I was out on a socially distanced walk with a friend the other day, when she mentioned that Disney Pixar’s ‘Cars’ would be turning fifteen years old this year. FIFTEEN! I was suddenly hit with a wave of nostalgia as my brain flicked through thousands of happy childhood memories that I had made with that movie. For many, as it is for me, ‘Cars’ can be blamed for their unhealthy obsession with all things fast, and the friendly faces of ‘Radiator Springs’ still hold a special space within their hearts. To celebrate the movie’s fifteenth birthday, we at DIVEBOMB thought it best to dedicate an article to talk about how it changed our lives.
The faces of ‘Radiator Springs’
Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Sam Stewart
Okay, life-changing may be a bit extreme when talking about an animated movie from 2006, set in a world where people have been replaced by cars – but hear us out on this one. Whilst the premise may seem somewhat apocalyptic, with cars becoming sentient, the emotional story conveyed served as many young motorsport fan’s first taste for the world of racing and automobiles as well as serving as a life lesson to us all.
The film does an amazing job demonstrating the fast-paced action of stock car races, following our star, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) as he chases for the ‘Piston Cup.’ The first scenes of the movie feature McQueen hyping himself up with the trope, ‘‘I am Speed,’’ as close-up, flyby footage of other stock cars interject the blackness of McQueen’s trailer. These epic scenes have the power to excite any young child and leave them with a lasting impression of racing.
‘Cars’ is more than a racing movie, however. It comments on the world’s changing priorities. Sally, McQueen’s love interest in the movie, remarks over a flashback of 1950’s radiator springs, that, ‘‘cars didn’t drive on it [the Route 66] to make great time, they drove on it to have a great time.’’ This is in relation to the construction of Interstate 40, which cut ‘Radiator springs’ off from the historic Route 66 in order to save a measly ten minutes. Humanity has a habit of sacrificing special moments in the name of convenience, and Sally’s reflection of heyday ‘Radiator Springs,’ serves as an amazing metaphor for this.
The movie continues to reminisce on small-town ideals as McQueen sought help from local legend, Doc Hudson. McQueen finds Doc’s dusty ‘Piston Cups’ whilst in an old warehouse and begins to learn of the grumpy car’s storied past. McQueen obviously senses the opportunity to learn from a champion such as Doc but becomes disheartened when Doc talks of the old times and how the modern world of racing shut the door on him. This is because the fast-moving nature of life refused to wait for Doc after his crash. Doc proves, however, that he still has the racing bone within him. McQueen catches Doc practicing around ‘Willy’s Butte’ and demonstrating his famous, ‘’turn right to go left,’’ move. This is another lesson in teaching to respect your elders, as they probably know a thing or two that could help you out. This was proven when McQueen uses the ‘‘turn right to go left,’’ technique in the final race.
During his time in ‘Radiator Springs,’ Lightning is tasked to fix the road that he had destroyed upon entering the small town. At first, McQueen attempted to fix the road as quickly as possible to get back to his big race on time – leading to a stern Doc forcing him to rip it up and start again. On the second attempt, he took his time and began to fall in love with the town and the cars in it – which became evident during the movie’s climax when McQueen experiences flashbacks to his time in ‘Radiator Springs’ during his big race. It was also in this race where we see how much McQueen has grown throughout the movie. ‘The King,’ during his last race, had a crash echoing the one experienced by Doc Hudson. McQueen, upon seeing this, slowed to a stop, mere meters before the finish line, to go back and help ‘The King’ finish his last race, thus teaching another moral lesson to the young car fans of the world. This act earned Lightning a chance to drive for ‘Dinoco,’ of which McQueen passed to continue to race for his friends at the humble ‘Rust-eze’ team demonstrating growth in our favourite red car.
The creators behind ‘Cars’ also did an amazing job with it’s voice actors. The cast behind this movie is outstanding, with many voice actors coming from the real world of racing. Notable celebrity voices include the ‘The king of stock car racing,’ Richard Petty to voice ‘The King,’ Darrel Waltrip, and Bob Costas to voice themselves in car form as ‘Darrel Cartrip’ and ‘Bob Cutlass,’ Jeremy Clarkson to voice ‘Harv,’ Dale Earnhardt Junior to voice ‘Junior,’ Jay Leno to voice himself as ‘Jay Limo,’ Mario Andretti voiced himself and Michael Schumacher also featured in the movie, as himself. The main cast was also incredibly stacked. With Owen Wilson voicing Lightning McQueen, Larry the Cable Guy voicing Mater, Bonnie Hunt voicing Sally Carrera, and the legendary Paul Newman voicing Doc Hudson as well as many more insanely talented voices, the world of cars was certain to become a lively and lovable place.
Finally, this call-back to ‘Cars’ will be for nothing if I didn’t acknowledge its incredible soundtrack. This movie does an amazing job when it comes to music. From hits such as ‘Life is a highway’ by Rascal Flatts to the banger that is John Mayer’s ‘Route 66,’ the movie is packed with outstanding songs. It also does a good job at pairing cinematic cutaways with the perfect song for the moment, such as when Sally’s ‘Radiator Springs’ flashback is played under James Taylor’s ‘Our Town.’
The original ‘Cars’ introduced millions of children to the various extremes of car culture. From the laid-back tuner cars that heckled ‘Mac,’ to the highly-strung professional stock cars and the luxurious models of the rich, these first impressions were sure to have influenced many generations of new drivers all while teaching vital life lessons along the way. If it wasn’t evident by this article, I rate this movie very highly amongst the all-time greats and think it’s a must-watch for any child. Who knows, maybe it will influence the next Lewis Hamilton to step in a go-kart, or the next Jimmie Johnson to visit an oval speedway.
To read another DIVEBOMB featured article, about ‘Women In Motorsport That Inspire Us,’ click here.