How I Spent a Day at the Sonoma RaceWay for Cars 3 #Cars3Event

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So, Cars 3 hits theaters nationwide on June 16 and I couldn’t be any more excited!! I love the cars series and from the sneak peak I saw while on a press trip to San Francisco, Cars 3 is going to be A M A Z I N G.

About Cars 3

Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!


So, in celebration of Cars 3, my blogging group and I paid a visit to Sonoma Raceway and learned a lot of really cool info not just about the history of NASCAR, but how the history played into the character development of Cars 3.

I was on a real racewau, a RACE CAR TRACK guys. FOR REAL.


How They Tied NASCAR history into Cars 3

When researching for the latest Cars film, Ward shared they based their legends in the film on real legends.

Junior Moon: Based on legendary NASCAR driver and mechanic Junior Johnson. Johnson’s father was a moonshiner and Junior became a bootlegger. He was a great driver, but had a stint with the law. When he came out, he became a stock car racer and champion driver. Then transferred over to a mechanic and a champion crew chief. He kept climbing the corporate ladder and ultimately brought the first major sponsor onboard to NASCAR.

PS We also got to sneak into the garage at Sonoma Raceway and check out some cool cars. I couldn’t wait to to tell you until the end of the post. Sorry!


River Scott: Wendell Scott was the first African American making major accomplishments in NASCAR during a pre-Civil Rights era. While other drivers would pull into the pits and have a crew handle, Wendell Scott did not. He had to jack it up and change his own tires! Despite his challenges, he still managed to become the first African-American to win in the Grand National Series.

Smokey: Smokey Yunkick was one of the best racing mechanics of all time. Smokey was known for finding holes in the racing rules. Smokey’s theory was that if it didn’t say you couldn’t do it in the rules, then you could. He’s known for wearing a hat, so his character in the film wears a visor.

Louise “Barnstormer” Nash: Louise Smith was one of the first lady drivers ever in NASCAR. She won several times at NASCAR’s highest level back at a time when women weren’t even allowed in the pits. She drove a Nash, which the same vehicle you’ll see in the Cars 3 film.

I’d like to think I’m a little like Barnstormer, what do you think?


What does NASCAR stand for? National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. It was an acronym given by Bill Franz Sr when he got a group of guys together and started a legitimate league.

We asked Jay: Where did NASCAR begin? Where does NASCAR get its roots?

It actually all began in what we call the Moonshine Days when these guys used to run “product.” 

Ray: Moonshiners would make their product and they’d need to get it to the towns and cities. And the easiest way to transport that stuff was by using guys who were called bootleggers, who would take stock-appearing cars and modify them. They were great at driving in them at nights through winding roads. 

Jay: What happened was as these guys began racing against each other on the back roads they realized, “Oh I’m faster than you. I always get away from the cops.” They began to sort of say who was the fastest driver and they began to play against each other.


Ray: They started to take their cars instead of being on the road where nobody could see them, they brought them to the field so your buddy could see you beat the other guy. There actually became a strong rivalry between the Dawsonville Georgia Moonshiners and the North Carolina Wilkes Borough area moonshiners.

Note: they did not drive cars like these.


Jay: One day, Bill Franz comes along and says “Wait a minute, this could actually be a legitimate sport. This is kind of fun. Crowds are beginning to show up. People are actually going to pay to see these cars race. Maybe there’s something here beyond actually running moonshine.

Jay: They used to run these cars on the beach. People are standing up on fence posts taking photos. Safety was not a high priority at the time.  These are cars from the late 30s. 

Ray: 38 Ford Coupe was a great bootlegger car but this car was special because Randy Parks was one of the biggest moonshiners in the south and he hired the best drivers. his mechanic was Red Boyd who’s a champion crew chief.

Jay: By the early 50s, manufactures started saying, “Why are these guys running old cars? What if we ran one of our new cars out there and people saw how fast our cars were? Race on Sunday, sell on Monday.

Ray: The Fabulous Hudson Hornets. They’re longer, they’re lower, they’re rounder. They had good strong engines and suspension. They handled well. These cars were really fast and they dominated the sport. 

Jay: When we worked on Cars 3 we thought, “Who would Doc run with back in the day?” Who did Doc race with all those championship years. We wanted to create these legend characters. So we actually looked at the history of the sport and we based our legends on the real legends.

UGH I love this! This is why I love Pixar so much, because they always make the story SO REAL.


Of course we had to ask…

What are you most proud of with these movies?

Ray: I’m really proud of the way that Pixar chose to be so respectful of our legacy and really tell those stories accurately. I’ll tell you in working with them they’re very respectful of where our heroes came from. 

You guys have got to watch this Cars 3 trailer and check it out in theaters June 16th!!!

Get Social With Cars 3

Like CARS on Facebook:

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Subscribe to the Disney/Pixar YouTube channel here:

Visit the official CARS 3 website here:

CARS 3 opens in theatres everywhere on June 16th!

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