The Piston Cup is a racing trophy that appears in the Disney/Pixar Cars franchise. It is part of the Piston Cup stock car racing circuit, which is awarded to the winning racer. The Piston Cup is so named because it is in the shape of a piston.
It began at the Motor Speedway of the South, where The King, Chick Hicks, and Lightning McQueen tied three-way. A tiebreaker 200-lap race was held a week later, at the Los Angeles International Speedway. The King initially held the lead, followed closely by Chick, but Lightning quickly fell behind as he was thinking of his friends at Radiator Springs. However, they came to serve as his pit crew and cheered him on, given him the confidence to catch up to his rivals. In the final lap, Lightning takes the lead, and Chick, fed up with coming second to The King, deliberately sends him rolling off the speedway, causing him to crash violently. Lightning sees this and stops at the finish line to go back and help The King, letting Chick win instead. Lightning then helped The King cross the finish line, allowing them both to finish with dignity. A total of 36 cars competed in the series and 3 tracks are known.
Chick Hicks was the official winner of the race, but his fans and media were outraged and upset at his behavior on the track and booed him for being a cheater and ramming The King. They pelted Chick with debris, fired confetti at him instead of using it as a victory celebration, forcing him off the stage in humiliation. Lightning was cheered and hailed for his good sportsmanship on the track.
In Cars 2, this cup was renamed the Hudson Hornet Piston Cup in memory of the deceased Doc Hudson, a former Piston Cup racer.
Lightning McQueen's design in the movie incorporates the design of the new Piston Cup on his hood rather than the Rust-eze logo.
In the new season, the racecars, including new rookie Jackson Storm, race at the Motor Speedway of the South, Grandol Oil Co. Raceway, Copper Canyon, BnL Raceway, and Rustbelt Raceway. At one point, McQueen and Cruz Ramirez use a former circuit, called the Thomasville Speedway, to do some practice.
It's also revealed that Chick Hicks still owns the Piston Cup trophy he won in the first movie. He presents his trophy when hosting his show, Chick's Picks with Chick Hicks.
- As of now, five characters from the Cars universe have won the Piston Cup; Doc Hudson won three titles from 1951 to 1953, Strip "The King" Weathers won seven titles, Chick Hicks won one title (though his victory was rendered meaningless due to his aggressive actions), and McQueen currently has the record of seven Piston Cups won by The King. Later, Jackson Storm would win his first title during the events of the third film. In real life, Darrell Waltrip won three titles while Dale Earnhardt Jr won two titles from 1998 to 1999, though it is not mentioned if their car counterparts have won titles prior to the events of the first film.
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