Lightning is a red racecar sponsored by Rust-eze Medicated Bumper Ointment ("With Just a Little Rust-eze, you can look like Lightning McQueen!").
He is #95 in the movie, and at the beginning of the movie, he is racing his first Piston Cup race in Nashville, Tennessee, and is winning.
At the end of the film, he lost the race out of good intentions, and got a new paint job, but still sponsored by Rust-eze, although at the beginning of the film, he wanted a Dinoco sponsorship.
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 wasn't 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 leaves, often followed by the characters and/or references from Mater's stories, implying that the stories might be real.
Cars 2In the sequel, Lightning returns, but as a 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 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 latest win, Lightning returns home to enjoy life in the slow lane for a while with sweetheart Sally, best friend Mater and the rest of his Radiator Springs family. His off-season is unexpectedly cut short when Mater inadvertently prompts Lightning to enter the World Grand Prix, a high profile, three-part exhibition race that will take him around the globe.
Though nice and pleasant, Lightning can be a bit selfish and self-centered sometimes. He is also brave, courageous, and daring.
- —Lightning McQueen's 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
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 to me while I was racing?"
Mater: "Yelling? Oh, you thought, oh, that's funny right there. No, see, that 'cause I seen these 2 fellas doing something sort of karate street performance, it was nutso. One of 'em even had a flame-thrower."
Lightning McQueen: "A flame-thrower? 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 talking to me as a voice in my head telling me where to go. . ."
Lightning McQueen: "What?!"
Mater: "Wait a minute, I didn't screw you up, did I?"
Lightning McQueen: "I lost the race, because of you!"
Mater: "Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to. . ."
Lightning McQueen: "An imaginary girlfriend?! Flame-throwers?! This is exactly why I don't bring you along to these things!"
Mater: "Maybe if I, I don't know, talked to somebody, and explained what happened, I could help. . ."
Lightning McQueen: "I don't need your help! I don't want your help!" (drives away)
- —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 types, 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, arguing in Italian)
- —Uncle Topolino gives Lightning some wise advice.
- Top speed: 200 mph
- Zero to 60: 3.2 seconds
- Engine: V-8
- Horsepower: 750
Lightning has coil-over shocks with tubular A arm front suspension, a solid axle rear end and vented disc brakes at all four wheels. He also has air flaps on his roof to prevent flipping.
- 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 is the year John Lasseter was born.
- Lightning's last name "McQueen" is a reference to Glenn McQueen, a supervising animator at Pixar who passed away in 2002.
- In the first official teaser trailer of Cars 2, for unknown reasons, Lightning McQueen has on his 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.
- Lightning, along with other countless versions of him, have been released in the Cars, Cars Toons, and Cars 2 Die-Cast Lines.
- 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 stock cars, and a more curvaceous Le Mans endurance racers.
- After Lightning's redesign in Cars 2, he has working headlights instead of stickers.
- In Tokyo an advertisement for a vaccum cleaner named "Lightning McClean" is seen.
- His Spanish name is Rayo McQueen. In Spanish, "rayo" means "beam" or "ray."
- His French name is Flash McQueen. The French word "flash" means "flash."
- In Polish, he is called Zygzak McQueen. (z-ih-g-z-ah-k) The word "zygzak" means "zigzag" in Polish