- "Speed. I am speed. Floating like a Cadillac. Stinging like a Beemer."
- —Lightning McQueen
Lightning McQueen is the main character of the Cars franchise. He is a main character in Cars and Cars 3, and a supporting character in Cars 2. He also appears as Mater's sidekick in Mater's Tall Tales. He is a red 2006 rookie race car. He races for the sponsor, Rust-eze.
Before getting into Radiator Springs, Lightning McQueen is flashy, brash, and supremely confident and had a lot of drive. A real whiz on the track, he's determined to race to victory on his first attempt in the prestigious Piston Cup. Lightning loves all the attention and adulation that comes with being famous. He has his eyes on a new lucrative sponsorship deal with Dinoco, which would replace his current deal with second-rate rust removal ointment Rust-eze. For Lightning, this would mean more money, fans, free helicopter rides, and even more fame.
Since the race track is always so well lit, Lightning McQueen isn't equipped with any headlights. Instead he wears a pair of fake headlight stickers. Lightning takes a dim view of those cars who find this fact absolutely hilarious.
Although Lightning McQueen finds his lifestyle a real gas, deep down something is not quite right. Concentrating so much on winning has cost him all of his support team, and he has no real friends apart from his loyal driver truck, Mack. Often lapsing into daydreams, Lightning doesn't seem to know how to enjoy the here and now.
After getting into Radiator Springs, his time in the town has taught him what's really important, like true friends. Lightning values time with his girlfriend, Sally Carrera, and his friends, especially Mater, in Radiator Springs. He learned most of what he knows about racing from the late great Doc Hudson, and he is looking forward to passing this knowledge on as he enters the next phase of his career.
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Cars
- 3 Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales
- 4 Cars 2
- 5 Cars 3
- 6 Personality
- 7 Customizations
- 8 Specifications
- 9 Trivia
- 10 Quotes
- 11 Gallery
- 12 References
Lightning is a red race car with yellow and orange decals all over, the Rust-eze logo is painted on his hood, the number 95 (which is an Easter egg to the release year of Toy Story) is painted in orange or red on his doors and roof, red rims, blue eyes.
Lightning is a red racecar sponsored by Rust-eze Medicated Bumper Ointment ("With Just a Little Rust-eze, you can look like Lightning McQueen!"). Lightning's model is a 2006 hand-built stock racing car - one of a kind.
He is number 95 in the movie, and at the beginning of the movie, he is racing in the final race of the 2006 Piston Cup Series in Nashville, Tennessee. McQueen is one of the three cars in the field capable of winning the Piston Cup Championship. Winning the Piston Cup would make McQueen the first ever rookie to do so. luckily for him, he is leading near the end of the race. However, when he foolishly refused a new set of tires, causing his current rear ones to blow out on the final lap. He narrowly sticks his tongue out, making a three-way tie with the other 2 cars in contention for the Championship, Strip "The King" Weathers and Chick Hicks.
At first, Lightning is obnoxious, selfish, and rude to everyone, having fired three crew chiefs and treating his pit crew like garbage to the point where they had enough and furiously quit. Lightning later talks with Weathers who praises him for his talent and guts, but criticizes him for his "one-man deal" attitude. Weathers advises that he needs a good crew and a good chief behind him. Lightning's attention drifts towards getting the Dinoco sponsorship he craves so he does not pay full attention. On the way to Los Angeles, CA for the tie-breaker race, he selfishly makes his transporter Mack drive all night offering to stay awake with him only to fall asleep shortly after. A quartet of tuner cars harass Mack and bump his trailer, causing the racecar to fall out. When Lightning wakes up he notices that Mack is gone, and tries to follow him only to lose him in the process, and after a turn of events including almost being hit by a train and running into a grumpy Peterbilt, ends up in Radiator Springs where he accidentally tears up the main road and is arrested by Sheriff, who then tells him, "Boy, you're in a heap of trouble."
The next morning, Lightning is put on trial, where the town judge Doc Hudson is ready to throw the book at Lightning. The second he takes one look at him, he instead wants him out of town and dismisses the case. A lawyer named Sally Carrera shows up and Lightning is immediately taken with her. Sally convinces Doc that fixing the road is the best thing for the town, so Lightning is sentenced to fix the road using a road paving machine named Bessie. Lightning attempts to escape, but Sheriff siphoned his fuel while he was in the impound, forcing him to stay.
Lightning is so desperate to leave that he runs Bessie at full speed. This results in a bumpy and uneven road. Doc makes a wager with him: if Lightning can beat him in a one lap race around Willy's Butte, then he wins his freedom; if he loses, he has to scrape off the botched asphalt and start over. Lightning immediately leaves Doc - who does not even move - in the dust. He fails to make a hard left turn in the dirt and winds up in a cactus patch, costing him the race. As he resumes paving, Lightning is so miserable that he refuses the town when they offer him anything. Doc takes pleasure in his suffering for some reason.
On the second day, the town sees that Lightning finished about a third of the road. Doc meets with Sheriff at Willy's Butte to find Lightning trying to make the hard left turn he couldn't do. Doc sends Sheriff away and advises Lightning on making the turn. Lightning does not get the advice and winds up in another cactus patch. Later on, Guido fixes a slow leak in his tires and spins them to get rid of any cacti as a thank you for paving the road so well. Red then hoses him off on Sally's orders. She offers him to stay the night at the Cozy Cone Motel, an offer Lightning is too happy to accept. It seems Sally is taken with him as well. Also, the look of the new road has inspired the townsfolk to repaint and fix up their businesses.
That night, the local tow truck Mater is put in charge of watching Lightning and takes him tractor tipping. Lightning does not think much of it but revs his engine, causing every tractor to tip. The two have a good laugh and barely outrun a bull-like harvester named Frank. On their way back, Mater teases him about his feelings for Sally and then shows off his incredible backwards-driving skills. Mater inquires about Lightning's big race and learns about the Dinoco sponsorship Lightning wants. Lightning mentions that it would come with access to helicopters which gets Mater to ask for a helicopter ride if he gets the deal. Lightning says he would get him a ride which leads Mater to say he made a good choice in picking Lightning as his best friend, a gesture he is touched by. Sally overheard that, telling Lightning that Mater trusts him, implying he should not take that lightly.
The next morning, Lightning is waiting for his daily gas ration only to wander into Doc's garage. To his surprise he finds three Piston Cups and a newspaper article revealing that Doc Hudson is really the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, a three-time Piston Cup champion and record holder for the most wins in a single season. Doc finds him and kicks him out, saying the trophies are "a bunch of empty cups." Lightning tells the rest of the town about Doc but they laugh at the idea. Sally shows up and fills up his tank, asking him to take a drive with her. For a moment, Lightning considers making a run for it, but he follows Sally.
The two drive through a forest and mountains. Lightning is awestruck at the natural beauty of the area. They stop at the now-closed Wheel Well Motel where Sally reveals she was once a lawyer who was unhappy with her life. She broke down near Radiator Springs. Sally was fixed up by Doc and taken in by Flo and the rest of the town. She fell in love with the place and moved there. Sally explains that Route 66 was the main road around there and Radiator Springs was a popular tourist stop. All that changed when Interstate 40 was built forty years prior, bypassing the town and causing both the town and the highway to fall off the map entirely. She hopes that they will get it back on the map one day.
After McQueen returns to the town, multiple tractors come stampeding in. Lightning goes off to round up a stray heading towards Willy's Butte. He unexpectedly finds Doc wearing his racing tires showing off his skills. Doc uses a technique called drifting to make the turn Lightning couldn't do.
Lightning then confronts Doc as to why he would quit at the top of his game. Doc corrects him showing him a newspaper article of a major crash he suffered in 1954 in the final lap of the Piston Cup finals. After missing an entire season he returned only for his sponsors to turn their backs on him in favor of the next rookie in line. Doc vowed never to go back, which explains why he wanted Lightning thrown out. Lightning claims he is not like those who turned their backs on him but when Doc presses him on a time he thought about anyone besides himself, he cannot answer. Doc does not want the townsfolk depending on someone like him, but Lightning retorts that Doc is no better by hiding the truth about his past. Doc only tells him to finish the road so he can leave.
The next day, everyone wakes up to see the road is finished. Except for Doc, they are upset that Lightning seemingly left without saying goodbye, but then he shows up to their delight. Sheriff offers him a police escort to Los Angeles but he declines. Lightning has decided to help the town by being their customer: he buys a set of whitewall tires from Luigi and Guido, Fillmore's organic fuel, a set of night-vision goggles from Sarge, some bumper stickers from Lizzie and finally a custom paint job from Ramone. Also, the townsfolk fixed up their neon signs as a result of the new road. A cruise party breaks out that night. While Lightning and Sally are together, a swarm of press shows up. Mack arrives too and apologizes for losing him. Before he leaves, Sally thanks him for everything, wishing him luck in the race. Lightning gets into Mack's trailer but he is sad to leave, having bonded with everyone in Radiator Springs. Sally is angered to learn that it was Doc who tipped off the press about Lightning. Doc says it is best for everyone, but Sally can clearly see that Doc had done it for himself, proving Lightning right about his selfishness.
The day of the race arrives. Lightning prepares for the race with Mack is his pit crew. Lightning has troubles as he cannot stop thinking about Sally and Radiator Springs, causing him to lose a lap. He then gets a surprise when he hears Doc - who is wearing his old racing colors - acting as his crew chief. Most of the town is there serving as his pit crew while Sally, Red, and Lizzie stayed behind to watch in town. With renewed focus, Lightning starts to make up the lost lap. He makes good use of backwards driving to overcome Hicks' dirty tactics. Lightning suffers a flat tire but Guido makes a record-breaking pit stop to get him back out there in time to beat the pace car. Hicks again plays dirty by knocking him onto the grass but the drifting technique allows Lightning to take the lead in the final lap.
McQueen is on the verge of winning the Piston Cup. However, an angry Hicks who refuses to finish behind King again, violently kicks him out, which causes King to suffer a major crash. Lightning was about to win, but after seeing the King crash onscreen, he realized that the same thing that happened to Doc will happen to him. So, McQueen stopped at the finish line after this, but he allowed Chick Hicks to pass through. He reverses and pushes The King across the finish line so he can end his career with dignity. The crowd erupts in cheers for the two racers. Hicks is condemned by the fans and the media. The King's wife Lynda kisses Lightning in gratitude for what he did for her husband. Lightning is praised for his good sportsmanship so much that Tex Dinoco offers him the Dinoco sponsorship. Lightning and The King were the winners, and the officials declined the Piston Cup for Chick Hicks. Lightning realized that helping others is more important than fame. Though it is everything Lightning ever dreamed of, he politely declines to stay with his Rust-eze sponsors as they had given him his big break. Tex respects his decision and says that he will be willing to do a favor for him. Lightning cashes in that favor by arranging for Mater to have a helicopter ride.
Lightning then decides to establish his racing headquarters in Radiator Springs, putting the town back on the map. Lightning gets a new look, which is Ramone's custom job but with the Rust-eze logo, his racing tires, and a circular black and white 95 logo. He meets with Sally at the Wheel Well, telling her he missed her. They start a relationship as they race back to Flo's. Doc takes him under his wing, showing him some new tricks.
Cars Toons: Mater's Tall Tales
Lightning now serves as the deuteragonist in Mater's very own show.
The show begins with Mater telling Lightning what he used to be and did in the past. However, Lightning never believes Mater (as he was not there), and whenever he asks Mater if the stories really happened, Mater will always say, "Don't you remember? You was there, too!". Then, Mater continues the stories, including Lightning's sudden participation. The episodes end with Mater leaving, often followed by the characters and/or references from Mater's stories, implying that the stories might be real. Here, Lightning is often shown getting hurt or getting some other predicament (such as being chased by bulldozers and being trapped in a burning building) in some of Mater's stories, although not always.
In the second film, Lightning returns, but as the deuteragonist.
This time around, Lightning is racing in the first ever World Grand Prix to determine who's the world's fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours, and hilarious surprises.
"Number 95 Lightning McQueen top speed was 230 and he is still a hotshot racecar, but his rookie days are past him. Now a permanent resident of Radiator Springs, Lightning has become a bona fide worldwide celebrity as winner of four Piston Cups.
After his long racing season, resulting him winning his fourth Piston Cup, Lightning returns home to Radiator Springs to enjoy the summer. All of his friends excitedly greet him, but none so more than Mater, eager to have a fun-filled summer with him. After an entire day involving riding on railway tracks with no tires and tipping over an enormous haul truck, Lightning politely tells Mater that he wants to enjoy the evening with his girlfriend Sally. However, Mater suddenly pretends to be a waiter at Wheel Well Motel as an excuse to hang out with his friends. After sending Mater off to get his usual drink (which Mater did not know), the couple notice a crowd gather inside the bar. Deciding to find out what's going on, they spot Francesco Bernoulli on TV, insulting both him and Mater over the phone. Lightning pulls Mater away from the phone before he could embarrass himself and anyone else further, making snug comebacks at Francesco that rile him and make him leave the stage. Miles Axlerod suggests that the two racers settle their dispute in the World Grand Prix, a high profile, three-part exhibition race that Axlerod previously extended an invitation to Lightning. As Luigi, Guido, Sarge, and Fillmore volunteer to fill in as his pit crew once more, Lightning gladly accepted the challenge. Sally then suggested bringing Mater along, as Lightning had never brought him to any of his races. Despite his reluctance, Lightning gives in to Sally's reasoning and invites Mater along.
But competing against the fastest cars in the world tests more than his racing skills when Lightning realizes his wide-eyed best friend may not be the pit chief nor ambassador he needs to navigate the unfamiliar international terrain."
During a race against several other competitors including an Italian car named Francesco Bernoulli, Lightning unexpectedly loses the race in Tokyo after Mater is unexpectedly mistaken for a spy and therefore abandoning his position as crew chief, unintentionally giving him bad advice in the process. McQueen gets mad at Mater and claims that he doesn't need or want his help anymore, causing the tow truck to feel dejected. The next morning, Lightning and the others discover a farewell note from Mater, apologizing for what he had done. Lightning then reassured himself and his friends that at least Mater will be safe back home. Little that he knew that Mater had been mistaken from a spy and was caught up in a plot involving Lemon cars and the race.
As Team Lightning McQueen arrive in Luigi and Guido's home town in Italy, a depressed Lightning began to feel guilty over his fight with Mater. Luigi's Uncle Topolino tells him that he has been too harsh on Mater and should accept him for who he is.
In Porto Corsa for the second race, Lightning manages to win one over on Francesco. However, they then spot most of the other racecars having suffered engine damage from the Allinol fuel in their tanks exploding. Though Axlerod is forced to suspend Allinol's use from the final race in London, Lightning announced that he would continue to use Allinol, stating that Fillmore said it was safe, and that "he didn't stand by Mater recently, he wasn't going to make the same mistake twice". Unknown to him, the Lemons decided to target and kill him during the final race to fully discredit Allinol.
Lightning later called Radiator Springs to talk to Mater, only to learn that he didn't return home. In response, Sally and the others joined him in London, Sheriff and Sarge departing their company to consult respectively with Scotland Yard and the British Military to find Mater. He was then personally approached by Axlerod, who thanked him for giving Allinol another chance. When Sally reminded him that Mater would want him to race, Lightning resolved to race in his best friend's name.
In the middle of the race, Lightning spotted Mater in the pits, only for the latter to desperately drive away from him. He chases Mater through the streets, trying to apologize, not knowing that he had a bomb in his engine. After the chase, they hear from Professor Z that it's voice activated and can only be deactivated by the one who activated it in the first place. Mater soon realizes that Miles Axlerod is the criminal behind the World Grand Prix, but is worried that nobody will believe him. Then, Lightning tells him what he learned, and Mater goes to the palace and forces Miles to deactivate the bomb. For that, Lightning decides to bring Mater to all his races from now on.
After Mater is formally knighted by the Queen, everyone returns to Radiator Springs, where they receive a visit from Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell. Lightning then questioned why the Lemons' EMP camera didn't ignite the Allinol in his tank, to which the spycars had no answer. They all turn to Fillmore, who admitted that Sarge switched his Allinol with Fillmore's organic fuel, hence why Lightning didn't explode.
As all the WGP racers are invited for the Radiator Springs Grand Prix, Lightning and Francesco's rivalry had toned down, as they both agreed that the race is better off without cameras or press. As he turned to introduce the Italian to Sally, Francesco quickly addressed her and stated that Lightning is the luckiest car to have her as his girlfriend, before adding that he'll need luck to beat him. Lightning then sported off his new stickers saying, "Ka-Ciao Francesco", which amused his rival.
In the middle of the race, Mater joins the racers on his rocket jets and races Lightning for first place as the film ends.
During the credits, Lightning and Mater are seen visiting many places around the world before returning home.
"Lightning McQueen is world champion – a modern-day racing legend who's riding high with 7 Piston-Cup wins under his hood which can only be matched by The King Strip Weathers who also has 7 piston cups. Suddenly, he finds himself faced with a new generation of racers who threaten not only his dominance in the sport but the confidence that got him there. Determined to get back to the pole position, the #95 must decide if his love for racing is enough to fuel the comeback of his life."
Lightning returns in Cars 3 for the second time as the protagonist. He has struck up friendships with fellow racers Cal Weathers - who is now racing for Dinoco with his uncle Strip "The King" Weathers as his crew chief - and Bobby Swift. Tex Dinoco would still like Lightning to race for him, even courting him within earshot of Cal. During the season, a newcomer named Jackson Storm seemingly comes out of nowhere and wins. Lightning later congratulates him only for Jackson Storm to state it was an honor to "finally beat him", later telling his crew that he "struck a nerve", showing that he likes to use emotional manipulation to get into his opponents' heads. Also, Storm uses the latest technology to train, making him a highly-skilled precision racer.
The season goes on with Storm continuing to rack up wins, and more advanced, rookie racers begin supplanting the older generation. Cal chooses to retire, telling Lightning how much he valued their friendship. Bobby is fired by his sponsor and replaced with Danny Swervez. On the next race, Lightning gets increasingly desperate to win, but fortunately Guido is still fast at pit stops and gets him back out, with his girlfriend Sally Carrera and best friend Mater cheering him on. Jackson Storm continues to mock him on the track, passing him. Daniel Swervez and Chase Racelott - another next-gen racer - also pass Lightning. Lightning pushes himself as hard as he can, but both of his rear tires burn out and he suffers a violent rollover crash. Sally, Mater, Guido and Luigi go out to see if he's okay while emergency responders check on him.
Four months later, Lightning has recovered and is back in Radiator Springs. He's in Doc's old garage watching footage of the crash that ended his career. Sally then checks on him. Lightning doesn't want to end up like Doc who was forced to retire. Sally tells him not to fear failure, reminding him that he has a chance. She resorts to some reverse psychology to get him going. Lightning tells all his friends he intends to keep racing. After Ramone re-paints Lightning in his original racing color scheme, Mack takes him, Guido and Luigi to the new Rust-eze Racing Center. He's surprised to learn that Dusty and Rusty sold Rust-eze to billionaire Sterling, who appears to be a big fan. He has Lightning fitted with a new suit which tracks his speed and vital signs. Sterling shows off all the high-tech training equipment, including the most advanced simulator available.
Lightning is introduced to Cruz Ramirez, a friendly and enthusiastic trainer who first riles Lightning up by saying he's an imposter, but this was quickly shown as a motivational tactic. Cruz trains Lightning, who's itching to try the simulator. Unfortunately, it goes badly when Lightning rams into various objects, catches on fire, flies off the restraints and crashes into the screen. Sterling then calls him into his office, showing him lots of merchandise with his likeness. McQueen realizes that Sterling doesn't want him racing anymore, so he makes a wager: if McQueen wins his next race, he retires whenever he wants; if not, he'll sell all the merchandise he can. McQueen, Guido, Luigi, and Mack head to Fireball Beach to train, with Cruz following them to help.
Cruz will run alongside him using her digital assistant Hamilton to gauge his top speed, but will have to stay very close. This proves easier said than done since Cruz doesn't know how to race on sand. It takes until sunset to get it right. McQueen's top speed is gauged at 198 mph, which is still slower than Storm. He decides to head to Thunder Hollow which has a dirt track, but when Luigi gets worried about the press finding him there, Mack assures him he can give Lightning a disguise.
When they get there, Lightning is covered in mud to mask his appearance, going by the name Chester Whipplefilter. They realize too late that it's a Demolition Derby, and Cruz now has to take part too. The champion is a monster school bus named Miss Fritter. Both Lightning and Cruz barely avoid getting hit, but McQueen has to protect Cruz from Fritter. Cruz wins the derby, but accidentally trips a water truck over, inadvertently washing Lightning off and blowing his cover.
A furious Lightning lashes out at Cruz in Mack's trailer, complaining that he spent the entire day having to take care of her. He states that he has to win his next race to continue in the sport, saying she wouldn't understand since she's not a racer. And in the process, Lightning breaks Cruz's trophy. Angry, Cruz orders Mack to pull over and snaps back at Lightning. She never wanted to be a trainer, but a racer like him. She got to her first race, but felt she didn't belong and left. Lightning admits at Cruz's urging that he never felt he didn't belong. She wishes she knew what that felt like. Cruz drives off on her own. Lightning felt bad as Cruz began driving off. He did not mean to hurt her feelings.
Mack spends the night sleeping under a bridge while Lightning watches TV. Footage of the demolition derby plays. Also, analyst Natalie Certain reports that Jackson Storm has set a new record for fastest lap, making him the heavy favorite at 95.2%. Lightning calls Mater who fortunately was still awake. Mater initially can't come up with good advice until McQueen says he wishes he could talk to Doc again. Mater makes an off-handed comment that the car who taught Doc would know more about racing than him. With that, Lightning catches up to Cruz and convinces her to come with him to Doc's hometown of Thomasville.
Once arriving, Lightning and Cruz get a look at the dirt track where Doc used to race. They meet Doc's mentor Smokey, who takes them to a bar with fellow racing legends River Scott, Junior Moon, and Louise Nash. Lightning tells Smokey that he wishes he could've seen Doc during his racing days when he was at his happiest. Smokey tells Lightning that he never heard from Doc after he moved to Radiator Springs, but one day he started getting letters from him. Smokey shows Lightning a wall with pictures of Lightning and Doc, revealing that coaching Lightning was the happiest time of his life. Smokey tells him he can't be faster than Storm, but he can be smarter than him, as evidenced by making it through the derby without a scratch.
Since Lightning missed the qualifiers, he'll have to start from behind and Jackson Storm will start in front. Cruz has a spoiler installed and black tape is used to make her resemble Jackson Storm so she can be a "sparring partner" for Lightning. The two will race on the speedway with the latter only having three laps to overtake her, but he can't. They use other techniques to train: dodging thrown bales of hay and other obstacles, maneuvering through a tractor stampede, and driving through a forest at night without their headlights on. The two get the hang of the exercises. While night driving, Lightning's suit gets torn off by the trees, giving him back his original racing colors.
During this, Lightning and Cruz watch old footage of Doc's races. They see that he used the drafting technique to gain speed and see him use the barricade to flip over another car who tried to ram him into the wall. On their final day of training, Lightning manages to pull ahead on the speedway, but Cruz still wins. They have to head to Florida for the race.
While Sheriff, Lizzie, and Red stayed behind, the rest of Radiator Springs arrived in Florida to cheer Lightning on, with Smokey acting as his crew chief. McQueen starts out last but gains ground. Sterling orders Cruz to leave. This doesn't sit well with Lightning, who hears the conversation, and wants her back. After a wreck occurs, Lightning makes the call that Cruz will finish the race for him. She is quickly prepared by Ramone, Luigi, and Guido while Mater keeps Sterling away. Cruz officially joins the race with the #95 but she's nervous. Lightning relays advice to her but takes over as her crew chief. Cruz puts all the training to great use and makes it near the top. While Storm is in first, he purposely falls back to second place as Cruz makes it to third place. He resorts to psychological warfare against her but Lightning tells her Jackson Storm sees her as a threat or he wouldn't be using such tactics.
The final lap comes. Cruz is right behind Storm who can't shake her. Jackson Storm rams her into the wall but she uses Doc's flipping move to escape and take the lead. Cruz wins the race to the delight of the crowd.
Everyone congratulates her on the win. Sterling then reverses fields and tries to convince Cruz to race for him, but she turns him down flat. Tex makes her an offer to be the next racer for Dinoco, which Cruz accepts. Lightning is declared a co-winner since he started the race with the #95. Lightning decides he wants to keep racing, but he has something to do first.
Back in Radiator Springs, Cruz now sports the Dinoco logo as well as the #51, carrying on Doc's legacy. Lightning has been painted the same blue shade as Doc and now brands himself as the "Fabulous Lightning McQueen", becoming her crew chief. Rust-Eze has been bought by Tex as well. In a way, Lightning has achieved an old dream of racing for Dinoco. With all their friends watching, the two have a race around Willy's Butte.
Lightning started out as an arrogant, selfish, and conceited racecar who felt he did not need any help to win races. He was unsatisfied with having the small and unglamorous Rust-eze as a sponsor, intended to ditch them for Dinoco the first chance he got. When asked about his tie-breaker race and who he wanted to give his free tickets to, it dawned on him that he did not have any friends. After winding up in Radiator Springs by accident, he starts to lose his less desirable traits as he forms a bond with the town and its residents. He was very touched when Mater saw him as his best friend and grateful to Sally for offering him a place to stay at her motel.
As a racecar, Lightning is very talented, gutsy, and confident. He strives to be the best at what he does as evidenced when he tries to make a proper turn on dirt. By the time of his tie-breaker race he has changed into a more kind and caring individual using what he learned in Radiator Springs to gain the advantage. Lightning willingly forfeits the Piston Cup and decides to admit defeat so that Strip Weathers could finish his last race, having realized what is really important in life.
McQueen can still be selfish even after the first Cars film, which clouds his judgment, and takes his anger out on his friends whenever things go wrong for him. However, he later seems to recognize the error of his ways whenever this happens. He was constantly complaining during his first two days of re-paving the road in Radiator Springs, but later got over it. He lashed out at Mater for costing him the first race at the World Grand Prix in Tokyo, thinking Mater was yelling nonsense at him (Mater was caught in the middle of the fight between Finn McMissile and the Lemons, but failed to properly explain this to McQueen), but later felt guilty about it. McQueen was upset at Cruz Ramirez for both costing him valuable time training on Fireball Beach and for having to protect her at the Demolition Derby in Thunder Hollow. When she told him she always wanted to be a racer, he apologized, and brought her with him to Thomasville to keep training.
McQueen is also known to get angry whenever his biggest rivals (Chick Hicks in Cars, Francesco Bernoulli in Cars 2, Jackson Storm in Cars 3) taunt and belittle him, which further increases his desire and desperation to win races against them. In Cars 2, McQueen was especially happy to beat Francesco in the second race in the World Grand Prix in Italy. He was also so desperate to beat Storm in an early race in Cars 3 that he forces Guido to go faster in the pits and quickly goes back on the track. After Storm taunts him again, McQueen pushed himself as hard as possible to catch up with him, and, not recognizing his own speed limits, resulting in his major crash. However, thanks to Smokey, he understands that can never be faster than Storm, but can be smarter than him. By the end of the film, McQueen seems to understand his speed limits, and decides to keep racing by training Cruz Ramirez, whom he realized has what it takes to be a racer. He temporarily took a break from racing and he trained Cruz Ramirez for sometime. After Cruz became good at racing, McQueen continued, but it is unknown when McQueen continued racing. He still races on the Piston Cup circuits today and is winning most of his races.
Lightning McQueen is a 2006 Custom-Built Piston Cup Racing stock car (a mixed NASCAR with some tweaks).
- Top speed: 200 mph - 322 kph
- Acceleration: 0 to 60 mph (100 kph): 4 seconds (was 3.2 at the time of Cars 2)
- Engine: NASCAR V8
- Drivetrain: Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive layout (RWD)
- Horsepower: 750HP
- Fuel System: Carburetor.
- Fuel type: Organic Biogasoline, American Ethanol
- Transmission: Stock Car Regulation 4 Speed + Reverse (Automatic)
- Brakes: Vented, air-cooled, cast-iron disc brakes on all wheels, 4-piston front and 2-piston rear caliper.
- Suspension: Coil-over shocks (Rear), Double Wishbone (Front)
Lightning also has air flaps on his roof to prevent flipping. Lightning's body is built from 24-gauge Cold-rolled Sheet Steel, and chassis has a high strength tubular frame. Like most Stock Cars, Lightning has no visible doors on his body, and has no external rear-view mirrors, as stock cars' mirrors are placed in the frame next to where the door would be. As is Stock Car regulation, he has a quick-fill fuel cap on his left side (although he has one on both sides in Cars 2 and its related Media. Lightning has all his chassis and undercarriage exposed in every piece of Cars media except those relating to Cars 2. Lightning has no visible grille; and has a high-speed adjustable racing fin on his rear. Until Cars 2, Lightning had no headlights, just stickers in place of them, like most other stock cars.
- His racing number, "95", is a reference to the year 1995, when Pixar's first feature-length film, Toy Story was released. Originally, his number was going to be 57, which references 1957 the year John Lasseter, the director of the first two Cars films, was born.
- Lightning's last name "McQueen" is a reference to Glenn McQueen, a supervising animator at Pixar who died in 2002.
- Lightning McQueen is unique among other Pixar protagonists, as he does both lose and then win; he gave up the Piston Cup to Chick Hicks so he can help The King finish his last race, but the loss was meant as a lesson for him, as he learned from Doc Hudson that there are more important things in life than winning, and his heroic act made him earn applause from his fans. Therefore, despite losing, McQueen is still considered the winner in the eyes of his fans and his new friends from Radiator Springs due to the actions of Chick Hicks.
- In the first official teaser trailer of Cars 2, for unknown reasons, Lightning McQueen has on his original Rust-eze customization, which never appeared in the sequel. It may be because the new paint job wasn't finalized at the time of the release of the teaser trailer.
- Likewise, in the first teaser trailer for Cars 3, McQueen is sporting the original Rust-eze logo when he crashes, unlike the final film with the same scene. His first paint job in the film likely wasn't finalized either at the time of the trailer's release.
- Lightning, along with other countless versions of him, have been released in the Cars, Cars Toons, Cars 2, and Cars 3 Die-Cast Lines.
- According to a Storytellers Book, Lightning's original sponsor before Rust-eze was Smell Swell, however, he still had the number 95.
- In Toy Story 3, in the Caterpillar Room at Sunnyside Daycare, you can see one of the kids with a white T-shirt with red sleeves and has in the middle of the shirt the 95 racing number with the lightning bolt of Lightning McQueen. A toy similar to Lightning can also be seen.
- Lightning's back bumper is yellow. This follows NASCAR's tradition of putting yellow rookie stripes on rookie drivers' cars.
- Lightning's design was inspired by NASCAR stock cars, and a more curvaceous Plymouth Superbird, 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona, and with some slight cues from the Ford GT40, Lola, and Porsche 911.
- ALL of Lightning McQueen's engine sounds come from NASCAR, including all his revs. In Cars, his sound comes from a Gen 4 NASCAR (could be a Chevy Monte Carlo, Ford Taurus, Pontiac GP or Dodge Charger). In Cars 2, his sound comes from a Chevy Impala SS, Ford Fusion, or Toyota Camry NASCAR from 2010 or 2011. In Cars 3, his sound comes from a Gen 5 NASCAR, which could also be a Chevy SS, Ford Fusion, or Toyota Camry NASCAR.
- There are lies and rumours that he has some other sounds from a Cobra or street supercar.
- After Lightning's redesign in Cars 2, he has working headlights instead of stickers. However, Sally still calls him "Stickers." His headlights still get removed in Piston Cup races and get patched up, like in Cars 3.
- In Tokyo, an advertisement for a vacuum cleaner named "Lightning McClean" is seen. Even in the Rust-Eze Racing Center
- Lightning has several names in other languages:
- His Spanish name is Rayo McQueen. In Spanish, "rayo" means "lightning", "beam" or "ray."
- His French name is Flash McQueen.
- In Polish, he is called Zygzak McQueen. (z-ih-g-z-ah-k) The word "zygzak" means "zigzag" in Polish.
- His Danish name is Lynet McQueen. The Danish word "lynet" means "the lightning."
- His Dutch name is Bliksem McQueen. The Dutch word "bliksem" means "lightning."
- His Hebrew name is "ספידי מקווין" (spidi mekwin, "Speedy McQueen"). "ספידי" is a transliteration of "Speedy", and he is named after the Warner Brothers character Speedy Gonzales.
- His Italian name is Saetta McQueen. The Italian word "saetta" means "flash of lightning."
- His Swedish name is Blixten McQueen. The Swedish word "Blixten" means "the flash."
- His Albanian name is Vetëtima McQueen. The Albanian word "Vetëtima" means "lightning."
- His Portuguese name is Faísca McQueen. The Portuguese word "faísca" means "spark."
- His Finnish name is Salama McQueen. The Finnish word "salama" means "lightning bolt."
- His Hungarian name is Villám McQueen. The Hungarian word "villám" means "lightning".
- His Czech name is Blesk McQueen. The Czech word "blesk" means "lightning".
- His Estonian name is Pikne McQueen. The Estonian word "pikne" means "lightning".
- His Hindi name is Bijalee McQueen. The Hindi word "bijalee" means "lightning", "roar", "thunderbolt", "bolt".
- Lightning and his girlfriend Sally appear in Radiator Springs Racers as audio-animatronics who greet guests in their ride vehicle. They announce the qualities that a racing champion needs and who can provide the tire changes by Luigi and Guido or paint refreshes by Flo and Ramone, while the computer controls the way that the ride vehicle turns into each character's business.
- Lightning McQueen has 14 different paint variants, ranging from subtly different amounts of dirt and dust to the completely new paint jobs near the end of the film.
- In Planes: Fire & Rescue, Mayday uses Lightning's famous catchphrase: "Ka-chow!", although the home video subtitles say that he is sneezing.
- A 1:55 scale die-cast of Lightning McQueen, along with Chick Hicks and Brush Curber, is used for one of the exhibit elements at The Science Behind Pixar.
- Lightning McQueen was used in the Jumping Tiles and Jumping Arrows game on Novel Games on September 10, 2019.
- In the children's book Struck by Lightning, it is revealed that "Lightning" is simply a nickname, and that his actual first name is Monty.
- In Cars 3, it was mentioned that McQueen got his first win in Glen Ellen Speedway during his rookie debut.
- In Cars 3, McQueen never said his signature phrase: "Ka-chow."
- In Cars 2: The Video Game (DS version), Nigel Gearsley calls Lightning McQueen by ''Mr. McQueen''.
- —Lightning McQueen's catchphrase.
- —Lightning McQueen's secondary catchphrase.
- Dusty Rust-eze: "Ladies and gentlemen..."
Dusty and Rusty Rust-eze: "...Lightning McQueen!"
Car Voice: "Freebird!"
- —Dusty Rust-eze and Rusty Rust-eze announcing Lightning McQueen
"Okay. Here we go. Focus. Speed. I am speed. (Cars zooming past). One winner. Forty-two losers. I eat losers for breakfast."
From Cars 2
- Lightning McQueen: "Mater!"
Mater: "Hey, McQueen! What happened? Is the race over? You won, right?"
Lightning McQueen: "Mater, why were you yelling things at me while I was racing?"
Mater: "Yellin'? Oh, you thought... Oh! That's funny right there. Naw. See,t hat's 'cause I seen these 2 fellers doing some sort of karate street performance. It was nutso. One of 'em even had a flamethrower."
Lightning McQueen (confused): "A flamethrower? What are you talking about? I - I don't understand. Where were you?"
Mater: "Going to meet my date."
Lightning McQueen: "Your date?"
Mater: "She started talkin' to me as a voice in my head, tellin' me where to go. . ."
Lightning McQueen: "What?!"
Mater: "Wait a minute. I didn't screw you up, did I?"
Lightning McQueen (furious): "I LOST THE RACE BECAUSE OF YOU!"
Mater: "Oh well... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to... "
Lightning McQueen: "Your imaginary girlfriend? Flamethrowers?! You know-- this is-- this is exactly why I don't bring you along to these things!"
Mater: "Maybe if I, O I don't know, talk to somebody, and explain what happened, I could help..."
Lightning McQueen: "I don't need your help! I don't want your help!" (drives away; the press turns to McQueen)
Reporter: McQueen, you had it in the bag!
Another reporter: Yeah, what happened?
Lightning McQueen: I-I made a mistake. But I can assure you, it won't happen again.
Reporters (going nuts and saying random things like wild animals)
Lightning McQueen: Look, people we know what the problem is, and we've taken care of it.
Reporters (going nuts and saying random things like wild animals, as Mater drives off, looking sad and guilty)
- —McQueen gets mad at Mater for causing him to lose the race.
- Uncle Topolino: "Hey, race car. You look so down, so low. Is like you have flat tires."
Mama Topolino: (something in Italian)
Uncle Topolino: "She said, you look like you are starving, that she's gonna make you a big meal and fatten you up."
Lightning McQueen: "Oh, no. Uh, Mama Topolino, please, you don't need to make a fuss. . ." (sighs as Mama Topolino drives into the building)
Uncle Topolino: "Capisco (Italian for 'I see'). I understand. Is a problem, yes, between you and a friend?"
Lightning McQueen: "How did you know that?"
Uncle Topolino: "A wise car hears 1 word and understands 2. . . That, and Luigi told me. While Mama cooks, come and take a stroll with me."
Lightning McQueen: "I brought my friend, Mater, along on the trip, and I told him he needed to act different that we weren't in Radiator Springs."
Uncle Topolino: "This Mater is a close friend?"
Lightning McQueen: "He's my best friend."
Uncle Topolino: "Then why would you ask him to be someone else?"
Lightning McQueen: (thinking for a moment) "What did I do? I said some things during our fight."
Uncle Topolino: "You know, back when Guido and Luigi used to work for me, they would fight over everything. They fight over what Ferrari was the best Ferrari, which one of them looked more like a Ferrari. There were even some non-Ferrari fights. So I tell them, 'Va bene (Italian for 'It's okay'), it's okay to fight. Everybody fights now and then, especially best friends. But you got to make up fast. No fight more important than friendship.'" (during what Uncle Topolino said, Luigi and Guido were fighting over who should dance with the girl, then another girl came, and they danced one with one girl)
Uncle Topolino: (something in Italian)
Lightning McQueen: "What does that mean?"
Mama Topolino: "'Whoever find a friend, find a treasure.' Now, mangia (Italian for 'eat'). Eat!"
(Uncle Topolino and Mama Topolino drive away, conversing in Italian)
- —Uncle Topolino gives Lightning some wise advice.
- Mater: "I get it. I get it! I know what needs to be done!"
Lightning McQueen: "Then do it!"
Mater: "What? No, I can't do it. Look, nobody takes me seriously, I know that now. This ain't Radiator Springs."
Lightning McQueen: "Yes it is. Look, you're yourself in Radiator Springs, be yourself here. And, if people aren't taking you seriously then they need to change, not you. I know that because I was wrong before. Now, you can do this. You're the bomb."
- —Lightning gives words of wisdom to Mater in London.
From Cars 3
- Cruz Ramirez: "Why are you doing this? This might be your last chance."
Lightning McQueen: "Which makes it my last chance to give you your first chance, Cruz. This time I want you to take it."
- —McQueen convinces Cruz to finish the Florida 500 race for him, after realizing that she has what it takes to be a racer.
- Lightning McQueen: "Kid's got a lot of stuff, eh Doc?"
Sally: "Well, she had a great teacher. And now you get to decide when you're done racing. So what's it gonna be, Stinky, uh, Stickers?"
Lightning McQueen: [Laughs] Oh, I'm gonna keep racing. But before that, I got something I wanna do."
- —McQueen decides to keep racing, presumably in the form of training Cruz Ramirez.
From Cars 2
From Cars Toons
From Cars 3
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