When Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) is training the new millennial cars on the treadmills, she plays music for one car to remind him of home, and shows him a scene on the television. The scene is from Coco (2017), and the car comes from Santa Cecilia, where Coco took place.
In June 2017, Entertainment Weekly reported that during the voice-actor recording process for Cars (2006), 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." Those recordings made it possible for Doc Hudson to reappear in this movie, 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."
The film has very few references to the events of Cars 2 (2011). They include: Doc Hudson's death, his medical office being converted into a museum, Lightning McQueen's newly installed headlights, the cameo of Jeff Gorvette, a picture of Miles Axlerod in Sterling's office, and a television screen showing John and Nancy, the two cars in Paris, kissing.
Tom Magliozzi died in 2014. Instead of hiring a sound-alike, filmmakers reviewed old transcripts from Car Talk to find lines that would serve Rusty. Car Talk was a weekly NPR radio show hosted by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, where they were known as "Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers." "Don't drive like my brother" was their catchphrase at the end of the show.
Director Brian Fee has mentioned that the film is a love letter to racing, and the American way, and is inspired by the Americana you see travelling through the South where every small town has a dirt track.
Lightning's friends are named Bobby Swift and Cal Weathers, which seem to be a nod to Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton, Jr. from Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), which was released in the same year that Cars (2006) came out. Cal Weathers' name is also a nod to actor Carl Weathers who played Apollo Creed in the first four "Rocky" movies, and also provided the voice of Combat Carl in Toy Story of Terror (2013). The training scene on Fireball Beach between Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez is a tribute to the beach training scene in Rocky III (1982) between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed.
Jackson Storm is seen racing at the Buy n Large raceway in the Next Generation Extended Look. Buy n Large originated in WALL·E (2008), another Pixar film, making this the second Pixar film to reference it, the first being Toy Story 3 (2010).
This movie's teaser trailer suggested that this film would have a much darker tone than its predecessors. As a result, a controversy began whether or not to allow young McQueen fans to watch this film. However, it left Cars critics unexpectedly anticipating this film.
This movie features McQueen with his signature Cars look, and brings back familiar characters from Radiator Springs, including Mater, Sally Carrera, Fillmore, Sarge, Luigi, Guido, and auto-body shop owner Ramone.
The first film in the Cars franchise to not be directed by John Lasseter, since he chose to direct Toy Story 4 (2019) instead, though he was replaced by Josh Cooley part way through that film's production.
A tie-in video game accompanied the film's release. It was developed by Avalanche Software, which was shut down by Disney in 2016, but was acquired and revived by Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment. This makes this movie the first Pixar film to have a video game adaption since Brave (2012).
Cal Weathers, the old generation 42 Dinoco car is voiced by Kyle Petty. Kyle is the son of Richard Petty who voiced "The King" 43 Dinoco car. Kyle raced many years in NASCAR, but had less success when compared to his father's seven championships and two hundred race wins. The running gag in the movie where Cal overhears his replacement attempts makes more sense with this background information.
Despite somewhat different appearances, the cars that race for Trunk Fresh, Shiny Wax, Bumper Save, Sputter Stop, Spare O Mint, Lil Torquey Pistons, and No Stall at the beginning of the movie are the same cars that raced for them in Cars (2006).
NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon consulted the film's story by basing McQueen's struggles with the next gens on his experience about younger drivers out pacing him in the races. Also, the next gens are based on young Pixar interns who have the same creative touch as the Pixar crew.
In one of the flashback scenes of Doc, he is balancing a stack of objects on his hood ornament while saying to Lightning, "You might wanna take notes on this one." This line of dialogue is reused from Cars (2006): The Video Game in which Doc sometimes says it when passing another car in a race.
There are six new sponsors for the race cars in this movie, SynerG, Combustr, IGNTTR, Blinkr, Triple Dent, and Carbon Cyber. In addition, six sponsors from Cars (2006), Shifty Drug, Fiber Fuel, Sidewall Shine, Retread, Tach-O-Mint, and the unnamed sponsor for Junior aren't sponsoring any cars in this movie.
When Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez meet Miss Fritter, you might have seen the Pizza Planet truck zoom by on the track, but on a part that wasn't in the clip, one of the Crazy-8 racers smashes into the Pizza Planet truck, and its rocket flies into the stands.
Nathan Fillion plays Sterling, a billionaire who is known as the "Mud flap King of the Eastern Seaboard" as one of the businesses he owns is a mud flap company. Ironically, on Gravity Falls (2012), Fillion played Preston Northwest, a rich capitalist who also owns a mud flap company as one of his investments.
When they are first talking about Storm's chances of winning midway through, and give him a 95.2 percent chance as a subtle hint at McQueen coming in second place, as he is car number 95. The odds for McQueen at only 1.2 percent is a nod to Cars 2 (2011), as he is car number twelve in the line-up.
Michael Keaton was unavailable to reprise his role as Chick Hicks due to scheduling conflicts. Instead he was replaced with director Bob Peterson who previously voiced Roz in Monsters Inc (2001) and its prequel Monsters University (2013) and Mr Ray in Finding Nemo (2003) and its sequel Finding Dory (2016).
During the demolition derby, Lightning uses the name Chester Whipplefilter to try to hide his identity. "Mr. Whipple" is a character featured in Charmin brand toilet papers ads from the 1960s to the late 1990s. There is an oil filtering system that uses a roll of replaceable single-ply toilet paper as the filtering media.
Producers Kevin Reher and Andrea Watson have stated that this is not the last film in the franchise, and that they'd do a Cars 4 if it'll be better than the previous films, and would consider making Cruz Ramirez as protagonist. Lea DeLaria has also expressed interest in one of these days being able to reprise her role as Miss Fritter.
Bubba Wheelhouse, Danny Swervez, Jackson Storm, Ryan Inside Laney, Chase Racelott, Tim Treadless, Ed Truncan, Herb Curbler, and H.J. Hollis are the only next generation racers confirmed to be released as diecasts by Mattel. The next generation Easy Idle and Re-volting racers will also be released, but they're exclusive to multi packs only sold on Amazon.
At the Florida 500, Darell Cartrip says that forty-three cars are competing, but there are only thirty-four next generation racers, and one Lightning McQueen, so there was just thirty-five cars competing.
When Lightning is looking at his memories at the Rust-Eze Racing Center, a sign for the Radiator Springs 500 1/2 can be seen. This is a shadow to the episode of Tales From Radiator Springs, "The Radiator Springs 500 1/2".
The second animated sequel to have Cathy Cavadini as a voice actress and feature a reference or connection to The Blues Brothers (1980), the first being An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991). In that movie, Cathy voiced Fievel's (the title character's) (older) sister Tanya and the Blues Brothers cover of the song "Rawhide" is played as Fievel travels in a tumbleweed before he is reunited with Tanya and his (and Tanya's) family. In this movie, Catherine did additional voices and during the end credits, a sticker appears reading "I love both kinds of music, country and western", which is a quote from The Blues Brothers (1980). Ironically enough, Cars (2006) came out twenty years after An American Tail (1986), and Cars 2 (2011) came out twenty years after An American Tail (1986), both films are the only An American Tail films to be theatrically released. Also, this is the only Cars film (so far) to have Catherine/Cathy as a voice actress. Oddly enough, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991) is the only An American Tail film where Cathy voiced Tanya (she also voiced Tanya (and Yasha) in Fievel's American Tails (1992) (the television series that takes place after An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)).
This is the fifth Pixar production where a character is voiced by a new actor, which applies to Chick Hicks. The first was Slinky and Andy (younger at the start of the film) in Toy Story 3 (2010), the second was Fillmore in Cars 2 (2011), the third was Red in Cars Toons: Tales from Radiator Springs (2013), and the fourth time was Nemo, Squirt, and Jacques in Finding Dory (2016).
Was nominated for only two Annie Awards, the lowest amount not only for the Cars franchise, (Cars (2006) was nominated for nine and Cars 2 (2011) was nominated for seven.) but for any Pixar film in general, besting the previous record of only three for Toy Story 3 (2010), and Finding Dory (2016).
Multiple cars that bear sponsors from the first film, use different numbers. In Cars, the Re-volting racer used the number 84. In this movie, the Re-volting racers use the number 48. In Cars, the Vitoline racer used the number 61. In this movie, the Vitoline racers use the number 24. In Cars, the Octane Gain racer used the number 58. In this movie, the Octane Gain racers use the number 19. In Cars, the Easy Idle racer used the number 51. In this movie, the Easy Idle racers use the number 15. In Cars, the Transberry Juice racer used the number 63. In this movie, the Transberry Juice racers use the number 6.
In the new clip with the Next Gen Racers, Storm says "Good luck out there champ. You're gonna need it." This is a possible reference to Toy Story 3 (2010), when the Army soldiers left, and Sarge said "Good luck folks", and then another solider said "You're gonna need it."
Both Pixar movies released in 2017, this movie and Coco (2017), each start with the letter "C", contain four letters, feature Richard Anthony "Cheech" Marin as a voice, and have a character named Cruz.
Though this movie is not confirmed to be the last film in the franchise, all three films in the franchise were released in the gap between the first and second films of The Incredibles (2004) franchise.
Al Oft the Lightyear Blimp from Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011) makes three cameos in the movie. First, he appears in the beginning race. Second, he can barely be seen during the first race with all of the Next Gen racers, and last but not least, he appears in the simulator when McQueen drives up a ramp.
The only Cars film to not release the same year as a film in Warner Brothers' Happy Feet film franchise, of which Cars (2006) was released the same year as Happy Feet (2006), and Cars 2 (2011) released the same year as Happy Feet Two (2011).
This marks the second time two Pixar sequels were released in-between two original movies. In that case, this and Finding Dory (2016) were released in between The Good Dinosaur (2015) and Coco (2017). Previously, Toy Story 3 (2010) and Cars 2 (2011) were released in-between Up (2009) and Brave (2012).
The only Cars film not to release in the same year as a film in The Weinstein Company's Hoodwinked! franchise. Cars (2006) opened up the same year as Hoodwinked! (2005) (US release date for it was January 13, 2006), and Cars 2 (2011) opened the same year as Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (2011).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Though it's implied that Lightning McQueen is the last veteran racer still standing at the Los Angeles 500, there are actually ten other veteran racers seen racing at the Los Angeles 500. Reb Meeker, the veteran Tank Coat racer, Buck Bearingly, the veteran View Zeen racer, Brian Spark, the veteran Leak-Less racer, the unnamed veteran Rev-N-Go racer, Rev Roadages, the veteran Vinyl Toupee racer, Darren Leadfoot, the veteran Shiny Wax racer, Ponchy Wipeout, the veteran Bumper Save racer, Murray Clutchburn, the veteran Sputter Stop racer, Ralph Carlow, the veteran Lil Torquey Pistons racer, and Dino Draftsky, the veteran Clutch Aid racer, all made it to the end of the season. However, all of them were replaced with next generation racers by the Florida 500.
In Lightning McQueen's crash in the teaser trailer, McQueen has his old paint job that he had in Cars (2006), and at the beginning of Cars 2 (2011). In the actual movie, when he crashes, he has a different paint job.
At the Motor Speedway of the South, six veteran racers (the veteran Nitroade, Blinkr, N2O Cola, Mood Springs, Re-volting, and Easy Idle racers) were fired to make room for six new next generation rookies (Tim Treadless, Ryan "Inside" Laney, H.J. Hollis, Ed Truncan, Aaron Clocker, and Harvey Rodcap). This suggests that it's possible that more veteran racers were fired than retired.