DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Daniel Suarez had a pillow he slept on as a teenager. It had the image of the “Cars” movie character Lightning McQueen on it.
Now 25 years old, the Mexican driver will get to share the screen with one of his boyhood idols. Danny Swervez will be his name.
Suarez, Ryan Blaney (Ryan “Inside” Laney), Chase Elliott (Chase Racelott) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (Bubba Wheelhouse) will join eight other NASCAR personalities in the “Cars 3” film, which comes out this summer.
“In my bedroom in Mexico, I have a ton of little cars of McQueen. I have a pillow with McQueen,” said Suarez, who as a kid watched the original “Cars” movie dubbed in Spanish as well as in English with subtitles. “I’m a huge fan.
“You guys have no idea how happy I am to be side by side with this [show] car. It is amazing.”
Former drivers Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon as well as promoter Humpy Wheeler – all who have appeared in previous Cars films – will have roles in the new film, as will former driver Kyle Petty, former crew chief Ray Evernham and broadcasters Mike Joy and Shannon Spake.
“It was neat to go watch when I was young, and I’ve always been a fan of [the movies],” said the 23-year-old Blaney. “It’s really, really neat to be part of something that you really enjoyed as a kid.”
The partnership between Disney Pixar and NASCAR will include a youth STEM educational initiative and movie merchandise sold at the track on race weekends.