When I saw the preview for “Cars 3”, my mind went into overdrive thinking of ways to coax my 9-year-old daughter to go and see it with me so I wouldn’t have to go alone. It’s technically a “kid’s movie,” so it would atone for my intentional dodging of her repeated requests to take her to both “Sing” and “Trolls”.
Plus, thanks to the addition of new cars based on actual NASCAR legends and several current drivers, as well as a relatable “never give up no matter the odds” storyline, it’s the perfect way to introduce your child — or someone else’s — to the sport.
Lightning McQueen hasn’t gotten any younger and is recovering from a near career-ending accident. In his absence, a fleet of young drivers has emerged, led by rookie Jackson Storm. Thanks to racing simulations and technological advancements, Storm is the next-gen car of the future primed to take out old man McQueen.
Several current NASCAR drivers, as well as past historical icons, have new roles in the film, and previous NASCAR-fueled roles are reprised.
As a teenager, driver Daniel Suarez slept with a pillowcase that had Lightning McQueen on it. In “Cars 3”, he’ll race against McQueen as the character Danny Swervez, a next-gen racer who’s ascending the Piston Cup series ladder against all odds.
Ryan Blaney will make his debut in the film as Ryan “Inside” Laney, known for his racing passion and ability to have fun on the track.
2016 Sonoco Rookie of the Year Chase Elliott, perhaps the closest thing to Jackson Storm in real life, joins the field as Chase Racelott.
Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Mike Joy, Humpy Wheeler and Kyle Petty all reprise their previous roles.
Another nice NASCAR-related wrinkle added by first-time director Brian Free is the inclusion of four new characters based off historical figures who succeeded on the track despite long odds.
Wendell Scott, the only African-American driver to win a Cup Series race, makes his debut as River Scott.
Junior Johnson, the 85-year old former moonshiner and driver who won 50 NASCAR races, plays Junior “Midnight” Moon and voices the character himself.
Smokey Yunick, arguably the greatest mechanic in the history of motorsports, comes to life on screen as Smokey.
Louise Smith, the “First Lady of Racing,” who won 38 races over 12 years and stole her husband’s car (and wrecked it) to compete in her first race, joins the film as Louise “Barnstormer” Nash.
Disney has jammed as much NASCAR into “Cars 3” as possible. And for a sport targeting millennials and younger fans, you’d have to assume CEO Brian France is giddy with joy.
Speaking of younger fans, your child (or whoever’s) will be indoctrinated into racing without ever suspecting a thing. And you’ll be able to watch a kid’s movie that doesn’t involve a princess.
“Cars 3” accelerates into movie theaters on June 16th.