The World Grand Prix (often shortened to WGP) is a racing competition in Cars 2 around which all the events of the film revolve. It was set up by former oil tycoon Miles Axlerod, and reunited the best racers supposedly to determine the world's fastest car and promote his new alternative fuel, Allinol. However, behind this facade the competition was actually a conspiracy whose true goals were much more ambitious and devious. Designed by Axlerod with the criminal Lemons group, it aimed at discrediting definitively alternative fuel to safeguard the domination of conventional fuel. This conspiracy was discovered by Finn McMissile, who worked behind the scenes to expose it, with the contribution of Mater and Holley Shiftwell.
The competition reunited the best racers from all racing types to determine the fastest car in the world. 11 racers were either invited or selected through qualification races (such as Rip Clutchgoneski). One of them was Lightning McQueen.
The World Grand Prix was meant to be larger than and unlike any sports event before. Set at a grandiose scale and enjoying enormous publicity, it took place in some of the most prestigious cities across the world. It was composed of three legs; the first race took place at Tokyo, Japan, the second at Porto Corsa, Italy, and the final at London, United Kingdom. All three races were set in the streets of the host city. Each circuit was designed to incorporate various terrain types, like a dirt section, or tight curves, giving cars from drastically different racing types a chance of equality. All racers used Allinol as their only fuel, except for Lightning McQueen who had his swapped out with Fillmore's organic biofuel because Sarge didn't trust oil companies.
However, the true aim of the competition was not to make Allinol a success but to make it the worst failure possible. Allinol was not in fact an alternative fuel, but it was gasoline that had been designed to explode when exposed to a strong electromagnetic pulse, making it highly dangerous. Such a pulse was designed by Professor Z and disguised in a camera that was used during each race. The Lemons used it to cause the engines of certain racers to explode, making it look as if the fuel had spontaneously exploded. By showcasing at such large scale the failure of the ultimate alternative fuel Allinol seemed to be, Axlerod hoped to discredit alternative fuels and therefore definitively kill their competition to conventional oil. The plan was worth the cost, as the Lemons had secretly secured the largest untapped oil reserves in the world, ensuring that the world would have to depend on them for fuel supply.
First Leg: Tokyo
The WGP started off with a welcome party in the Tokyo National Art Center, where Axlerod officially introduced the racers and his competition to the world. The following day, the first race took place at night in the streets of Tokyo.
Francesco Bernoulli, the favorite for the competition, was unable to keep up in the dirt section, which McQueen used to his own advantage to get in first position for most of the race. However, McQueen made a major error after misunderstanding his pit crew chief Mater, enabling Bernoulli to take the lead in the final minutes. After 52 laps completed in 48 minutes 27 seconds, Bernoulli narrowly beat McQueen and took the first place. Carla Veloso came in third position, followed by Shu Todoroki in fourth and Nigel Gearsley in fifth. Three racers, Miguel Camino, Rip Clutchgoneski and Max Schnell suffered engine explosions and failed to finish the race. The inexplicable accidents raised questionings on whether Allinol was to blame, something Axlerod vehemently denied.
Second Leg: Porto Corsa
The second leg took place in Porto Corsa, Italy, a few days later. Axlerod claimed an independent study had shown Allinol was harmless, and in spite of the worrying results of the previous race, maintained it as the race's fuel.
This time again Bernoulli and McQueen battled the entire race for the first place. In the last minutes of the race, Veloso and Gearsley saw their engine explode and crashed one after the other as they passed on the casino bridge. Shortly after, Shu Todoroki had an engine explosion at the same place. The other racers were following closely behind and a huge pile-up ensued. Only the last two racers, Jeff Gorvette and Lewis Hamilton, avoided crashing.
After 60 laps completed in 55 minutes and 18 seconds, McQueen and Bernoulli reached the line again side by side, but this time McQueen won. However, his victory was overshadowed by the catastrophe that had involved seven of the eleven racers, and the race was a disaster. At this point the public had no doubt that Allinol was responsible, leading to a massive outcry. Axlerod, apparently devastated, announced that Allinol would not be required for the final race. However, McQueen, against all odds, stated he would use Allinol anyways.
Third Leg: London
All racers had recovered from their previous problems and were able to participate in the final race in London, England. As both Bernoulli and McQueen had won one race and been runner-up in the other, this race was to be the title-deciding race. The Queen herself and other dignitaries including Prince Wheeliam attended the event. All racers used conventional fuels, while McQueen remained the only racer to use Allinol. Hidden in Big Bentley, the lemons unleashed the full power of the electromagnetic pulse on McQueen, but much to their surprise, nothing happened. They switched to plan B, which consisted of getting Mater, on whom a bomb had been secretly implanted, to reach McQueen, so that McQueen would be unwittingly killed by his best friend. Mater entered the race track and went to McQueen's pit stop. McQueen noticed him and tried to reach him, following what Mater fled driving backwards. McQueen reached to Mater's hook at the precise moment Mater activated his booster rockets, sending both vehicles out of the track at tremendous speed.
Later, the duo came back, this time in flight, and landed at the finish line at Buckingham Palace in front of the Queen. The crowd realized with horror Mater had a time bomb on his hood, and a great confusion ensued. Nevertheless, Mater succeeded to publicly expose Axlerod as the mastermind behind a conspiracy surrounding the World Grand Prix.
Following Mater's revelations in London, the World Grand Prix, now seen as the massive scam it was, was simply left without an end with no winner declared. Axlerod was arrested by the British police, while McMissile, the Radiator Springs folks, and the British army neutralized the other major Lemons leaders. Axlerod's conspiracy had been a failure, and precipitated the downfall of the Lemons organization.
Some time later, all former World Grand Prix racers were invited by McQueen to a friendly Grand Prix set in Radiator Springs, to give the unique competition a more proper end. The winner wasn't revealed, although it could be implied that McQueen did win the race.
- Originally, the World Grand Prix was to be composed of five races. Paris would have hosted a "Le Mans-style 24-hour race", and in Germany's Black Forest, a "DTM-style rally race" would have taken place. But these races were abandoned because it was too much story to tell. However, in the Nintendo DS version of Cars 2: The Video Game, they do appear.
- According to the country, the name "World Grand Prix" changes languages; for example, in Italy: Mondiale Grand Prix; in Japan: ワールドグランプリ (Wārudoguranpuri). There are also exceptions; for example, in Polish.
- The World Grand Prix has a mascot whose name was revealed to be Globie.
- There are no pit stops witnessed in any of the races but they are available such mentioned by Acer.
- London was chosen as one of the host cities of the World Grand Prix to coincide the 2012 Summer Olympics that would be held a year later.
- Although Lightning McQueen had not joined the World Grand Prix yet, you can see him forming the globe in the ad on The Mel Dorado Show. However, it could have been finished with every racer that was invited before Lightning declined the invitation. But even then, it is inconsistent that he appears with his World Grand Prix customizations, which he hadn't then. It could be that they had McQueen's World Grand Prix customization planned before he declined the invitation in the Tokyo race, Lightning McQueen has logically on his racing wheels. However, in one scene, when the start lights are showing, McQueen is seen with his party wheels on instead of his racing wheels. In the rest of the race, he has his race wheels on.