How far is Darlington, "the pearl of the Pee Dee," from Radiator Springs, "the cutest town in Carburetor County"? Maybe a lot closer than you think.
The small Route 66 town featured in Disney's hit film Cars, which values history and tradition above glitz and glamour, seems not too far removed from another small town located on South Carolina's Highway 151.
One of the movie's animated stars, Doc Hudson (voiced by legendary actor Paul Newman), is on the surface a quiet and curmudgeonly country doctor who runs Radiator Springs' local "medical clinic" (mechanic shop), and fills in as the town judge when needed.
Though he's a car of few words, Doc is respected and admired by the townsfolk. Before the checkered flag falls and the credits roll on Cars, the secrets of his past are revealed, and he teaches central character Lightning McQueen valuable lessons that be applied both on and off the track: There is much more to racing than winning, and life is about the journey, not the finish line.
In the movie, Doc is a blue 1951 Hudson Hornet, His real-life counterpart, the blue "Fabulous Hudson Hornet" that Herb Thomas drove to victory in the 1951 Southern 500, is part of the classic collection in the Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum.
Doc's fans have discovered his current address. "We've been getting phone calls every day since the movie opened, and lots of parents have brought their kids in to have their pictures taken with 'Doc.' They get so excited; it's been a lot of fun," said Vicki Sanders, who manages the museum and adjoining gift shop.
The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum and National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 843.395.8821.
For more information on the film, visit www.carsthemovie.com.