Cars is an animated feature film produced by Pixar Animation Studios, presented by Walt Disney Pictures, and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Its release date was June 9, 2006 in the US and July 28, 2006 in the UK. This movie is the seventh Disney/Pixar feature film, and the final film under a contract with Disney created before the purchase of Pixar by Disney.
Directed by John Lasseter, who had previously directed other Pixar movies such as Toy Story and A Bug's Life, the film is set in a world populated entirely by anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles. It features the voices of Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, Cheech Marin, Tony Shalhoub, John Ratzenberger, George Carlin, and Larry the Cable Guy. Many of the voices of the racecars are real race car drivers. They include Richard Petty, Mario Andretti, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Schumacher. Notable cameos also included sports broadcaster Bob Costas as "Bob Cutlass," NASCAR broadcaster and former Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip as "Darrell Cartrip," Jay Leno as "Jay Limo", and Tom and Ray Magliozzi (hosts of NPR's weekly Car Talk) as Rusty and Dusty Rust-Eze. The film was rated G by the MPAA. The film premiered on May 26, 2006 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.
From left to right: Chick Hicks, Lightning McQueen, and The King.Taking place at the Motor Speedway of the South, Lightning McQueen is a young race car, living life in the fast lane, who has dreamed all his life of winning the Piston Cup Championship which brings fame, fortune, and a battle for the Dinoco sponsorship. Going into the final race of the season, there is a three-way tie in the point standings between himself, nine-time Piston Cup legend Strip "The King" Weathers (a 1970 Plymouth Superbird), and the aggressive yet perseverant Chick Hicks, a 1980 Buick Regal. Both Chick and McQueen want Dinoco as their new sponsor, due to the retirement of The King after a long career in the Piston Cup Racing series. McQueen has an enormous lead in the final lap of the final race, but due to his arrogant refusal to get new tires earlier in the race, both his back tires burst until his rear rims scrape the track in sparks. He barely finishes the race and ends up in a three-way tie with both Chick and The King.
A tie-breaker race is organized to take place in Los Angeles in one week. McQueen and his transport truck Mack begin a journey across Autoworld to California. At McQueen's impatient insistence, Mack drives all night so they will be the first to arrive at the speedway. In the middle of the night, while they ride along Interstate 40, four street racers have fun with the increasingly drowsy truck. As they throw Mack around, the trailer's rear door opens, and a sleeping McQueen rolls onto the busy interstate. After waking up, McQueen soon becomes hopelessly lost on Route 66. He speeds past the Sheriff of Radiator Springs, mistaking his backfiring for gunshots and speeds in a panic through the darkness, tearing up the main street of a sleepy town in Arizona called Radiator Springs, until he becomes tangled in telephone wires.
The next morning, McQueen awakens to find himself impounded, with a parking boot clamped to one of his front tires. After a brief conversation with Mater, a rusty, old tow truck, and Sheriff, local judge Doc Hudson orders McQueen to leave the town immediately, but the town attorney Sally Carrera suggests he stay and help repave the road. McQueen is hooked up to Bessie, an asphalt machine, and told that he must repave the road. Remaining interested only in leaving the town to make it to his race, he finishes paving under one hour and as a result creates a bumpy, unusable road. Tired of McQueen's hotshot attitude, Doc Hudson challenges McQueen to a race at Willys Butte, saying McQueen can leave if he wins, but if McQueen loses, he'll have to fix the road Doc's way. At the track, Doc is left in McQueen's dust as the racer roars off. Doc remains at the starting line, unconcerned. Moments later, McQueen gets loose and overshoots a tight turn and winds up over a cliff in a cactus patch. Doc, clearly expecting this result, tells McQueen that McQueen drives like he fixes roads as Mater tows McQueen out of the patch. McQueen scrapes off his botched attempt at the road and is forced to start over again.
The next day, the townsfolk discover that McQueen has finished repaving a section of the road and are amazed at the perfection of its paved smoothness. Since McQueen ran out of asphalt in the middle of the night, Sheriff allowed him to try to make the turn at Willys Butte again under his supervision, but McQueen continues to fail and receive even more scratches from the cacti. Doc suggests Lightning uses opposite lock steering, but McQueen sarcastically ignores him. He eventually decides to try Doc's cryptic clue of "Turn right to go left", out of curiosity. His first attempt at the technique ends up earning him another trip to the cactus patch. That night, Mater is instructed to watch Lightning, so he decides to take his new friend "tractor tipping" (a play on cow tipping, as the tractors in Cars are depicted as cows).
Doc Hudson (left) and Lightning McQueen (right) before their "race" at Willys Butte.The next morning, while waiting for the Sheriff to give him his daily gas ration, McQueen sneaks into Doc's garage and finds out that Doc was a famous Piston Cup racer, the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, and the winner of three consecutive Piston Cups. Doc finds McQueen in the garage and pushes him out. When McQueen mentions the three Piston Cups Doc won, Doc tells McQueen that all he sees are "a bunch of empty cups."
Sally decides to take McQueen for a drive through Tailfin Pass, on the outskirts of Radiator Springs, ending at the Wheel Well Motel, an old hotel located at the top of a bluff overlooking the entire town and valley. At the top, McQueen learns that the town once thrived, before being bypassed after the construction of the Interstate forty years ago. After that, McQueen comes to understand the town's troubles.
When he returns to town, McQueen sees Doc at Willys Butte making the turn that McQueen couldn't by drifting. When Doc finds out that McQueen was watching him all along, he speeds back to his garage, with McQueen following him. Doc orders him out angrily, even telling McQueen that he and McQueen are not equal in ways that really counted, but McQueen persists, demanding to know why Doc would quit at the top of his game. Doc shows McQueen a newspaper article about his devastating crash in 1954, telling McQueen that his backers had quit on him for another car while he was being repaired. McQueen says he's not like them, but Doc challenges him to name a time he didn't act selflessly, which he can't do. Doc orders McQueen to leave as soon as he finishes the road.
The next day the townsfolk discover that McQueen has finished the road while they were sleeping. Instead of leaving, McQueen visits every store in town and they hold a "cruise" party that night. Suddenly he is surrounded by a crowd of reporters and news cars, and whisked away by Mack to the race. Sally is shocked to discover it was Doc who tipped them off.
Sally and Lightning talk with each other upon arriving at the Wheel Well.At the race in California, Lightning daydreams of Sally and Radiator Springs. Lagging behind, McQueen is revitalized after most of the Radiator Springs townsfolk arrive to become his pit crew, with Doc as his crew chief. Not only does this lift McQueen's spirits, but the crew draws some attention as well, thanks to the re-emergence of the Fabulous Hudson Hornet (in full racing colors) and Guido's incredibly swift solo tire changing, which is faster than entire pit crews. This encouragement enables McQueen to catch up to the leaders and gain first place. On the last lap, Chick Hicks makes a desperate effort to finally finish ahead of The King and side-swipes him, sending The King into a horrific, tumbling crash (similar to real-world crashes experienced at Daytona International Speedway by Richard Petty in 1989, and Rusty Wallace in 1992). McQueen, remembering how Doc's crash ended his career, hits his brakes, stopping just short of the finishing line. He stays until Chick passes, and goes back and pushes The King to the finish line to end his career with dignity. Chick wins the Piston Cup, but is booed as a despicable cheater and is denied the Dinoco sponsorship. Lightning is offered the sponsorship by Tex Dinoco, which had been McQueen's dream from the very beginning, but Lightning has a change of heart, deciding to stay with his current sponsor, Rust-eze, as they were the sponsor that gave him his big break.
Two days after the race, McQueen moves to Radiator Springs and makes it his racing headquarters, along with a special museum (with a section dedicated to Doc). Thanks to McQueen, Radiator Springs receives a boost of tourism, revitalizing the town, and the once abandoned Route 66 becomes a major traffic roadway again, been reclassified as "Historic Route 66."
Like all Pixar productions, the animation is computer generated. This is a work-in-progress screenshot.Unlike most anthropomorphic cars, the eyes of the cars in this film were placed on the windshield (which resembles the Tonka Talking Trucks, as well as the characters from Tex Avery's One Cab's Family short and Disney's own Susie the Little Blue Coupe), rather than within the headlights. According to production designer Bob Pauley, "From the very beginning of this project, John Lasseter had it in his mind to have the eyes be in the windshield. For one thing, it separates our characters from the more common approach where you have little cartoon eyes in the headlights. For another, he thought that having the eyes down near the mouth at the front end of the car made the character feel more like a snake. With the eyes set in the windshield, the point of view is more human-like, and made it feel like the whole car could be involved in the animation of the character." The characters also use their tires as hands, the exceptions being the various tow truck characters who sometimes uses their tow hooks, and the various forklift characters, who use their forks.
The original script (called The Yellow Car, about an electric car living in a gas-guzzling world) and some of the original drawings and characters were produced in 1998 and the producers agreed that Cars would be the next movie after A Bug's Life, and would be released in early 1999, particularly around June 4. However, that movie was eventually scrapped in favor of Toy Story 2. Later, production resumed with major script changes.
The race sequence in the teaser trailer was likely made before the other sequences, as the Piston Cup cars sport different body styles and paint jobs. The style of the race (a.k.a. Piston Cup) and some of the drivers and characters seem to be dated.
In 2001, the movie's working title was Route 66 (after U.S. Route 66), but in 2002, the title was changed to prevent people from thinking it was related to the 1960 television show with the same name. Also, Lightning McQueen's number was originally going to be 57 (Lasseter's birth year), but was changed to 95 (the year Toy Story was released), the number seen in the movie today.
Cars was originally going to be released on Friday, November 4, 2005, but soon after the trailer's release in January 2005, the movie's release date was changed to Friday, June 9, 2006. The delay could be considered a good move, because one of the most complex shots in the movie, where Sally drives in front of the waterfall, crashed Pixar's render farm. Chicken Little was released instead.
Cars is the last film worked on by Joe Ranft, who died in a car crash in 2005. The film was the second to be dedicated to his memory, after Corpse Bride. This is also Paul Newman's last movie before he retired in 2007.
Vehicles and voice cast
List of Cars characters.
Characters Image Vehicle Likeness Gender Eye color Color Licence plate number Voice actor
Lightning McQueen LA Times: "[A] mix of a stock car and a more curvaceous Le Mans endurance Auto racing" Male Blue Red (none) Owen Wilson
Doc Hudson 1951 Hudson Hornet, later revealed to be the Fabulous Hudson Hornet Male Blue Navy Blue 51HHMD Paul Newman
Mater mid-1950s Chevrolet One-Ton Wrecker Tow Truck Male Hazel Originally blue, but is now rusty. A113 Larry the Cable Guy
Sally Carrera 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera Female Blue Blue 301 PCE Bonnie Hunt
Chick Hicks Pixar: "a generic 1980s stock car." Strongly resembles a mid-1980s Buick Regal or Grand National. Male Brown Green (none) Michael Keaton
The King Richard Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird Male Brown Petty Blue (called Dinoco Blue in the film) (none) Richard Petty
Ramone 1959 Chevy Impala lowrider Male Green, New and different paint-job every day -- sometimes has gold flames LOWNSLO Cheech Marin
Fillmore 1960 VW Bus Male Brown Green 51237 George Carlin
Sarge A Willys model jeep, in the style used by the US Military. Male Brown Green 41WW2 Paul Dooley
Flo 1957 Motorama show car Female Green Minty Green SHO GRL Jenifer Lewis
Luigi 1959 Fiat 500 Male Brown Yellow 445 108 Tony Shalhoub
Guido Custom forklift, possibly an Isetta model Male Reddish Brown Sky blue and white. (none) Guido Quaroni
Sheriff 1949 Mercury Club Coupe (police package) Male Blue Black and white 001 Michael Wallis
Mack 1985 Mack Superliner Male Green Red RUSTEZ3 John Ratzenberger
Lizzie 1923 Ford Model T Female Grey Black MT23 Katherine Helmond
Red 1960s style fire truck (most closely resembles a mid-1960s Pirsch pumper but also resembles American LaFrance models) Male Brown Red 002 Joe Ranft
Cars opened on June 9, 2006 to mostly positive reviews. William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer praised the film as "one of Pixar's most imaginative and thoroughly appealing movies ever."  Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly called the film "a work of American art as classic as it is modern."  Most critics agreed that the film was even better than some other Pixar Films, especially after the nearly unanimous praise for The Incredibles. "The movie is great to look at and a lot of fun," wrote critic Roger Ebert, "but somehow lacks the extra push of the other Pixar films."  Laura Clifford of website Reeling Reviews wrote that the film's "only real drawback is its failure to inspire awe with its visuals and to thoroughly transport with its storytelling." 
Rotten Tomatoes named Cars the best reviewed animated film of 2006 and animated category winner in their Golden Tomato Awards and received a certified fresh 76%, the lowest percentage of any Pixar film to date. It received a 73/100 on metacritic.com.
In its opening weekend, Cars grossed $60.1 million, lower than previous Pixar films such as " The Incredibles" and " Finding Nemo". However, the film held onto the #1 spot for two weeks before being surpassed by Click and then by Superman Returns the following weekend. However, Cars opening weekend and final gross was considerably higher than either of those two films, and was the third-highest-grossing domestic film of 2006 behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and "Night at the Museum". It went on to gross $244,082,982 in the U.S . The film also outgrossed fellow animated films that year, such as Flushed Away, Open Season, Everyone's Hero, The Ant Bully, Barnyard (film), Monster House.
Cars had a highly successful run during the 2006 awards season. Many Film Critic Associations such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review named it the best Animated Feature Film of 2006. Cars also received the title of Best Reviewed Animated Feature of 2006 from Rotten Tomatoes. Randy Newman and James Taylor received a Grammy Award for the song "Our Town," which later went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song (an award it lost to "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth). Cars was also selected as the Best Family Movie at the 2006 People's Choice Awards. Perhaps the most prestigious award that Cars received was the inaugural Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Cars also won the highest award for animation in 2006, the Best Animated Feature Annie Award.
However, Cars did not receive the inaugural British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Animated Feature or the 2006 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Both of these awards went to Happy Feet. Cars' defeat at the Academy marked the first time since the award's inception that the winner of the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature did not go on to win the Academy Award, a big upset, since Cars was expected by most to win.
Cars was released on DVD in Australia and New Zealand on October 25 2006, in the United States and Canada on November 7 and in the United Kingdom on November 27, and is available in both Widescreen and Fullscreen editions. It contains the short film Mater and the Ghostlight, One Man Band (another Pixar short which showed before the film in theaters), and Inspiration for Cars, a 16 minute long documentary about the film featuring John Lasseter. The documentary is considered by many to be a condensed version of the longer "Route 66: Main Street America" produced in 2000 by Todd Baker for TLC (TV channel) and starring Peter Fonda.
Unlike previous Pixar DVD releases, there is only a one-disc version, with no plans laid out for a future two-disc release as of November 2006. According to Sara Maher, DVD Production Manager at Pixar, this is because of John Lasseter and Pixar being busy with upcoming productions like Ratatouille, although additional extras not seen on the disc have been released on the Official DVD Website.
In the US and Canada, there were bonus discs available with the purchase of Cars at either Wal-Mart or Target. Wal-Mart featured a Geared-Up Bonus DVD Disc that focused on the music of the film, including the "Life Is A Highway" video, The Making of "Life Is A Highway", Cars: The Making of the Music and Under The Hood, a special that originally aired on the ABC Family cable channel. Target's bonus was a Rev'd Up DVD Disc that featured material that was mostly already released as part of the official Cars podcast and focused on the inspirations for and production of the movie.
Australian retailer EzyDVD was taking pre-orders for a two-disc edition of the DVD to be released at the same time as the one-disc version; however, these are no longer available due to overwhelming popularity. The second disc includes short featurettes covering the music, real cars, Route 66, and other inspirations for the movie, but very little about the animation. It is not known whether this second disc will contain the same features as a future Region 1 two-disc edition. Also, the DVD release included a 1:55 scale die-cast Lightning McQueen.
According to the Walt Disney Company, 5 million copies of the DVD were sold in the first two days it was available.
In the Disney Blu-ray website, it was announced that Cars will be coming the Blu-ray Disc on a 2-disc dual-layer format, and it will begin shipping in June 5, 2007. This will be the first Pixar movie to be made into production in Blu-ray Disc format.
There is a hidden Easter Egg on the DVD. On the main screen, after the third image of the Piston Cup flashes in front of Lightning McQueen, a Dinoco 400 logo appears in the bottom right hand corner. Upon selecting it, a short film featuring Lightning, Mater and Guido that parodies the Pixar short Boundin' will play. Another Easter egg occurs upon clicking as soon as the logo is disappearing, a Piston Cup that is exploding will be shown; the start of the movie will follow.
The Mattel-produced 1/55 scale die-cast cars were some of the most popular toys of the 2006 Summer Season. Dozens of characters are represented, with some having multiple versions available. Several stores had trouble keeping the toys in stock, and some models are still difficult to find because of being shipped in lower numbers than other characters. Some online Disney enthusiasts are comparing it to the same shortage that Mattel faced with its Toy Story line in 1995. Some of the die-cast cars are only readily available on eBay.
On June 22, 2006 Disney Consumer Products announced that Cars merchandise broke records for retail sales based on a Disney-Pixar product, recording 10-to-1 more volume than Finding Nemo. DCP reports that product expansion will take place in the fall alongside the DVD release of the film.
Estimates from the New York Daily News indicate that sales of Cars merchandise two weeks out from the release of the film amassed to $600 million USD. Estimates put out in November by the Walt Disney Company peg total sales for the brand at around $1 billion.
Kelley Blue Book, the de facto resource for appraising values of vehicles, has humorously "appraised" four of the cars, Lightning McQueen, Mater, Sally Carrera, and Doc Hudson according to their make/model and personalities. 
The United States Department of Transportation has used scenes from the movie in a commercial regarding the Click It or Ticket campaign.
In conjunction with the film's release, a chocolate ice cream on a stick resembling a car tire was released in Australia. These ice creams were called 'Burnouts'. The naming of the particular product sparked controversy as the name 'Burnouts' was believed to have encouraged street racing and committing burnouts. These acts are illegal and heavy fines and convictions are issued to those committing these acts in Australia. It is unknown as to whether the products have been discontinued or not.
In Norway, the candy company Nidar produced candy with the characters on the outer packaging and pictures of the characters on the packaging of the assorted candy on the inside. These bags also came with Cars themed tattoos.
In the US, an animated Wal-Mart truck can be seen on a Wal-Mart ad and Wal-Mart TV commercial for Cars. In the Wal-Mart TV commercial the Wal-Mart truck was talking to Mater.
In South Africa, Italy and several other countries where Opel is present (or with Opel models under Chevrolet and Vauxhall brand), GM has a campaign featuring an Astra, a Meriva and a Zafira as characters in the world of Cars, including TV ads made by Pixar, with the Opel models interacting with Lightning McQueen, Mater and Ramone. The first ad involved the Opels coming to Radiator Springs as tourists. The second involved their failed attempts at auditoning for Mater. In the end the Opels lost the part to the real Mater.
In July 2006, greeting card giant Hallmark unveiled its line of 2006 Keepsake Christmas ornaments. Among the collection was an ornament featuring Lightning McQueen and Mater.
There is also a Cars clothing line, which produces various t-shirts and shorts; however, these are generally only found in children's sizes.
In May 2007, the Cars videogame was announced to be a "Platinum hit," "Greatest Hit," and "Player's Choice" title on the Xbox, PlayStation 2/PSP, and Nintendo Gamecube, respectively; a sequel is on its way to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii. 
Pixar insider references and jokes
Mater's license plate number (A113) and the train that McQueen beat passed the tracks, is the same number as the cell in which Mr. Incredible, of Disney and Pixars The Incredibles, is contained and the same number as the meeting room where he is attacked.
The Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story is seen anthropromorphised at the end race.
While Mack is transporting McQueen to California, a very short cameo of birds from " For The Birds" can been seen on the telephone pole's wires while the camera is taking various views of the country road.
 Cultural diversity
As with other Pixar films, the characters represent diverse backgrounds and nationalities.
The character Mater at different points in the movie says "Git R Done" and "I don't care who you are, that's funny right there," both catchphrases of Larry the Cable Guy, who voices the character in the stereotypical drawl of an American hillbilly. Mater is named after Douglas Keever, whom John Lasseter met at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Although Flo is listed as a Motorama show car, she appears to be inspired by three early- to mid-fifties show cars: the 1951 Buick LeSabre (front-end lines, the basic hood shape, lights mounted near the corners, and front-quarter trim), the 1951 Buick XP-300 (side trim), and the 1956/57 Chrysler Dart (cockpit, deck lid, and tailfins). Flo is played by Jenifer Lewis who is often cast as an African-American mother figure.
Fillmore is a 1960 Volkswagen Type 2, voiced by comedian George Carlin. Carlin was one of the first comics to be embraced by the flower children of the 1960s, and the VW van is usually associated with the hippie culture. In the 1990s, Carlin narrated several episodes of the children's TV show Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. This show also featured anthropomorphic vehicles, although most of them were trains. Throughout the film, Fillmore is shown with half-closed, unfocused eyes, and he speaks in slow, sleepy speech peppered with the word "man." This is also reminiscent of Tommy Chong, one half of the famous "pothead" duo Cheech and Chong.
Coincidentally, Ramone is voiced by Tommy Chong's former partner, Cheech Marin. He is a Chevrolet Impala lowrider, a creation popular among Latinos. He is Pixar's first Latino character.
Luigi is a Fiat 500 with an Italian accent provided by Tony Shalhoub. By coincidence, the Fiat 500 is the same kind of car used by Lupin III, the protagonist of the Lupin III series and movies. Hayao Miyazaki, a good friend of John Lasseter, worked on two of the Lupin TV series and directed the Lupin III movie The Castle of Cagliostro. Lasseter said in an interview he did not intend for the reference to be there, although Cagliostro is still one of his favorite films.
The European model cars in the film include Sally Carrera, Fillmore (both German) -- though their country of origin does not influence their characters, plus Luigi, several Maserati Quattroportes (Italian), seven-time Formula1 champion Michael Schumacher (Italian; although he is German, he drove for Ferrari, and the car he voiced is a Ferrari F430). British motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson was the voice of Harv in the film's UK edition. In Clarkson's book, Clarkson on Cars, he described himself as a 1979 Ford Granada Ghia so it could be implied that Harv was (in the UK edition) a British/German car. In Finnish version former Formula1 champion Mika Häkkinen was the voice of the King, while in German version it was the three-time Formula1 champion Niki Lauda. Mika Häkkinen was the name of the #11, Ford Fairlane, in the German version, who originally was voiced by Mario Andretti.
Mario Andretti voices a 1967 Ford Fairlane 500 stock car, painted blue and gold with the number #11. Mario Andretti won the 1967 Daytona 500 with a car of the same appearance prepared by Holman-Moody.
Three of the Tuner Cars (minus Snot Rod) are Japanese imports; Mia and Tia are Mazda Miatas, and their names are a pun on Miata. Frank's predominant color, orange, is the color of Japanese tractor maker Kubota. There is a Japanese woman (a 1990s Mazda AZ-1) on the world news.
The landscape in the distance behind Radiator Springs is made up of rock formations intentionally reminiscent of Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. The road map shown in the montage history of the town calls the area "Cadillac Range."
The setting for Radiator Springs is situated between Gallup, New Mexico and Kingman, Arizona. A landmark called Radiator Cap overlooks the town, and has two white letters ("R" and "S") written upon it.
Radiator Springs is loosely based on Amboy, California in the Mojave Desert -- a town that showed a decline in almost all traffic when I-40 opened in 1972. Sally references this in the film.
Nearby "Ornament Valley" (a reference to Monument Valley) is made of rock formations that project from the valley walls or rise from the valley floor and resemble the front ends of late 1930s to early 1940s American automobiles.
The Flo's V8 Cafe logo is similar to that used by the '32 Ford V8, the first V8 for mass marketed cars. This logo also appeared on Ford V8 in the sixties as well as Third-Generation Ford Explorers.
The track on which the opening race (Motor Speedway of the South) takes place is actually based on and an enlarged version of the real life Bristol Motor Speedway. The track used for the Piston Cup tiebreaker race is based on the Pasadena Rose Bowl as well as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the California Speedway. Its banked turns and long backstretch resemble Daytona International Speedway, the track that hosts NASCAR's season-opener, the Daytona 500. The tiebreaker race is even the same number of laps (200) as the Daytona 500.
Many characters and places in the movie are directly inspired on real Route 66 places and people.
To quote the Pixar crew:
"As we traveled on Route 66, we were privileged to visit many places and to meet a number of people who live and work alongside 'The Mother Road.' The following is a list of the places and people we wanted to honor by including their names in our 'Special Thanks' credits at the end of the film."
The soundtrack has two versions of the classic Nat King Cole jazz standard "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66", one by Chuck Berry and a new version recorded specifically for the film's credits performed by John Mayer.
Among the many references to Route 66 landmarks and personalities:
The Cozy Cone Motel's design is based on the two Wigwam Motels along Rt. 66, in Holbrook, Arizona and Rialto, California. These were once two out of seven motels, with individual cabins shaped like teepees. The name "Cozy Cone" was inspired by the Cozy Dog Drive-In of Springfield, IL, which lays claim to being birthplace of the corn dog.
The character "Fillmore", referring to the famous San Francisco music venue The Fillmore, was at one time to be named "Waldmire" after Bob Waldmire, a self-proclaimed hippie artist known to Rt. 66 fans for his detailed pen-and-ink maps and postcards of the route. Though Waldmire's family owns the Cozy Dog Drive-In, Bob, now a vegan, preferred not to see his name put on a character that would become a Happy Meal toy.
Ramone's House of Body Art is based primarily on the U Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas. It opened in 1936 as Tower Conoco (from its distinctive Art Deco spire) with the U Drop Inn Cafe and a retail building attached. Many other establishments built along Route 66 in its heyday had Art Deco elements that might be reflected in the design of Ramone's.
As stated several times in the film, the only organic life that exists is plantlife. All other lifeforms are artifical, taking the forms of cars, blimps, trains, etc. Even insects and birds are modeled after cars and other vehicles. The character of Tex, has cattle horns on the top of his hood, suggesting that the horns are from an animal similair to a cow or bull. However, it has been shown in the film that the species of cow has been replaced by tractors. (IE cow tipping is relpaced by tractor tipping) So it becomes confusing as to how Tex would have cattle horns if cows or any type of cattled dont' exist.