We step into the bowels of Pixar’s Emeryville-based HQ for a spectacular sneak peek.
The next generation of racers have come along to dethrone our beloved hero, Lightning McQueen. The character, a 5-title champ by now, sees his dominance and confidence threatened in the latest movie.
The movie is set to release on June 16.
Makers of Cars 3 have drawn immense inspiration from NASCAR and its racers for their latest creation. Talking to vets of the sport, including four-time champion Jeff Gordon, they’ve infused McQueen with complex layers a character of his kind should possess.
Even sports psychologists have been consulted with, to get into the mind of an aging champion and his refusal to give up. Turns out, quitting while you’re at the top is easier said than done. These racers start at an early age with their entire lives revolving around driving.
Hence, they’re unable to imagine a life without the sport. To assist in McQueen’s mission to stay at the top of his game, we’re introduced to an exciting new character: Cruz Ramirez - a young racing technician who, as it turns out, is as much of a technophile as us here at Stuff. Her challenge? To help McQueen adopt new-age winning techniques such as training on simulated racetracks.
Together they’re about to take on McQueen’s biggest nemesis yet: Jackson Storm - a fast, slick nextgen racing machine trained on the most high-tech simulators in the biz. Having witnessed 45min of the film we can say this: buckle up for the most intense Cars ride yet!
The real lightning McQueens
As a nod to the birth and history of the sport, makers chose to include real life NASCAR legends to help McQueen with his struggles.
In the movie, he’s lead to a group of characters who perfectly represent the roots of stock car racing. The character Smokey for instance, was inspired by real life legend Henry ‘Smokey’ Yunick - best known as a mechanic, builder and crew chief.
The character Junior ‘Midnight’ Moon on the other hand, is inspired by another real life legend Robert Glenn ‘Junior’ Johnson - a winner of 50 NASCAR races in the 50s and 60s. He’s even lent his voice for the character that he’s inspired. The film is sprinkled with surprises you’ll soon discover.
Every tech advancement available to the animators has been given the full beans in Cars 3. Lightning McQueen gets a fresh lick of paint that isn’t just edgy in design, but is also a visual treat technically.
A word with the team gives us an insight into the unique challenges faced by the makers. The biggest challenge being the Crazy 8 sequence. Perfecting the look of mud took months to attain absolute authenticity. Real world demolition derbies were witnessed by the makers to get every aspect of the explosive sport spot on. Now that’s the kind of research we dig.