WARNING: This contains spoilers.
Please note: This rewrite is a work in progress.
Cars 3 is the third and currently most recent film in the Cars franchise, and was released in 2017. In this film, Lightning McQueen, who is now a seven-time Piston Cup champion, faces his biggest competition yet in the form of Jackson Storm, a rookie with a very high top speed who uses high-tech simulators to train for his races. Storm’s rise to fame becomes an immense inspiration to other next-generation cars, and one by one, McQueen is forced to witness his veteran friends be replaced by younger and faster racers, voluntarily or otherwise.
During the final race of the 2016 Piston Cup season, McQueen finds himself in a relatively decent second place, but refuses to finish behind Storm again. He pushes himself too hard because of this, and forgoes racing for four months. But eventually, McQueen realizes he doesn’t want to end up in the same boat as his mentor, Doc Hudson, who was no longer welcome back into the racing world after suffering a crash of his own. McQueen and Mack both head down to the brand-new Rust-eze Racing Center and McQueen finds out that the Rust-eze Brothers are selling Rust-eze in hopes that McQueen’s new sponsor, Sterling, will possess the technology that’s adequate enough for McQueen to train on in order to beat Storm.
When the big day comes for McQueen to race at the Florida 500, his farewell race, he rises up the ranks, outperforming just over half of the other racers. However, he doesn’t finish the race. What he ends up doing is forfeiting the win and sends somebody else in his place. That somebody else is Cruz Ramirez.
Ramirez was McQueen’s friend and trainer, and throughout the course of the movie, struggled to keep up with McQueen at first. However, Ramirez improved over time so much that by the end of the movie, McQueen could no longer keep up with her for more than a few seconds. This, combined with the fact that Ramirez never had the chance to experience a real race, is what caused this relay. Despite starting out almost a lap behind, Ramirez ended up trumping Storm, winning the entire race, and became the new face of Dinoco while wearing Doc’s #51.
However, despite the movie feeling just right according to director Brian Fee, hundreds of fans (myself included) disliked this movie’s ending. Many were left feeling dissatisfied by the fact that McQueen was never able to prove everybody who called him an old man wrong, and that the time and effort he put into his training was all for naught. Which is why today, I have decided to attempt to piece together my own fanfiction ending of Cars 3 where McQueen wins. This ending combines the “More Than New Paint” scene, the “Storm’s Over” scene, and some writing from the original movie. Enjoy!
McQueen prepares to race against Ramirez (acting as a Storm decoy) one final time before departing to Florida. As this is happening, Shannon Spokes interviews a few rookies and gathers their thoughts.
Ryan Laner: McQueen’s still not here? Didn’t he pull this when he was a rookie?...at least that’s what my grandfather told me.
Smokey: Alright! We got time for one last race.
Mack: Hurry this along, boss! We gotta get you to Florida!
Guido waves a green flag. McQueen and Ramirez both take off.
Bubba Wheelhouse: Maybe it’s best if he doesn’t show up. Y’know, after how last season ended?
McQueen starts to make up ground.
Chase Racelott: Let me put in this way. I’m not losing any sleep wondering where Lightning McQueen is.
McQueen slowly catches up to Ramirez.
Smokey: C’mon, boy. C’mon!
McQueen, now right on Ramirez’s tail, begins to draft for a few seconds before passing her.
Smokey: (satisfied) Ah, look at that. There ya go, boy. There ya go!
McQueen feels a sense of pride, and manages to hold on to his lead for the rest of the lap. Guido waves the checkered flag as McQueen beats Ramirez. McQueen is awestruck.
Lightning McQueen: (proud) Wow...I did it! I actually did it! Man...where has drafting been all my life?
Mack: Hey, uh...boss? Hate to interrupt, but it’s time to hit the road.
Smokey, River, Louise, and Junior watch McQueen leave, with the former wearing a smile on his face. After a few hours, Mack, McQueen, and Ramirez arrive at the Florida International Speedway. Before starting the race, a confident McQueen meets up with Sterling.
Lightning McQueen: Sterling! Hey, I’m here! Hello?
McQueen does some more searching before Sterling arrives.
Sterling: There he is!
Lightning McQueen: Ayyy, Sterling! Sorry about the last-minute arrival, but you are not gonna believe these last few days! It worked! All of it! Getting my tires dirty, old-school training...this one race you gave me today—
Sterling: It’s not gonna happen.
Lightning McQueen: (shocked) Wait, what? What’d you say?
Sterling: I’m not letting you race.
Lightning McQueen: W-we had a deal!
Sterling: (sighs) It’s the best thing for you. Don’t you realize who you are?...the biggest brand racing has ever seen.
Lightning McQueen: (confused) Brand?...I’m not a brand.
Sterling: (chuckles) Are you kidding?! The second you retire, you’ll be worth two, three times what you could make on the track. Oil, tires, all kinds of endorsements. As a fan, I want all of this for you.
Lightning McQueen: (upset) Tires? Oil?! We had a deal!
Sterling: We did. But then your numbers started coming back from your trip.
Lightning McQueen: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Numbers?
Sterling: Your suit! I was tracking your speed, your agility, on the beach, on the road. And then...we noticed how your numbers compare with Storm.
Lightning McQueen: (quietly) Storm...
Sterling: I mean, I saw him all the time breaking record after record. And Lightning, the numbers he’s been putting up these last couple weeks...well, I have never seen anything like it! And he’s been getting better by the day. There’s very little doubt in my mind that Storm’s gonna win this one today. You can now move much quicker into phase two of your career now that you’re retired!...I’d be a fool not to do this.
Lightning McQueen: Hey, what are you doing?! St—
Two of Sterling’s henchmen, who both resemble Not Chuck, each rip off one of McQueen’s 95 stickers.
Lightning McQueen: Hey! No! You can’t do that!
Sterling: I’m sorry. I knew how much you’d wanna race today. I took your name off the 95 license. Now, go home. Get some rest. You’ll feel better about things in a few days.
Everybody notices McQueen’s long face as his missing stickers almost immediately.
Mater: Huh? Wait a minute...
Sally Carrera: Oh no...
Lightning McQueen: They quit on me. (frustrates sigh) I was ready. I...I know I was...
Bob Cutlass: Fans, this is just in. We don’t have all the information yet, but we do know Lightning McQueen will not be racing today. Let me repeat, Lightning McQueen will not be racing today.
This news disheartens McQueen fans across the stadium. Tex Dinoco is as surprised by this revelation as anybody.
Young McQueen Fan: M-McQueen’s not gonna race?
Mater: They can’t do that!...Can they do that?
Mater spots something out of the corner of his eye. Carrera and McQueen both turn around and see Sterling talking and shaking tires with Storm. Sterling drives off before Storm grins.
Lightning McQueen: (disgusted) Great. Now what?
Tex Dinoco: (heartily) Lightning McQueen!
McQueen turns around and sees Dinoco.
Tex Dinoco: Dinoco’s been waiting 11 years for you not to have a sponsor.
Lightning McQueen: (ecstatic) Tex!
Smokey: And I’ve been waiting 63 for someone to wear a number that’s been tucked away a little too long.
Lightning McQueen: Smokey! Did you do this?
Smokey: Tex and I go way back. But the question is, “Are you ready to do a lil’ racing?!”
Lightning McQueen: (revs engine) Just watch me.
Tex Dinoco: Yeeeeeeeeeeehaw!
Natalie Certain: I’ve never seen the numbers line up for Storm like they do today, Bob. Between his phenomenal lap times and these ideal track temperatures, Storm should be 96.8% unstoppable!
Bob Cutlass: W-w-wait a minute. I’m getting word Lightning McQueen may have found a way back into this race. And it has something to do with that old rascal, Tex Dinoco!
Miss Fritter: Muddy britches! Nobody better even think about changing that channel!
McQueen emerges, now sporting the iconic Dinoco blue, as well as the #51 in memory of Doc.
Bob Cutlass: Racing fans! The 43rd and final spot in today’s race, running for the Dinoco racing banner, join us in welcoming back to Florida one of racing’s all-time greats, Lightning McQueen!
The crowd goes wild as McQueen makes his way into the pits.
Young McQueen Fan: LIGHTNING MCQUEEN!
Mater, who is also now wearing Dinoco blue, cheers McQueen on.
Mater: Get ‘er done, 51! (hollers)
McQueen lets out a chuckle.
Bob Cutlass: What a turn of events, folks! Lightning McQueen, wearing the 51 of his friend and mentor, The Fabulous Hudson Hornet!
Louise Nash: (satisfied) I didn’t think I’d ever see that again.
Bob Cutlass: So, uh, Natalie, uh, having any second thoughts?
Natalie Certain: Nope! My data is rock-solid. Sorry to tell you this, but it takes a lot more than new paint to win a race.
McQueen makes his way to the back of the pack, but not before having one last chat with Storm.
Jackson Storm: Well, it’s complete. You’re as slow as he was, and now you even look like him. You gonna race like the old man too?
Lightning McQueen: Y’know what? I hope I do.
Once McQueen settles into his spot, he sees Carrera.
Sally Carrera: Hey, do me a favor. Show ‘em how the old men roll!
The race starts with everybody in position. McQueen still doesn’t feel entirely confident, but regains it back once he hears a young fan screaming his name.
Darrell Cartrip: Boogity boogity boogity! Let’s go racing!
With the green flag being woven, all of the racers accelerate and the race commences. McQueen passes a few racers with relative progress, and soon, makes his way into the top 20.
Bob Cutlass: Lightning McQueen is making steady progress...
McQueen continues to pass more racers as the race continues into lap 51.
Smokey: Not too shabby! Keep this up, you’ll finish in the top ten!
Lightning McQueen: Top ten’s not gonna cut it, Smokey. I gotta go all the way.
All of the racers zoom by the pits. McQueen begins to reminisce on iconic moments from his races, from Guido’s legendary pit stop at the Piston Cup tiebreaker, to McQueen’s comeback against Francesco Bernoulli in Italy. However, there’s a sudden snap back to reality as a wreck occurs on the track.
Smokey: Wreck in two. Wreck in turn two! Go low, go low!
McQueen skillfully avoids the wreck, similarly to how he avoided the wreck caused by Chick Hicks at the Dinoco 400.
Lightning McQueen: Smokey, I think I’ll have to pit soon.
Smokey: Are you sure?
Lightning McQueen: Yes. I’m positive.
McQueen makes his way into the pits.
Guido replace McQueen’s tires.
Lightning McQueen: Tex, I’m not sure if I can do this. Do you think you have another engine I can use or something?
Tex Dinoco: Why, I thought you’d never ask! Guido, catch!
Dinoco tosses an engine to Guido, and the latter replaces said engine off-screen. All that is seen is Luigi with his jaw dropped.
Lightning McQueen: (revs new engine loudly) Yeah, that’ll work! Now to get back out there.
McQueen exits the pits and ends up in the middle of the pack.
Bob Cutlass: The green flag is out and we’re back to racing!
McQueen starts to have difficulty passing the other racers.
Smokey: Uh...kiddo? Just pretend something’s after ya.
Lightning McQueen: (to himself) Miss Fritter. That could work.
McQueen begins to accelerate.
Smokey: Ok, but now I think you’re a little tight.
Lightning McQueen: Ok, ok. (breaths) Fluffy cloud, fluffy cloud.
Smokey: (to himself) What is that boy going on about... (to McQueen) Try sneaking through the window!
McQueen envisions the rest of the racers as tractors and passes a few of them, making his way into 15th place. After another pit stop, it’s now dusk. McQueen makes very good progress, but not to the point where Storm is concerned.
Smokey: Alrighty. Now you’re coming up on the leaders.
The race is now on lap 491, and McQueen is in the top five. Storm momentarily forfeits his lead to Daniel Swervez, and has a discussion with McQueen.
Smokey: What are you doing, Storm?
Jackson Storm: Hey, champ! You know, you can try and act like you’re still young, but you’re just not one of us anymore.
Storm smirks as he regains his lead.
Smokey: Don’t let him get in your head, kid. If you can’t outrace him, you can outthink him.
McQueen smiles and accelerates yet again.
Jackson Storm: How far back is he now?
Storm’s crew chief: Look behind you!
Jackson Storm: Huh?
Storm sees McQueen drafting on his tail.
Lightning McQueen: Hey, Jackson!...Storm’s over.
Storm let’s put a scream of frustration as McQueen passes him, and crosses the finish line first.
Bob Cutlass: I don’t believe it! It’s Lightning McQueen for the win!
The crowd goes wild as McQueen feels immense pride.
Young McQueen Fan: Lightning McQueen!!!
Louise Nash: Way to go, kid!
Miss Fritter: That’s my Whipplefilter!
Daniel Swervez: Hey, Lightning! You were flying.
Lightning McQueen: Thanks!
Chase Racelott: You really had it rolling today.
Ryan Laney: That was cool.
Lightning McQueen: Ah, thank you.
Smokey: Well? Aren’t you gonna give them somebody donuts?
McQueen happily spins in circles, but is interrupted by Sterling.
Sterling: Lightning! I knew you had it in you. Look at you. You beat Storm!
McQueen rolls his eyes.
Sterling: You know I was just kidding with all of that—
Lightning McQueen: Save your breath, Sterling. I wouldn’t race for you if you were the last sponsor on Earth.
Tex Dinoco: Well, then, race for me!
Lightning McQueen: Tex! What’d ya think?
Tex Dinoco: Lightning, you know I’d still be tickled pink to have you race for Team Dinoco. As you know, we have a long history of great racers...except for Cal.
Cal Weathers: Um...guys? I’m still right here.
Lightning McQueen: I appreciate it, Tex, but there’s someone I know who would be an even better racer for you than me. Name’s Cruz Ramirez.
Ramirez is speechless by this revelation.
Sterling: Yeah, that’s cute and all, but remember Cruz works for me?
Cruz Ramirez: (quickly) I quit.
Sterling lets out a disgusted groan and leaves.
Tex Dinoco: Oh, really? Well, how’s about you and I have a little talk, Cruz?
Cruz Ramirez: Alright! Let’s do it.
McQueen watches Ramirez and Dinoco walk away.
Lightning McQueen: Kid’s got a lot of stuff.
Sally Carrera: Well, she had a great teacher. And now you get to decide when you’re done racing! So, what’s it gonna be, Stinky...er, Stickers?
Lightning McQueen: Eh, I think it’s time I be done with racing. But, there is something I think would be cool...
Everybody from both Radiator Springs and Thomasville gathers at Willy's Butte to see McQueen and Ramirez race.
Luigi: Welcome all, to Historic Willy’s Butte!
Mater: Get ‘er done, 51!
Ramirez strolls onto the track wearing Dinoco blue and the #51, just like McQueen.
Cruz Ramirez: Hope you got your drip pan.
Lightning McQueen: Got my drip pan and I’m taking my nap.
Cruz Ramirez: Bring it on, old man.
Lightning McQueen: Luigi?
Luigi: (waves green flag) Go!
Both of them take off. A picture of the two of them racing is taken, which is a near-perfect recreation of Doc and McQueen from after Cars 1.