"Doc Hudson was a car of few words but many talents. He not only served as the town judge, he was also Radiator Springs' resident doctor. Doc was respected and admired by the town's folk for the way he looks out for their health and tends to their aches and pains. No one knows too much about Doc before he came to town. He kept his private life private. But if you've got a bad spark plug or a rattle in your engine, his door was always open."
"Hud started racing in the Piston Cup series back in 1951, when tracks were dirt, and cars were tough. No trailers, no pitties, just heavy-duty motors and strong chassis battling it out for a few bucks and a big cup. His low center of gravity, and agile cornering ability were impossible to beat and many of his fellow racers hit the hay bales trying to hold the line alongside him."
"Doc's racing days ended when he arrived in Radiator Springs. But with Lightning McQueen in town he can't help trying on those old racing tires to see if he's still got it."
He was once one of the most famous racecars in history; he won three Piston Cups, and still holds the record for most wins in a single season. However, it all changed for Doc when he was involved in a terrible crash during the final lap of the 1954 Piston Cup championship race, which saw him put out for the next full season. Upon his return, he was received with a complete absence of fanfare and told that he was a has-been who had been passed up for the next rookie in line. He reluctantly resigned from the sport, and vanished from public. He eventually settled in a forgotten town called Radiator Springs and moved into a house in the nice town. In his house he kept a newspaper article on the career-ending crash as a reminder never to return to the life that nearly killed him.
Jaded by the racing scene, he left that world, apparently taking out time to study medicine. The famous #51 disappeared into obscurity, leaving many wondering where he had gone. He instead opted for a simple navy blue paint job and the life of a physician in the tiny town of Radiator Springs, the "shining Gemstone" of the Mother Road - Route 66. He runs the Ornament Valley Mechanical Clinic as a "Doctor of Internal Combustion". As times changed and the town got bypassed in favor of Interstate 40, Doc stayed on, even when the population had dwindled to a meager dozen or so residents. He is respected, well-loved, and serves not only as the town's physician, but as its judge as well. However, nobody in the town had any idea of his past as a racer; he was just an ordinary Hudson Hornet to them.
Upon meeting Lightning McQueen, who had accidentally destroyed the main road in town, Doc saw far too much of his past in the rookie. He wanted to send the racecar out of town but Sally persuaded him to commit Lightning to community service by paving a new road. Only after an hour, the rookie attempted to quickly finish the job, only to do it sloppily. Doc ordered him to tear up the road and redo it. However, he challenged Lightning to a one-lap race around Willy's Butte if he wanted his freedom. He anticipated that the racecar who was too used to asphalt would not do well on the dirt track and lose control on the final turn right into a cactus patch. As he prepared to go to sleep, Doc watched with smugness as Lightning miserably began to work overnight.
The next day, everyone wakes up to find that Lightning had paved a good road up to the intersection, at least half of the job; Sally commented that Doc should have thrown the rookie into a cactus patch a lot sooner. Doc then found Sheriff watching Lightning attempting to make the last turn around Willy's Butte, having ran out of asphalt in the middle of the night. Doc volunteers to take over watching Lightning and attempts to give him advice on how to make the turn. However, Lightning failed to understand it and rudely drove off to try the course again, so Doc let him be.
On the third day, Doc was operating on Sheriff when Lightning rudely burst into his office, wanting to ask about his past. Doc ordered him to wait by Flo's V8 Cafe. Soon after, he finds Lightning in his garage, having discovered his identity as the Hudson Hornet. He was less than happy when Lightning discovers his past. Doc refused to speak of his past and called his trophies "just empty cups". Later in the day, Doc put on his race tires to take a lap around Willy's Butte and successfully made the turn. But when he realized that Lightning was spying on him, he promptly drove back to his home. Lightning followed him and asked why he gave up on being a big racer. Doc related his crash in '54 and how the sport rejected him after he recovered which made him cynical. Though Lightning insisted that he is not like the sportscars who rejected him, Doc wanted to know if he had ever cared about anyone besides himself. When the rookie hesitated to answer, Doc tells him that the Radiator Springs residents look out for each other and he does not want them reliant on a selfish car like him. Lightning then retorted that Doc is no better than him, by not opening about his past to his friends. Instead of countering, Doc angrily tells him to finish the road and leave town.
On the fourth day, Lightning had finished fixing the road and decided to stay for a while, Doc was unable to bear having him around any longer and called the news and press to immediately take him away to the Piston Cup, declaring that it is best for everyone. But seeing how disheartened everyone was by his unplanned departure, Doc realized that Lightning had become more important to them than he thought. He eventually reveals to everyone his racecar days and he took back his old #51 colors to become Lightning's pit crew chief, bringing nearly the entire town (except Sally, Red, and Lizzie -- who watched the race on TV) to the Piston Cup to support Lightning as his pit crew (and in an ironic twist of fate, finally received that long awaited fanfare for his return). When Chick Hicks caused Strip "The King" Weathers to crash, in a similar manner to Doc himself, Lightning chose to forfeit the race to help the King cross the finish line. Doc then expressed how proud he is of Lightning.
By the end of the film, Doc opts to keep his paint scheme, and becomes a trainer as well as a friend to Lightning. Just like Lightning, Doc learned some lessons: friendship, promises, how greed affects others, and that secrets cannot be kept forever.
Mater and the Ghostlight
Doc died prior to the events in Cars 2, but posters of him are still shown in his museum, including a photo of him as crew chief at Lightning's first Piston Cup race. In memory of him, the Piston Cup was renamed the Hudson Hornet Memorial Piston Cup, and gets a new logo with an image of the Hudson Hornet and the words "Hudson Hornet" above it. It appears prominently on Lightning McQueen's hood. Doc’s office was converted into the Hudson Hornet Racing Museum.
When Lightning was showing Mater his new Piston Cup, they were talking about him. Also, during the race in Tokyo, Darrell Cartrip mentioned that McQueen's mentor, the Hudson Hornet, was one of the best dirt track racers in history. On the dirt section, Mater told Lightning to do what Doc has taught him (turn right to go left), which he did and took the lead. Another allusion to Doc is made in the end during the Radiator Springs Grand Prix when all the racers drive up the side of the canyon where Willies Butte is located just like Doc used to do.
The circumstances of how Doc died are unknown.
John Lasseter was at first adamant that Paul Newman would return to voice Doc Hudson, even though he had announced his retirement from acting. After Newman's death, Lasseter said that they would see how the story goes with Doc Hudson. Story supervisor Nathan Stanton said: "we felt, after really tooling around with the idea of him being in the film and how do we properly use him, it just felt right that we should have his character have passed away also [as Paul Newman]." John Lasseter said that he realized "Doc Hudson was Paul Newman. The character was written after listening to him talk about his passion for racing," and that, "We pay homage to Doc Hudson, which is paying homage to Paul Newman."
Due to his death, Doc doesn't appear physically in this movie but a huge portion of it focuses on McQueen remembering him. He is also mentioned and alluded to several times as well as appearing in a few flashbacks that McQueen has of Doc training him, which helps him focus on race. His voice is provided by unused recordings of Paul Newman originally meant for the first movie. In the beginning, when McQueen is preparing for a race in his trailer, he has a flashback of Doc giving him a lecture on the dirt track in Radiator Springs.
Later on in the season, as the Next Gen rookies start taking over the veterans, McQueen loses control in the final race and winds up in a crash similar to the one Doc had that ended his career. As a result McQueen gets hospitalized for the next four months. One morning as the day of the first race on the new season is nearing, McQueen is in Doc's garage and watches an old video recording of Doc's last race showing his big crash. When the video ends, McQueen gravely remembers what Doc told him in the first movie about when he returned to the track expecting a big welcome, only to find that they moved on to the next rookie standing in line. Upon remembering this and glancing at Doc's newspaper article about his crash, McQueen starts to wonder if he is bound for the same fate as Doc. When Sally visits him a few seconds later, McQueen reminds her that Doc was forced out of racing against his will, and tells her that he doesn't want what happened to Doc to happen to him. Sally tells him to not fear failure but fear not having the chance because he has the chance while Doc didn't. Hearing this, McQueen decides to keep on being a racer and that he will decide when he's done and not end up like Doc.
At the very end of the film, Lightning McQueen learns what Doc Hudson felt as he mentors Cruz Ramirez, similar to how Doc mentored Lightning. Lightning ends up painting himself in a way similar to Doc Hudson's paint job, and even has the words "Fabulous Lightning McQueen" (similar to "Fabulous Hudson Hornet") and "For Doc Hudson" painted on. The last bit of the movie is two photos side-by-side, the left one being a picture of Doc Hudson with Lightning, the right one being Lightning (in his new paint job) with Cruz.
- Doc Hudson was a 1951 Hudson Hornet.
- A blue Hudson Hornet can be seen in The Incredibles, an Easter egg appearance of Doc Hudson. Even though Cars was released after The Incredibles, development of the film was well under way.
- The Hudson Hornet was one of the first cars used by drivers in the beginning of NASCAR.
- The story of the Fabulous Hudson Hornet is true. Many Hornets used in NASCAR at that time actually used that quote on their body paint design. Hudson won the championship from 1951-53.
- Although Doc's number was 51, there was no actual #51 Fabulous Hudson Hornet in real life. The number is most likely a reference to his model year (1951).
- His license plate is 51HHMD, which is a reference to his year and track number (51), model (Hudson Hornet) and profession (medical doctor).
- He was Paul Newman's last non-documentary role. Also, like Newman, he has blue eyes.
- Concept art published on Pixar's official website says Doc lived from 1951 to 2009. Whether this is canonical or not is uncertain considering this detail didn't make it into the final film.
- The newspaper clipping of him crashing bore the headline that said "Hudson Hornet does a cartwheel into the infield after hitting the outside wall. Champ was hurt badly in crash."
- In Cars: The Video Game, when training Lightning, Doc Hudson is in his original paint scheme with his standard wheels. Although his original paint scheme can be unlocked.
- "All right, I wanna know who's responsible for wreckin' my town, Sheriff. I want his hood on a platter! I'm gonna put him in jail till he rots! No, check that. I'm gonna put him in jail till the jail rots on top of him, and then I'm gonna move him to a new jail and let that jail rot. I'm... Throw him out of here, Sheriff. I want him out of my courtroom. I want him out of our town! Case dismissed."
- "I know his type, "Race Car". That's the last thing this town needs."
- "The deal was you fix the road, not make it worse. Now scrape it off, and start over again."
- "Hey! Was that floatin' like a Cadillac or was that stingin' like a Beemer? I'm confused. You drive like you fix roads! Lousy! Have fun fishin', Mater."
- "This ain't asphalt son, this is dirt."
- "I'll put it simple. If you're goin' hard enough left, you'll find yourself turnin' right."
- "Sign says "stay out!"."
- "I knew you couldn't drive. I didn't know you couldn't read."
- "You look! All I see is a bunch of empty cups." - Doc stating that the trophies aren't important, which would foreshadow McQueen's character development.
- "They [his sponsors] quit on me. When I finally got put together, I went back expecting a big welcome. You know what they said? 'You're history.' Moved right on to the next rookie standing in line. There was a lot left in me. I never got a chance to show 'em. I keep that to remind me never to go back. I just never expected that that world would...would find me here."
- "When was the last time you cared about something besides yourself, hot rod? You name me one time, and i'll take it all back."
- "These are good folk around here, who care about one another. I don't want 'em depending on someone they can't count on."
- "I didn't come all this way to see you quit."
- "I knew you needed a crew chief, but i didn't know that it was this bad." - Doc Hudson realizing that McQueen is in a situation where he is being harassed by Chick Hicks.
- "You got a lot of stuff kid."
- "Not all my tricks, rookie!"
From Mater and the Ghostlight
- "If only you moved that fast on the race track."
From Cars 2
- Mater: "Wow! I can't believe they renamed the Piston Cup after our very own Doc Hudson!"
Lightning McQueen: "I know Doc said these things were just old cups, but to have someone else win it just didn't feel right, you know?"
Mater: "Well, Doc would've been real proud of you. That's for sure."
- —Lightning McQueen shows Mater his new Hudson Hornet Piston Cup.
- Brent Mustangburger: "French rally car Raoul ÇaRoule is counting on a big boost headed through there."
Darrell Cartrip: "And don't forget Lightning McQueen. His mentor, the Hudson Hornet, was one of the greatest dirt track racers of all time. In my opinion, McQueen is the best all-around racer in this competition."
- —Brent Mustangburger and Darrell Cartrip mentioning Doc Hudson.
- Mater: "McQueen, it's time to make your move! Get on the outside and show 'im what Doc done taught you!"
Lightning McQueen: "10-4, Mater."
- —Mater tells Lightning to take the turn by telling him to do what Doc taught him.
From Cars 3
- "Ha, that ain't racing. That wasn't even a Sunday drive. That was one lap. Racing is five hundred of those. Everybody fighting to move up, lap after lap, inside outside, inches apart, never touching...now that's racing."
- —Doc giving McQueen a racing lesson in a flashback.
- "Car Finder" (supplementary material on Blu-ray Disc release of Cars). 2007. Blu-ray Disc. Walt Disney Home Entertainment, 2007.
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