|First appearance||Cars (2006)|
|Last appearance||Cars Race-O-Rama videogame|
|Created by||John Lasseter|
|Voiced by||Paul Newman (first film, first video game)
Corey Burton (all other materials)
|Based on||Fabulous Hudson Hornet of NASCAR|
|Species||Hudson Hornet motorcar|
|Occupation||MD, judge, former racer|
Doc Hudson ("Dr. Hudson" or simply "Doc") is an animated, anthropomorphic retired race car who appears in the 2006 Pixar film Cars as a medical doctor and a local judge. Voiced by actor Paul Newman, he is modelled after a 1951 Hudson Hornet.
Doc Hudson (voiced by Paul Newman in his last non-documentary film, Corey Burton in the video games except Cars: The Video Game) is Radiator Springs' local physician. His license plate read 51HHMD, which is a reference to his year and track number (51), model (Hudson Hornet) and profession (medical doctor). A racer-turned-mechanic, the character has Newman's blue eyes.
Doc's stickers say "twin H power", which was an optional dealer-installed dual carburetor intake manifold, with twin 1-barrel carburetors and air filters. It was standard on 1952 model Hornets. Doc was once known as the Fabulous Hudson Hornet (#51), one of the most famous race cars to have ever lived; he won three Piston Cups, and he still held the record for most wins in a single season (27, also the number of NASCAR Grand National races won by Hudson Hornets in 1952.) All that changed for the famous Hornet when a terrible crash on the track during the final lap of the 1954 Piston Cup championship race saw him put out for the season in a career-ending injury which closely parallels the fate of Herb Thomas, NASCAR's 1951 and 1953 champion. Upon his return, he was received with a complete absence of fanfare and told that he was a has-been who had been passed up for the next rookie in line. He kept a newspaper article on the career-ending crash as a reminder never to return to the life that nearly killed him.
Jaded by the racing scene, he left that world, apparently taking out time to study medicine. The famous No. 51 disappeared into obscurity, leaving many wondering where he had gone. He instead opted for a simple navy blue paint job and the life of a physician in the tiny town of Radiator Springs, the "shining Gemstone" of the Mother Road – Route 66. He runs Doc's Clinic as a "doctor of internal combustion". As times changed and the town was bypassed by Interstate 40, Doc stayed on, even when the population had dwindled to a meager dozen or so residents. He is respected, well-loved, and served not only as the town's physician, but as its judge. Nobody in the town has any idea of his past as a racer, knowing him merely as an ordinary Hudson Hornet.
Upon meeting the rookie hotshot Lightning McQueen, Doc sees far too much of the past he'd left behind. His one token attempt to explain a controlled skid on an abrupt turn in dirt-track racing to Lightning is met with misunderstanding and skepticism, leaving Doc disillusioned and bitter about the young hot rod who seems to care only about himself.
"This ain't asphalt, son. This is dirt. You don't have three-wheel brakes, so you got to pitch it hard, break it loose and then just drive it with the throttle. Give it too much, you'll be outta the dirt and into the tulips. I'll put it simple. If you're goin' hard enough left, you'll find yourself turnin' right."—Doc Hudson explaining drifting to a skeptical McQueen
He is less than happy when an amazed McQueen discovers his past and asks, "Why did you quit at the top of your game?" After McQueen finishes fixing the Radiator Springs road that he damaged when arriving in town, as part of Hudson's court ruling, McQueen decides to stay in town for a while, but Doc is unable to bear having him around any longer and calls the news and press, prompting McQueen to immediately leave for the Piston Cup. Seeing how disheartened everyone is by his unplanned departure, Doc takes back his #51 racing colors to become McQueen's pit crew chief. Nearly the entire town travels to the Piston Cup as Lightning's pit crew. At the Piston Cup, Doc finally receives his long awaited fanfare for his return.
At the end of the film, Doc keeps his racing colors, becoming a trainer as well as a friend to the young McQueen. Just like McQueen, Doc learned some lessons: friendship, promises, how greed affects others, and that secrets cannot be kept forever. When a racing museum subsequently opens in Radiator Springs, one entire wing is devoted to his racing career. Much as Junior #8 acknowledges to "The King" that "you've been an inspiration to me", The King indicates "the Hudson Hornet was my inspiration".
The car is based on the real-life Fabulous Hudson Hornet in NASCAR competition, with Doc's racing career most closely resembling that of Herb Thomas. Newman, a racing enthusiast and former driver, drew upon his experiences for the grumpy old race car's personality. The character has strong parallels to the Doc Hollywood of a 1991 film and shares the "Doc" moniker with the late Walter "Doc" Mason, interviewed on Route 66 as research for the film. A close friend of Michael Wallis (the voice of "Sheriff"), country veterinarian Dr. Walter S. Mason Jr. owned the Tradewinds Courtyard Inn from 1963 until 2003 and donated land for the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton. Doc Mason died in June 2007 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease. After his demise the inn, which once hosted Elvis Presley went into a steep decline, losing its Best Western membership and receiving many highly-negative reviews.
The original Hudson Hornet was introduced in 1951 and manufactured until 1954. Fabulous Hudson Hornets won NASCAR cups for three consecutive years (Herb Thomas in 1951 and 1953 and Tim Flock in 1952); these three trophies are seen stored in Dr. Hudson's garage in the film. The Hudson Motor Company was merged into Nash Motors on January 14, 1954 to form American Motors Corporation (AMC). After brief use as a marque on Nash-designed AMC vehicles, the Hudson name disappeared entirely by 1957. The automaker continued until its March 9, 1987 takeover by Chrysler, but never won another NASCAR championship cup.
The "Fabulous Hudson Hornet" name, which appeared on three famous NASCAR entries between 1951 and 1954, vanished once Hudson was merged into AMC. Herb Thomas #92 raced Buick and Chevrolet cars in 1955; severe injuries in a 1956 racing wreck in Shelby effectively ended his career, despite two unsuccessful starts in 1957 and one in 1962. Tim Flock #91 switched to Ford cars in 1955; he was one of two drivers forced out of NASCAR after supporting a 1961 unionisation attempt, the Federation of Professional Athletes. Marshall Teague #6 left NASCAR after the 1952 season in a dispute with NASCAR's owner Bill France, Sr.; he was killed in a 140-mile-per-hour (225 km/h) rollover collision at Daytona on February 11, 1959.
Paul Newman, who provided the voice of Doc Hudson, died from lung cancer in September 2008; Pixar decided having Doc appear in Cars 2 would be inappropriate. A conversation between McQueen and Mater indicates that Doc died before the second film. Doc's memory lives on, as the Piston Cup was renamed after him. During the Japan leg of the World Grand Prix, commentators note that Doc was widely considered one of the best dirt-track racers in the world.
Herb Thomas' 1952 Fabulous Hudson Hornet is currently displayed in the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum in Michigan; Tim Flock's car is in the Memory Lane Museum in Mooresville, North Carolina. Herb Thomas entered NASCAR's hall of fame for 2013 as the first to win two NASCAR premier series championships (1951 and 1953).
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