Sunday, August 14, 2022

What Happened to Doc Hudson? – 2018 Update

Among the more popular Pixar series to come out of the last decade, Cars brought to life, well, cars. With quirky personalities, the traditional Pixar hero arc, and some fantastic animation work, Cars quickly became a huge hit including its sequel, Cars 2 and even the newer Cars 3. However, there has been on character missing from the newer releases of the Cars series: Doc Hudson. So what happened to Doc, both canonically and for his voice actor Paul Newman? Let’s find out.

What’s Doc Hudson Doing Now in 2018? – Recent Updates

As of the 2017 release of Cars 3, Doc Hudson did not appear as a character within the storyline. While certainly a fan favorite as a minor character, Pixar’s animation, and story team had no intent on picking him back up. Why? Well, this is where Doc’s tale takes a bit of a tragic turn. As many people know, Doc Hudson was played by Paul Newman in the original Cars film. This was somewhat fitting for the actor, as we will cover in the About Doc Hudson section. But after his role as Doc Hudson, Paul Newman would pass away in 2008 as a result of a prolonged battle with lung cancer, surrounded by family and loved ones. After hearing about his death, the Pixar team decided it would be best to not try and re-tool Doc Hudson as a character, instead of keeping him exclusively for the passed actor that had done so much for so many in his life. In terms of canon, the Cars movies never state that Doc is dead, per se. Instead, they merely only refer to him in the past tense, and while he does show up in Cars 3, he does so only in flashbacks (which were made due to prerecorded lines of the late Newman). It is shown that his office is turned into a museum, or perhaps better termed, a memorial. It is very likely that the flashbacks in Cars 3 will be the very last time Doc Hudson is seen in the Cars series.

About Doc Hudson

In terms of inspiration, Doc Hudson was primarily inspired by 1951 Hudson Hornet which is a model of car that could bring together three very unlikely groups of people: Hot Rod enthusiasts, Fallout 4 fans, and of course Cars fans. Built to comfortably seat 6 in the age of stainless steel and pontoon style, the Hornet was big, luxurious, and for the time was about as fine a car to drive in as it was to ride. Doc Hudson was, in fact, made after a very specific 1951 Hudson Hornet, which was driven by Herb Thomas of NASCAR fame and dubbed the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet”. As of current date, the Hornet in question is on display at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, located near Detroit, Michigan. Not only the appearance of the car is similar, by the way, but also the racing record of Doc Hudson and Herb Thomas both share very similar statistics. So, with the perfect mix of old school appearance and racing speed, the Pixar designers were content with how Doc looked, but who would voice him? When it came to the voice actor who took the role of Doc Hudson, few were better equipped than Paul Newman. Paul had come from a long acting career, starting first on Broadway but making his first TV appearance in 1954 alongside Frank Sinatra before having his first Hollywood film the same year, The Silver Chalice. He would spend a majority of his life acting, though he would also find time to found the Newman’s Own Foundation, the Scott Newman Center (a drug rehabilitation facility in honor of his late son), and most importantly for our story, do a little professional racing. Starting out after finding his gift for high speeds and sharp turns through the film Winning in 1969, Newman would start competing in professional races including several 24-hour races such as the Le Mans 24 hour race and the Daytona 24 hour race. In his professional career, he would win multiple division titles and in 1979 came in 2nd in a Le Mans 24 hour race, running in a Porsche 935. Among his most amazing accomplishments in racing was that he was the single oldest person (at 70 years, 8 days) to compete in a Daytona 24 hour race, and ending up winning in his class in 1995. Through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s he would also form the Freeman Newman racing team which ended up being very tough competition for even the most seasoned Can-Am racers. By the year of his passing in 2008, he was still racing (though his last professional race was the year prior) and still performing to an amazingly high degree. This played into Doc Hudson’s warm, coaching character all too well, and made his advice on racing in dirt vs asphalt all the more believable.

Cody Carmichael
University graduate in Psychology, and health worker. On my off time I'm usually tinkering with tech or traveling to the ends of the globe.
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