Inspiration to create a Pixar character can come from a multitude of places, and when it comes to creating the world of Cars, the Cars 3 team looked at the legends of NASCAR to complete their story. In a newly released image (shown above), Lighting McQueen connects with racing roots as he chats with (from left) River Scott, Junior “Midnight” Moon, Smokey, and Louise “Barnstormer” Nash. ESPN released an exclusive sneak peek at the new characters and the racers who inspired not only their name but their design as well.
INSPIRATION: Wendell Scott 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame, first (and so far only) African-American to win a Cup Series race
VOICED BY: Isiah Whitlock Jr.
“We did so much research on NASCAR history, and these four jumped out as these incredible stories of inspiration,” director Brian Fee says of the Cars 3 dirt-track quartet. “Lightning is at a place in his life where it’s about overcoming obstacles. No one faced longer odds than Wendell Scott, racing where he did, primarily in the South, during the era when he did it, in the 1960s, and with little money at all. It really is amazing.”
INSPIRATION: Smokey Yunick Legendary mechanic, winning car builder/crew chief of both Daytona 500 and Indy 500
VOICED BY: Chris Cooper
Yunick was known for his hard facial features (see: the design of his animated car), his ability to bend rules, and his penchant for cramming multiple curse words into every sentence. Says Johnson: “We were all pretty good at finding gaps in the rules, but Smokey was probably the best.” Adds Fee, laughing: “We all read Smokey’s book [“Best Damn Garage in Town”]. It’s so great. But if we’d written our script exactly as Smokey would’ve said it, we’d be in big trouble.”
Be sure to visit ESPN for additional details surrounding Junior “Midnight” Moon and Louise “Barnstormer” Nash. Thanks to our reader Brendan for the heads up!