars as hood ornaments, and then ceremoniously buried in the desert at the end of the trip.
The movie was conceived in 1999. It was originally going to be called, "The Little Yellow Car", and was going to be about an electric car living in a gas guzzling world and the staff of Pixar even agreed that the film would be next after A Bug's Life (1998). However, the project was abandoned when Pixar wanted to work on Toy Story 2 (1999).
The D.O.T. regulations that Mack begins to quote to Lightning McQueen require drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles to stop driving after reaching the end of their fourteenth consecutive hour after first coming on-duty. The fourteen-hour limit was specifically designed to reduce fatigue-related accidents on the nation's highways.
Unusually for a Pixar film, the lead marketing focused on the voice talent, namely Owen Wilson and Paul Newman. Unlike other animation companies, Pixar tends not to draw attention to which stars are providing the voices.
Ramone's comment about "Von Dutch style" pin-striping to Minnie and Van is a reference to Kenny Howard, the man who revived the art of pin-striping on motorcycles and vehicles in the 1950s under the name Von Dutch.
Even though the #43 car is a clear reference to Richard Petty, even down to using Petty's nickname of "The King" and having Petty provide the voice, the name actually given to the car character, is "Strip Weathers". It is only used once, during the opening scenes of the film, when the television commentators ("Bob Cutlass" and "Darrell Cartrip") are discussing the three-way tie leading into the last race of the season.
During the final race, Guido (Guido Quaroni) says in Italian to Chick Hicks' crew: "Con chi credi parlare? Ma con chi stai parlando". This means: "Who do you think you're talking to? Who are you talking to?"
The design of "Los Angeles International Speedway" is based on three venues located in southern California. The outer façade is similar to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the speedway's seating bowl and interior architecture is much like the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and the track layout is reminiscent of California Speedway in Fontana.
The Italian dubber for Luigi is Marco Della Noce, a stand-up comedian. His performance in this movie is loosely based on one of his routines, a Team Ferrari mechanic. Also, since Guido speaks Italian throughout the movie, the effect was rendered in the Italian version by having him speak in a thick Modena accent (Modena is the home of Ferrari).
In the Rust-eze commercial following the first race, the green car in the background has a license plate number of "EVILLE". This is short for Emeryville, the town in California where Pixar is headquartered. Also, among the cities closed for race day is the city of Emeryville, California.
The two tourist minivans mention a trip to Shakopee to go to Crazy Days. Shakopee is a real city in Minnesota famous for the amusement park Valley Fair, and the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. The term "Crazy Days" is commonly used in reference to sidewalk sales in the Midwest.
When leaving the track after the first race, Mack passes under road signs that point to the following cities: Bell Housing, Spark Gap, East Honkers, Ragtop, Skid Mark Ln, Truckville, Wingnut City, Kingpin, and Pothole City.
When Mater and Lightning McQueen tip over the cow tractors, as the tractors are upended, they give off an electronic "Moo!" sound. The electronic "Moo!" is taken from Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow, a Kenner toy introduced in 1978. Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow would raise her head and give off an electronic "Moo!" sound when you moved her tail like a pump handle.
The character "Fillmore" was at one time to be named "Waldmire" after Bob Waldmire, a self-proclaimed hippie artist known to Route 66 fans for his detailed pen-and-ink maps and postcards of the route. Though Waldmire's family owns the Cozy Dog Drive-In in Springfield, Illinois, Bob, now a vegan, preferred not have his name put on a character that would become a Happy Meal toy.
The city, through which Mack is seen driving, after leaving the track, seems to be Nashville, Tennessee, considering most of the roads on the signs pass through Nashville. It's also probable Mack would drive through Nashville on Interstate 40 after leaving Bristol (on which M.S.S. is based).
The California Governor Hummer Humvee is an obvious caricature of then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was also the first private owner of a Hummer Humvee (High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle) in the U.S.
In the section of scenes where Mack is driving Lightning McQueen to California, a quick shot shows them passing some phone lines where you can briefly see and hear the birds from the Pixar short For the Birds (2000).
Radiator Springs' surrounding rock formations, shaped as recognizable hood ornaments from over the years, are labelled "Ornament Valley" on the road map. This is a reference to "Monument Valley", an expanse of grand, natural rock formations spanning Arizona and Utah, though not actually near Route 66.
One of the cars that lull Mack to sleep, featured the license plate "WINGO", and green shades over the windshield. The spoiler even looks somewhat like Dale Gribble's hat. "Wingo" was a catchphrase of Dale's in the FOX animated television show King of the Hill (1997).
To help promote Cars (2006), Pixar created a commercial for State Farm Insurance that featured the main character, "Lightning McQueen". They did the same for Cars 2 (2011) but this time they had Mater sing the first part of the jingle used in State Farm commercials that was written by a then-unknown Barry Manilow. Coincidentally, one of the characters living in "Radiator Springs" (where Lightning spends most of the movie) shares the same first name as that of State Farm's CEO, Ed Rust: Sally.
McQueen's purchasing night-vision goggles from Sarge's military-surplus store is due to his not having real headlights ("They're just stickers!"), enabling our hero to travel safely on dark roads and any other areas that are away from the well-lit racetracks.
Luigi's indicating that he wouldn't be so upset if the errant tractor ate a snow tire instead of a radial is a humorous reference to the fact that there is seldom any snow in the dry hot Route 66 area, and so there would probably have been little market for snow tires in that location.
The depiction and voice casting of Bob Costas was unusual, in the fact that NASCAR and Auto Racing is not an activity, with which he is associated, nor has ever called. In addition, Costas' work has been primarily with NBC Sports, who are direct competitors of ABC Sports and ESPN, whose parent company is Disney.
In the teaser trailer, the number 57 race car has a sign on his side that says "CDA 2319". This is a reference to the CDA from Monsters, Inc. (2001), and, one of the monsters in that film would a lot of times yell "2319".
In the scene where McQueen is pulling Bessie after crashing into the cactus for the second time, he is startled when Guido starts repairing the slow leak on his rear tire. If you watch carefully, you'll see Guido make a cheeky gesture with his eyes.
The Piston Cup commentators, Bob Cutlass and Darrell Cartrip, are based on and voiced by real sport commentators, Bob Costas and Darrell Waltrip respectively, whose names were "vehiclized" to create the corresponding characters (Cutlass is an Oldsmobile model).
One of the race cars sports an image of Jackalope from Boundin' (2003). The model and style of the car in this film was used on Stanley, the car who founded Radiator Springs and was honored in a statue, here.
All of the race cars' tires say "Lightyear", which is a reference to the company, Goodyear, and also a reference to Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story film franchise. Also, barely seen on the tires, it says, "Sector 4 Gamma Quadrant", which is Buzz's home.
With Joe Ranft having passed away on August 16th 2005 at the age of 45 due to a car crash, this film along with The Incredibles (2004) mark the only two films of Pixar's where he voices more than one character at a time in this film he voiced both Red and Jerry the Peterbilt and in The Incredibles (2004) he voiced both Universal Man and one of Syndrome's guards.
The sheriff's car is fitted with curb detectors. These were popular in the forties and fifties, as the springy devices would make a scraping sound when you were parking at the correct distance from the curb. They lost their popularity in the sixties as they were considered to be lame.
When the town is rejuvenated, the cars promenade down main street. Back in the day before cable TV, shopping malls, and the Internet, a popular social activity was for teens was to slowly cruise down main street (with such streets often being referred to as "the drag"). This was the central theme in the film American Graffiti (1973). By the 1970s and the appearance of custom low-riders, many of which had hydraulic lifts, this activity was revived among the Latino community, which was personified by the Latino car character in this film, who definitely had the coolest street car. It was the inspiration for the 1975 hit song Low Rider by the band War.
Lightning tells everyone at Flo's Cafe that Doc won three Piston Cups, although when Mater hears what Lightning said, he responds, "He did what in his cup?", making it sound like Lightning said "p****d".
Near the end of the film, the Sheriff arrests four cars for speeding. These are the same four cars that tried to lull Mack to sleep near the start of the movie. Mack's almost running off the road because of this, resulted in Lightning McQueen being lost.
Scenes from the movie were used in a 2008 road safety ad on U.S. television. Oddly, the last scene in the ad has been flipped, so that the word "Lightyear" on The King's tires appears backwards. This was done, because the scene takes place behind a curtain bearing the Piston Cup logo seen from behind, (reversed). Viewers seeing the scene out of context would have been more likely to notice the reversed Piston Cup on the curtain than the reversed Lightyear on the tires.
After the first race in the beginning of the film, Chick Hicks teases McQueen about the race being pretty good because of Chick Hicks himself. If you listen closely to one of his crew chiefs (while they are all laughing), he says the famous marketing "yell" at the end of all Sega Genesis television commercials during the late 80s.
The character Sally Carrera was inspired by Dawn Welch, owner of the Rock Café in Stroud, Oklahoma. Lassiter and his crew met Welch during one of his trips down Route 66, and the Rock Café has several pieces of memorabilia celebrating the movie's success.
The Rust-eze owners, Dusty and Rusty, were voiced by real-life brothers Ray (Dusty) and Tom Magliozzi (Rusty), otherwise known as "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers" from the comedy radio show "Car Talk". Tom appears as a 1963 Dodge Dart, which he owned for years and referenced on his show many times. In the film, they each admonished: "Don't drive like my brother", the catchphrase from the close of their radio show. Although Tom Magliozzi passed away in 2014, both brothers are still credited in Cars 3 (2017) as reprising their roles.
The plants seen in the background always have features that resemble something to do with cars: tree bark patterns have car shapes, leaves have tire-tread-like patterns or the Volkswagon logo in their veins, and flowers are shaped like different car parts.
The King is actually a character version of the race car of famous racer and voice actor for The King, Richard Petty. Also, The King crashes in the final race, this scene is the same part of real-life, where Richard crashed.
When Lizzie puts a bumper sticker on Van's rear. The bumper sticker says "Butte". The sticker is a reference to the sticker on Buzz's butt in Toy Story 2 (1999), when the sticker on Buzz's butt said "Butte".
There are three Emeryville Easter eggs in the movie. The first one is on a car's license plate. The license plate says "EVILLE", that is the abbreviation for Emeryville. The second one is at the final race in California. In California, there is a sign that says "City Of Emeryville", and the third and final Emeryville Easter egg is in the scene where the jets fly by in California. When the jets fly by, below them, the actual city of Emeryville, where Pixar Animation Studios shows up.
In the teaser trailer, when all the cars are racing, when the red one that has 57 as his number is being pushed by a green race car. You can see the logo for Toy Story 2 (1999) and A Bug's Life (1998) on his side.
First Pixar film to be nominated for Best Animated Feature without winning it since Monsters, Inc. (2001) Both were also nominated for Best Original Song, but while Monsters, Inc. (2001) won it, this movie lost it to An Inconvenient Truth (2006).
Every time the lyrics "Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino" are sung during the song Route 66, bumper stickers baring the respective names are shown in the corresponding order. The first time with Chuck Berry's version when Lizzie slaps them on Lightning's bumper when he is shopping at her Curios shop and the second time with John Mayer's version when Fred shows them off from right side, back, and left side during the end credits.
"Ornament Valley" is an obvious parody on the American Southwest's "Monument Valley" on the Arizona/Utah border, an area which has a similar "breathtakingly-lovely badlands" (semi-desert-and-high-plateaus) landscape with brilliant earth-tones and the whimsical shapes of the weather-eroded mesas.
The gas pumps at the Wheel Well Motel are painted red and blue, just like Sally and Lightning; it makes this place to which Sally has taken Lightning all the more special in a "romantic couple" way, as if the motel has "personalized" gas-pumps "just for him and her".
When Lightning tells Rusty and Dusty that he doesn't need headlights because the track is always lit, Rusty replies, "Yeah, well, so is my brother, but he still needs headlights!" This means that he is a drunk driver. When Lightning leaves, Rusty and Dusty both yell, "Don't drive like my brother!" This is another reference to drunk driving.
The King is a character version of the car of the famous racer and voice actor for The King, Richard Petty, and, when The King crashes in California, it is the same part of real-life when Richard crashed in a race.
This film features a song titled "Our Town", performed by James Taylor. In 2003, Paul Newman (Doc Hudson) appeared as the Stage Manager in a filmed performance of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, also titled "Our Town".
Dinoco (the sponsor for the race car, King, and the sponcer Lightning McQueen wants to win over) is also seen in Toy Story (1995). When Andy and his mom buy gas at a fuel station on their way to Pizza Planet, they fuel up at a station called Dinoco.
Mater's license plate is a reference to Pixar. First, the license plate is "A113", and at the top of his license plate, it says "Feb" on the left side, and "86" on the right side. This is a reference to when Pixar started in February 1986. And, their classroom number at Cal Arts was A113.
Is Pixar's second film to not release in November. June, the month, in which this movie released, would be the standard month, in which each Pixar film in the future would release, with the exceptions of Up (2009), The Good Dinosaur (2015), Coco (2017), and Onward (2020).
The Twins' popping up their "eyelid" headlights is a visual pun in several ways: (1) They're "flashing" McQueen by briefly revealing their illuminated headlights. (2) "The Twins" is a humorous terms for a lady's boobs. (3) "Headlights" is also a joking term for the same thing; "high beams" denotes larger-sized "endowments".
The rusty old car Fred, who appeared in the racing scenes, and in the closing credits sequence, was voiced by Andrew Stanton, a Writer and Director for Pixar. Stanton had been the co-Director of A Bug's Life (1998), and the main Director of Finding Nemo (2003), WALL-E (2008), and Finding Dory (2016).
Too bad Lightning didn't hear Harv's offer of "a bigger trailer", since this would likely have meant there'd have been enough room inside the trailer so that Sally could have come along with him to the race.
During the first time Lightning has to fix the main street road, and after Red the firetruck ignored him, Lighting gets upset and says: "I shouldn't have to put up with this! I'm a precision instrument of speed and aerodynamics!" Then Mater gets confused and asks, "You hurt your what?" He was probably referring to Lightning's crotch, as when Mater usually says "what" at the end or middle of asking a question, he usually is referring to anything inappropriate.
When Lightning drives in on Doc Hudson fixing the Sheriff, whose undercarriage is exposed, Lightning stares and then soon looks away in embarrassment, and the Sheriff says, "Get a good peek, city boy?"
Pixar's third film where the director or a co-director has a major role, not being simply listed in the additional voices, with Joe Ranft as Red, the other two were Finding Nemo (2003) and The Incredibles (2004).
Not only was the Pizza Planet Truck at the final race in California, but also when Mack was taking Lightning to California, and when he was about to go onto the highway, if you're not distracted by him, than you will see the Pizza Planet Truck pulling up to a Dinoco gas station. But, appearently, I do not think it was the same gas station from Toy Story (1995), because it did not look like that gas station. But if it appeared while Mack was driving McQueen in California, and it appeared at the final race in California, than maybe it was following Mack after going to the gas station.
The only Cars film to not release the same year as a theatrical Smurfs film by Sony Animation. Cars 2 (2011) released the same year as The Smurfs (2011), and Cars 3 (2017) released the same year as Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017).
In one of the short sequences during the end credits, a green Hummer says to Sarge at the SUV boot-camp: "Yo, I've never been off-road." This is a sarcastic reference to the tendency for Hummers, while designed as off-road vehicles, often to be purchased and used in pristine suburban surroundings.
Cars seen at the drive-in movie theater during the closing credits: left to right: front row - Mater, Sally, Lightning, Sarge, Fillmore; second row - one of the the Ferraris, Doc, Sheriff, Flo, Ramone, Guido, Luigi, and Lizzie; rows further back - Mack, Junior, Red, Mr. and Mrs. The King, and the Twins, and if you look closely, in the very back behind the fence, you see Frank and the tractors; note that more tractors appear each time they switch to an audience shot.
In June 2017, Entertainment Weekly reported that during the voice-actor recording process for this movie, Director John Lasseter spent a lot of time in the recording booth with Paul Newman, who often regaled him with stories about his life and his many years as a race car driver. Lasseter said, "In a way, he mentored me in racing, because car racing was his true life's passion, and I made sure that whenever he came into the recording booth, we were recording everything. In between takes, he would tell me stories about great races, and you could hear the passion in his voice." These recordings eventually became what made it possible for Newman's character in Cars, Doc Hudson, to reappear in Cars 3 (2017), even though that movie was released over eight years after Newman's death. Lasseter explained, "as we started Cars 3, we went back to every recording we did on Cars 1 and catalogued, and listened to it all, and ended up with a lot of material that we could use. Lines that were cut from the original film and never used, as well as some of those pieces from in-between takes."
This film draws a lot of parallels from Doc Hollywood (1991). A young hotshot has to be in a different city for an important event. They end up damaging a small town on the way, and are sentenced to community service to aid the town. They fall in love with a local, who wasn't originally from the small town. They fall in love with the town, and its people. Eventually they aid the town, head on to their destination, only to return back to the small town, and the woman they left behind.
After the credits, there is a short sequence showing the tourists Van and Minny still looking for the Interstate. A small blue car (fly) is flying beside them. It runs into the camera and leaves a blue "nose-print" on the lens. The car is modelled on a Volkswagen Beetle, also known as a "bug".
Chick Hicks' car number is 86. 86 is a slang for getting rid of someone in a forceful way, which is what the 86 car does when he cheats on the track. 86 is also a reference to the year of the release of Luxo, Jr. (1986), the first short film produced under the Pixar name.
The first and so far only Pixar film to use profanity up until Incredibles 2 (2018), as well as the only Pixar film with a G rating to do so. This does not include Toy Story (1995), where "son of a building block" was used which is actually a pun the same said for Toy Story 3 (2010) where the term used is "ascot".
Studio Trademark - (Self Improvement) Pixar's films have a recurring motif of self improvement. in this film, Lightning McQueen is arrogant and believes winning is the only thing. In the end, he realizes it's not and even helps another racing car in the Piston Cup cross the finish line despite it costing him the race.
The characters from A Bug's Life (1998) show up as cars in three scenes. First, they show up in the town while the Sheriff is chasing McQueen. Second, they show up when Sally shows McQueen the Wheel Well Motel. Finally, Flik shows up in a post-credits scene.
Apple products exist in the Cars universe. Because in this film, The King (Richard Petty) passes an Apple car, and that Apple car is number 84, because Apple was released in 1984, and also, in Cars 2 (2011), Finn McMissile (Sir Michael Caine) says that Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) is designing iPhone apps, and in Cars 3 (2017), Lightning (Owen Wilson) says, "does it have a phone?" He's talking about iPhones, and the Apple car that was in this movie, appears in the beginning race, and a next generation Apple racer appears when the next generations arrive.