DisReguardian: Is Lightning McQueen the GOAT? An Expert Analysis

Image courtesy of Loren Javier on Flickr.
Image courtesy of Loren Javier on Flickr.

Editor’s Note: The following is a satirical article for The DisreGuardian, a series of articles published annually for The Guardian’s April Fool’s issue. Sports will resume publishing normal content next week.

 

When you think of the GOAT, you think of Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Serena Williams, me, etc. But what about Lightning McQueen? Despite his seven Piston Cups, he has never been subject to a GOAT conversation.

 

However, in November, Stephen A. Smith, a known Cars expert and “a guy who yells about sports,” was asked a question about this topic. 

 

His response shook the internet. In a tirade, Smith announced on his show that McQueen was not the GOAT, and it was instead Strip “The King” Weathers, the racing legend who won seven Piston Cups over the course of three decades. This angered McQueen fans everywhere, who acknowledged that, while Weathers won an equal number of Piston Cups as McQueen, the dominance that McQueen had in the late 2000s to early 2010s was unmatched. It took Weathers three decades to win seven Piston Cups; it took McQueen only one.

 

While I can confidently say that McQueen’s performance in the Piston Cup Series makes him the best stock car racer ever, how does he fare against open-wheel competition? In the critically acclaimed spy thriller “Cars 2,” McQueen competes in the World Grand Prix, a competition that somehow manages to have worse leadership than Formula 1. 

 

In this competition, he faced open-wheel cars for the first time in his career. In the Tokyo Grand Prix, McQueen finished a disappointing second behind Francesco Bernoulli, the Italian Formula 1 driver. However, he did perform better than Lewis Hamilton (yes, that Lewis Hamilton). In the other two races of the series, several cars blew up because of the super-sketchy fuel, so we won’t focus on those. But in this inaugural race, McQueen was clearly inferior to Bernoulli. And while team principal Mater did screw up the strategy, the blame should fall on the driver. Although McQueen did prove that he could keep up with the best of the best, he couldn’t prove that he himself was the best of the best. Based on his performances, I think it’s fair to say that he is not the greatest racer ever, but still the greatest stock car racer ever.

 

While McQueen may have the accolades to be named GOAT, does he have the mentality? The GOATs of other sports have that winning mindset. Jordan famously “took that personally” and Brady infamously deflated some footballs, but has McQueen shown that same drive to win? In “Cars,” McQueen led in the final lap of the Piston Cup season in Los Angeles but chose to let Chick Hicks win in order to help out Weathers. The same happens in “Cars 3,” where he chooses to have Cruz Ramirez take his place because she “dreams of racing.” These acts of “empathy” prevented him from winning two more Piston Cups and solidifying his GOAT status. Instead, he has proven he lacks the drive and mentality to really be known as the greatest of all time.

 

The status of the Piston Cup GOAT should remain vacant for now until someone worthy rises up in “Cars 4,” which will probably happen since Disney loves squeezing every last cent out of their intellectual property. But someone will rise — maybe it will be Jackson Storm, maybe it will be Cruz Ramirez, maybe it will be another new character to serve as an antagonist while Ramirez or McQueen is the underdog or something, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

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