|First appearance||Cars (2006)|
|Created by||John Lasseter|
|Voiced by||Bonnie Hunt|
|Based on||Dawn Welch of the Rock Café in Stroud|
|Species||Porsche 996 motorcar|
|Occupation||town attorney, hotelier|
|Significant other(s)||Lightning McQueen|
In the film, Sally owns the Cozy Cone Motel, a newly refurbished tourist court similar in design to the Wigwam Motels but with each individual motel room constructed as an oversized traffic cone. She has cones all around her shop, inside and out; even the lamps, planters and alarm clocks follow the theme. Neon lighting at the Cozy Cone, one of the first historic restoration efforts in Radiator Springs, displays the "100% Refrigerated Air" slogan of Tucumcari's historic US 66 Blue Swallow Motel.
"It's really pretty simple. I was an attorney in LA. livin' life in the fast lane and well, that was my life. And you know what? It never felt happy. So I left California. Just drove and drove and finally broke down right here. Doc fixed me up, Flo took me in. Well, they all did. And I never left."— Sally Carrera, Cars
Sally is a 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera on a slightly-shortened wheelbase and has a pinstripe tattoo on her back. Pixar had initially wanted a classic Porsche for the rôle, but were convinced by Bob Carlson at Porsche to make her the latest model. Pixar's animators, modellers and sound crews obtained access to real Porsche 911-series vehicles to meticulously create an animated Sally who looks, moves and responds in a similar manner to the original automobile.
"It's the nicest body I've ever had on film. I'm telling you, it's a luxury. I really thought they were going to cast me as a Buick."
According to director John Lasseter. "Sally is the one modern car in the town of Radiator Springs. She's beautiful. It's interesting that people mostly think of a Porsche as powerful and a guy's car, but the lines on a Porsche are so beautiful that it fits perfectly for the character of Sally."
Her character is modelled on Dawn Welch of the historic Rock Café on U.S. Route 66 in Oklahoma, an advocate of the promotion and restoration of Stroud, Oklahoma after the town had been both bypassed by the Turner Turnpike and heavily damaged by a 1999 F3 tornado. Welch had long travelled cross-country promoting Route 66 and rallying support for keeping it alive. Like Sally, Dawn Welch is a relative newcomer to U.S. Route 66, having left the travel industry to purchase the Rock Café in 1993 and list it on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Originally, Sally was going to be a Ford Mustang. However, they made her a Porsche since the grill looked more "lady like." She also, at one point, originally resembled a Porsche 993.
"We met people out on Route 66 and we’re thinking, at first, ‘What are you doing here? You’ve travelled the world. You’re educated. You speak three languages. But you run a restaurant out in the middle of nowhere.’ But then, after an hour of having dinner with this person, you think, ‘Wow, this is perfect. I’m so glad you’re here because you’re keeping it alive.’"
Sally is instrumental in convincing the local judge to direct McQueen to repair the town's Main Street, a section of the now-bypassed U.S. Route 66, as a community service obligation upon his conviction in traffic court. Sally often calls Lightning McQueen "Stickers", at first because of his fake headlights and later as a friendly nickname. Her desire that McQueen stay to assist in rebuilding the town places her at odds with Doc's intransigence that "I want him out of my courtroom. I want him out of our town!", motivated by his desire to break all ties with a racing community which once abandoned him.
Sally leads McQueen on a leisurely drive on picturesque but serpentine mountain roads through Tailfin Pass to the vacant Wheel Well Motel, an abandoned motor court and filling station near a scenic lookout point with a wide panoramic view of Ornament Valley, Radiator Springs and the entire surrounding region (including US 66 and I-40). Surrounding scenery strongly resembles Arizona landmarks such as Havasu Falls near Grand Canyon National Park or Monument Valley.
She explains the history of the town with a nostalgic flashback, describing the two-lane Route 66's busy heyday and the construction of the parallel but unconnected six-lane I-40; the fact that it would not connect with Radiator Springs was unknown to the exited locals, who were expecting a new influx of visitors. The disappearance of cars from Main Street on the new highway's completion is every bit as abrupt as that (described to the film's makers by Arizona businesspeople Angel and Juan Delgadillo) when I-40 opened in Seligman on September 22, 1978. When Interstate 40 is completed, US 66, Radiator Springs and Ornament Valley are all seen to simultaneously vanish from road maps as all highway traffic on 66 disappears and local businesses close, their business names fading into the underlying brickwork.
Forty years ago, that Interstate down there didn't exist. Back then, cars came across the country a whole different way. Well, the road didn't cut through the land like that Interstate. It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved. Cars didn't drive on it to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.— Sally Carrera
Lamenting that "the town got bypassed just to save ten minutes of driving", she often wishes to have seen the community in its heyday. Her efforts are devoted to historic restoration and tireless promotion of "Radiator Springs, the glorious jewel strung on the necklace of Route 66, the mother road". The town has been without clients for years, even though there are no services on the new road. As the task of rebuilding is huge (the Rock Café, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, represented a $60,000 restoration effort) she needs to convince a long-demoralised local populace not only that the town can be fixed but also that "we're a town worth fixing" and that "someday, we'll find a way to get this place back on the map".
Her ultimate objective is to get the once busy and neon-lit 1950s main street rebuilt to its former historic glory and obtain much-needed publicity for the town to restore "Radiator Springs" to highway signage and "Historic Route 66" to standard printed road maps. Sally serves as a vehicle to deliver a message which individual small towns, historic preservationists, route 66 associations, chambers of commerce, route 66 businesspeople and various long-time fans of the mother road have tried to convey for many years since US 66 became a decommissioned highway in 1985, largely removing the route from maps.
After the big race is complete, McQueen and Sally rebuild and reopen the Wheel Well as a bed and breakfast, restoring the historic 1930s fuel pumps to its forecourt. (A third motel in the area, the long-abandoned "Glenn Rio Motel", is shown briefly but does not return as a motel.)
- Mike Hanlon (March 26, 2006). "Disney's cute Porsche - Sally Carrera".
- "A-List Auto Shop". Popular Mechanics. October 1, 2009.
- Ann M. Job (May 7, 2006). "New movie rekindles love affair with cars". Newhouse News Service.
- Daniel Schorn (February 11, 2009). "Bonnie Hunt Is Revved Up In 'Cars'". CBS News.
- Lori Bedingfield (June 9, 2006). "Sold on Cars". Jacksonville, Florida Times-Union.
- "Oklahoma Businesswoman and Route 66 Promoter Dawn Welch Honored by State Senate". Oklahoma State Senate. February 4, 2010.
- David Hanigar (August 2006). "Dawn Welch, the Little Blue Porsche". Edmond Outlook.
- Larry Edsall; Valerie Höhne (August 2006). "Goodbye, Mustang Sally – Hello, Sally Carrera!". Christophorus Magazine (Porsche AG). pp. 72–78.
- "Sally (Cars character description)". Disney. misidentifies the Wheel Well Motel as the "Wheel Wagon Motel", presumably a reference to the Wagon Wheel Motel on US 66.
- Ron Warnick (June 9, 2006). "A Route 66 guide to the "Cars" movie". Route 66 News (blog).
- Pauline Arrillaga (May 29, 2011). "At 84, one man is still the 'guardian angel' of Route 66: Angel Delgadillo". Associated Press.