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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

4257. Doc Hudson

Doc Hudson (voiced by Paul Newman in his last non-documentary film and by Corey Burton in the video games), also known as "Dr. Hudson" or simply "Doc", is Radiator Springs' local physician. His license plate reads 51HHMD (a reference to his year and track number (51) model (Hudson Hornet) and profession (medical doctor)). 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 racecars to have ever lived; he won three Piston Cups, and still holds the record for most wins in a single season (27, a reference to real-life Hornets winning 27 NASCAR races 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. 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 got bypassed in favor of Interstate 40, Doc stayed on, even when the population had dwindled to a meager dozen or so residents. He is respected, well-loved, and serves not only as the town's physician, but as its judge as well. However, nobody in the town had any idea of his past as a racer; he was just an ordinary Hudson Hornet to them.
Upon meeting the young hotshot Lightning McQueen, Doc saw far too much of his past in the rookie. He was less than happy when McQueen discovers his past. After McQueen finished fixing the road he damaged and decided to stay for a while, Doc was unable to bear having him around any longer and called the news and press to immediately take him away to the Piston Cup, declaring that it is best for everyone. But seeing how disheartened everyone was by his unplanned departure, Doc realized that McQueen had become more important to them than he thought. He eventually admits the truth to everyone about his Racecar days and he took back his old No. 51 colors to become McQueen's pit crew chief, bringing nearly the entire town (except Sally, Red, and Lizzy who watch the race on TV) to the Piston Cup to support Lightning as his pit crew (and in an ironic twist of fate, finally received that long awaited fanfare for his return). By the end of the film, Doc opts to keep his racing colors, and becomes 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. A racing museum subsequently opens in Radiator Springs and is named after him.
The car is based on the real-life Fabulous Hudson Hornet in NASCAR competition driven by Herb Thomas and Marshall Teague. Newman, a racing enthusiast and former driver, drew upon his experiences for the grumpy old race car's personality. Paul Newman died from lung cancer in September 2008. Pixar decided having Doc Hudson appear in Cars 2 would be inappropriate. A conversation between McQueen and Mater indicates that Doc passed away before the second film. However, Doc's memory lives on, as the Piston Cup was renamed after him. During the Japan leg of the World Grand Prix, the commentators note that Doc was widely considered to be one of the best dirt-track racers in the world.

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