- Directors: John Lasseter, Co Director, Joe Ranft
- Writers: Story, John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Jorgen Klubien, Brenda Chapman, Screenplay, Dan Fogelman, John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Kiel Murray, Phil Lorin, Jorgen Klubien, Additional Screenplay, Robert L Baird, Daniel Gerson, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Steve Purcell, Dan Scanlon
- Genres: Animation, Comedy, Family, Sport
- Actors: Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, John Ratzenberger, George Carlin, Jenifer Lewis, Cheech Marin, Michael Keaton, Paul Newman
The last race of the Piston Cup stock car racing season ends in a three-way dead heat between retiring veteran Strip “The King” Weathers, perennial runner-up and dirty fighter Chick Hicks, and the self-centered rookie Lightning McQueen. A tiebreaker race is scheduled for one week later at the Los Angeles International Speedway. McQueen, eager to start practice in California as soon as possible in order to become Piston Cup champion and take The King’s place as the sponsored car of the lucrative Dinoco team, pushes his driver Mack to travel all night long. Mack tries to avoid falling asleep, but becomes a victim of a gang of reckless street racers, subsequently causing the sleeping McQueen to roll out of the back of the truck unnoticed. Waking up in traffic, McQueen speeds off to find Mack, but becomes lost and ends up in the run-down town of Radiator Springs. A mishap with the local sheriff causes McQueen to inadvertently tear up the town’s main road. McQueen is arrested then tried the next day by the town’s judge and doctor, Doc Hudson, who at first wants him to leave immediately; at the insistence of local lawyer Sally Carrera, Doc instead sentences him to repave the road as community service.
As the race begins, McQueen’s thoughts keep drifting back to Radiator Springs and he is distracted from performing well. However, he is surprised to discover that his new friends have come to serve as his pit crew, with Doc â€” once again outfitted in his old racing colors â€” as chief. Cheered by their presence and their incredible pit stop speed, and using tricks he learned during his time among them, McQueen is able to counter Hicks’ dirty driving tactics and take the lead. On the final lap, Hicks purposely rams The King aside, causing him to veer off the track and end up in a terrible wreck. Just short of the finish line, McQueen stops, letting Hicks win the race, and backs up to push The King the rest of the way across the finish line, helping him to complete his final race. Hicks is shunned and booed off the awards ceremony stage despite his Cup victory, while McQueen is praised by The King and his wife, Dinoco, and the press and crowd for his sportsmanship. He is offered the Dinoco sponsorship but turns it down, saying that he would rather stay with the team that brought him this far. McQueen returns to Radiator Springs and decides to move his team’s headquarters there, helping to revitalize the town and its businesses, much to the pleasure of his new friends.