Lightning McQueen 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.
Lightning McQueen is built for speed and has just two things on his mind: winning, and the perks that come with it. In his fast-paced life he has little time for anything or anyone, but who needs friends when you have a stadium full of fans?
In Cars, at first, McQueen is obnoxious and rude to everyone, but one night, on the way to Los Angeles, CA, he is accidentally separated from his transporter, Mack, after a quartet of tuner cars bump Mack's trailer, causing the racecar to fall out. When McQueen 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, McQueen is put on trial, where Doc Hudson, the judge, want him out of town at first, but eventually changes his mind and has McQueen be forced to fix the road as punishment. While McQueen is still trying to fix the road, he eventually starts to know more about Radiator Springs and its inhabitants, including befriending a tow truck named Mater and falling in love with a sports car named Sally Carrera, who owns the Cozy Cone Motel. McQueen then eventually realizes that Doc Hudson is actually a former racecar whose career ended after Doc suffered a severe accident one day and won four Piston Cups prior, and that Radiator Springs was once a popular tourist attraction but eventually lost popularity due to the construction of Interstate 40. Shortly after fixing the road, McQueen decides to stay at Radiator Springs much longer to help everyone out, only for Mack and several camera cars to eventually find him and send him to Los Angeles so that he can participate in the race. During the race, Lightning McQueen immediately performs several moves that Doc (now his crew chief) showed him during a race against him at Willy's Butte.
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 Dinocosponsorship.
In 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.
With a fresh custom paint job and real, working headlights, Lightning sets off to Japan, Italy and England with Mater in tow for the adventure of a lifetime. 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. McQueen gets mad at Mater and claims that he doesn't need or want his help anymore, causing the tow truck to go on his own adventure as a spy. When he was in Porto Corsa, he learns from Uncle Topolino that he has been too harsh on Mater and should accept him for who he is. In the middle of the race in London, 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.
Along the way, Lightning realizes what Mater is: Not the perfect crew chief, and not the world's best spy, but his best friend. He searches for Mater and finally finds him on the race track, scared to take action. But Lightning convinces his friend to continue his unfinished spy work. And in the end Lightning decides to treat Mater better...and to start taking racing advice from him.
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 leaving, often followed by the characters and/or references from Mater's stories, implying that the stories might be real. Here, McQueen 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.
Cars: The Video Game
In Cars: The Video Game, Lightning McQueen finds himself at the start of the next Piston Cup season. With the help of the citizens of Radiator Springs, McQueen readies to start his quest for the Piston Cup, taking lessons in powersliding from Doc, boosting from Fillmore, and racing backwards from Mater. With his skills, Lightning once again makes a championship run in the Piston Cup, much to the irritation of Chick Hicks, who hates him. Fearing his title is in jeopardy, Chick enlists the assistance of The Delinquent Road Hazards — DJ, Boost, Wingo, and Snot Rod — the same rowdy cars who detoured McQueen to Radiator Springs, to hijack McQueen's racing gear from Mack on Interstate 40. Lightning is able to retrieve the goods and bring the delinquents to justice before winning the next race, which sends Chick into a frenzy. Lightning challenges Chick to a Grand Prix in Radiator Springs, followed by one more Piston Cup race in LA. Lightning wins these events, taking the Piston Cup in his sophomore season. At the end, Lightning, Mater, and Sally decide to take a celebratory trip across the country. When asked if he brought his trophy, Lightning notes he did not, but left it in a good place, at Doc Hudson's clinic next to the legend's own three Piston Cups. Though Lightning McQueen is still sponsored by Rust-eze, players are able to unlock McQueen with a Dinoco paint job while playing as him in Story Mode, Arcade Mode, and VS. Mode.
Cars: Mater-National Championship
In Cars: Mater-National Championship, Lightning McQueen is the playable character during story mode. Lightning is still in the making of his Racing Headquarters, and to celebrate, he is holding the International Championship - until Mater announces to the world that it is the "Mater-National" because he forgets the name. As the story moves on, Lightning meets new international racers, including Gudmund, Otto, Koji, Emma, and Giovanni, who become his friends, but also his opponets.
In Cars: Race-O-Rama, Lightning is helping out at the Doc Hudson Racing Academy, and is racing against them in a competition at Radiator Springs Speedway. After Lightning sees how the green racers are behaving, he confronts them, only to find out that they are being trained by none other than Chick Hicks. As the story continues on, Lightning meets more of Chick's goons, who he befriends after they turn on Chick and apologize for acting badly.
In arcade mode, Lightning is unlocked as a playable character from the start of the game.
Cars 2: The Video Game
In Cars 2: The Video Game, Lightning is a playable character, and is one of the ten characters unlocked from the beginning the game. He also has two other skins, Carbon Fiber Lightning and Radiator Lightning, which can be unlocked by earning specific badges and crests. There are also several other skins that can be downloaded in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game.
Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure
In Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure, he appears in the first Cars level, where he is looking for a new car in his racing team, which is the player. But first, the player has got to try out, so he/she has to pass the Tow Mater Fancy Drivin' Challenge. Mater says that he designed the course specially so that only the best drivers in the whole world can finish it. McQueen says that he's got great confidence, and that if Mater says you're good enough, that's good enough for him, before Mater says that it's what the Tow Mater Fancy Drivin' Challenge says, not himself. The player follows Mater through the course before in the ending cutscene, Mater says to the player that he/she is awesome, before McQueen says that Mater's right and that was some of the best driving he's ever seen, before saying to the player that they're going to be a great addition to his team. Holley Shiftwell then appears saying that was a impressive display. Mater then introduces the player to Holley, explaining that she's his girlfriend. Holley then says that their friend, the player, would make an excellent racer, but an even better spy, and that they have a mission that is perfect for the player's speed and talents, before saying that is if McQueen doesn't mind waiting, before Mater says that McQueen can wait, before he asks McQueen if he will. He then answers, "Well, who am I to interfere with British Intelligence?" He also becomes playable in the levels when the player collects 4 hidden Buddy Coins in each level in the hidden areas and heights.
In Disney Infinity, Lightning is one of the four playable characters from the Cars franchise. As with the other Cars characters, Lightning's abilities are drifting and using turbo, which consists of one extra square than with generic cars such as Mr. Incredible's sports car.
As the main character of the Cars series, Lightning appears in nearly every book, comic, and magazine ever written, most of which he has a lead role in.
Lightning McQueen also appears in Cars Land with his girlfriend, Sally Carrera. They greet the theme park guests who board the cars on the ride, Radiator Springs Racers in which they act like sportscasters.
He can be seen driving through Radiator Springs in his World Grand Prix paint job. However, in Radiator Springs Racers, he is in his Cars paint job. He and Sally will welcome the theme park guests in the ride car to the race when you arrive in Radiator Springs, and either tell you to go into Luigi's Casa Della Tires or Ramone's House of Body Art for either a tire change or a paint refresh. After the race, he and Mater will congratulate the guests for winning. Mater says that "you beat McQueen!" Lightning replies to Mater and says he wasn't racing. Mater tells Lightning McQueen that "you can't win if you don't race!" There are other phrases used.
Originally cocky and self-centered, Lightning's personality was changed into a caring and nice person with lots of friends - to which he is very loyal and kind. Though nice and pleasant, Lightning can be a bit selfish and self-centered sometimes. He is also brave, courageous, and daring.
His model was originally painted red, with green Smell Swell stickers. Later, his doors were re-painted with yellow and orange lightning bolt decals. He had the number 95 painted in red, orange and yellow on his roof and doors, as well as the Rust-eze logo on his hood and spoiler. After being accepted into the World Grand Prix, Lightning minorly changed his paint job - he now has the Hudson Hornet Piston Cup logo on his hood, and a raised red spoiler. He continues to wear this, as seen in Time Travel Mater.
Lightning's model is a hand-built racing car, built for racing purposes specifically. He is a mix of a stock car and a more curvaceous Le Mans endurance racer. He has modifications like a red spoiler, and for a short time did not have headlights, only stickers. He 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 engine is a V-8, having a horsepower of 750. His 0-60 speed is 3.2 seconds, and his top speed is 200 mph.
Fans say that he either resembles a modified Dodge Viper GTS-R, Ford GT40 or a tuned Mazda MX5. McQueen's appearance bears very little resemblance to modern NASCAR sedans. He instead resembles a C6 Corvette, but using NASCAR technology.
McQueen's two-tone design appears to be an homage to the C1 Corvette, complete with whitewall tires.
Lightning is a Piston Cup champion race car known all over the world for his quick and skillful style of racing. He has won four Piston Cups over the years, and is currently working on his fifth. After his fourth win, he was accepted into the World Grand Prix, a championship involving 11 racers, each from a different part of the world. After he finished, he presumably went back to the Piston Cup.
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.
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 (Ford GT40).
After Lightning's redesign in Cars 2, he has working headlights instead of stickers. However, Sally still calls him "Stickers".
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: "Yelling? Oh, you thought... Oh! That's funny right there. No, see. That's 'cause I seen these 2 fellers doing some 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 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: "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, talk 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 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, arguing in Italian)