"Cars" is about a hot-shot race car named Lightning McQueen attempting to achieve fame on the racing circuit. In his endeavors, he encounters new friends who help him achieve his dream.
"Cars" begins with Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson, finishing the Piston Cup championship in a three-way tie with Strip "The King" Weathers, voiced by Richard Petty, and Chick Hicks, voiced by Michael Keaton. A tiebreaker race is scheduled, and McQueen, desperate to win, sets off with his big rig, Mack, voiced by John Ratzenberger, in search of assistance. However, on their journey, McQueen is arrested for destroying a road and is impounded by a tow trunk named Mater, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy.
McQueen is ordered by Judge Hudson to leave the town, Radiator Springs, immediately. Sally Carerra, voiced by Bonnie Hunt, argues that McQueen should be given community service instead, to which the judge agrees. As McQueen repairs the road over the next few days, he becomes fast friends with the local cars, and they support him in his endeavor to win the tiebreaker race. It is revealed that Judge Hudson is actually the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, a former racing star. At the race, Hudson appears as McQueen's crew chief, along with other local cars McQueen met while in Radiator Springs.
McQueen takes an early lead in the race against Weathers and Hicks, and he looks like a shoe-in to win. However, Hicks runs Weathers off the road in a desperate attempt to catch McQueen. Hicks wins the race, as McQueen stopped racing to rescue Weathers and bring him to the finish line. Despite winning, Hicks is condemned by the spectators, and McQueen is lauded for his sportsmanship. The film ends with McQueen setting up headquarters in Radiator Springs.