New ‘Cars 3’ Characters Drew Inspiration From These NASCAR Legends

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Just because “Cars 3,” the upcoming installment of Disney Pixar’s “Cars” franchise, is animated, doesn’t mean the movie isn’t based on real-life auto racing.

In fact, the movie brings four new characters, all of whom are based on stock-car legends, to the series. The people over at Pixar clearly did their homework, as the new characters in “Cars 3” dig deep into racing’s rich history for inspiration.

Wendell Scott
“Cars 3” character: River Scott

Wendell Scott was the first African-American to compete in NASCAR, and still is the only African-American to have won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Scott made his debut on NASCAR’s premier level in 1961, and was inducted into the sport’s hall of fame in 2015.

“Lightning (McQueen) is at a place in his life where it’s about overcoming obstacles,” “Cars 3” director Brian Fee recently said, via ESPN. “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.”

Junior Johnson
“Cars 3” character: Junior “Midnight” Moon

A true NASAR legend, Junior Johnson won 50 races in his career, and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010. The inspiration for the 1973 movie, “The Last American Hero,” the now-85-year-old Johnson even voices Junior “Midnight” Moon in “Cars 3.”

Smokey Yunick
“Cars 3” character: Smokey

A legendary mechanic and car designer, Smokey Yunick was one of NASCAR’s most important figures during the sport’s early years. As famous for his car expertise as he was for his mouth, Yunick wasn’t necessarily someone who was made for family-friendly movies.

“We were all pretty good at finding gaps in the rules, but Smokey was probably the best.” Fee said, via ESPN. “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.”

Louise Smith
“Cars 3” character: Louise “Barnstormer Nash”

Often referred to as “The first lady of racing,” Louise Smith was one of the first female drivers to compete at NASCAR’s top level. During her NASCAR career, which spanned 1945 to 1956, Smith won 38 races.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Disney

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