Why Cruz Ramirez Means So Much To Me

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The other day my boyfriend decided to put Cars 3 on for some sweet background noise. And just like that, I found myself sitting on the couch sucked into the movie viewing experience. I don't know if you've yet viewed Cars 3 (what are you waiting for?!) but it definitely provides some great closure to the Lightning McQueen storyline.

In Cars 3, you are introduced to the character Cruz Ramirez. She is a strong, super positive, and fiesty race car trainer. Over the course of the movie, you learn a bit more about her story and motivations. From the moment she is introduced I felt a strong pull to her character in particular. Not just because I loved her personality. I also resonated from how she got to where she is at the point you meet her.

If you still haven't gotten to watch Cars 3 please stop reading now and go to Netflix and watch it, it's worth it.

Alright, let's get back to it.

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There are two particular scenes that really get to me every time. The first is during a training segment for Lightning McQueen. At this point in the movie he is recovering from a car crash and trying to get himself to be faster. Cruz tags along and Lightning starts to inadvertently teach her things that he has learned throughout the years. After Cruz wins a demolition derby they entered into unexpectedly she gets really excited about winning her very first racing trophy. Lightning, who is super focused on a career he doesn’t want to see disappear, snaps at her for “slowing his training down” and that she is hindering his ability to get better and he accidentally breaks her trophy when it falls over in his rage.

Cruz demands they stop and she snaps at Lightning

Cruz: Ask me if I dreamed of being a trainer, Mr. McQueen, go ahead! Ask me if I got up, in the dark, to run laps before school every day! Ask me if I saved every penny to buy a ticket to the races when they came to town. Ask me if I did that so that I could be a trainer someday. Ask me.

Lightning: [brief pause] Did you--?

Cruz: NO! I've wanted to become a racer forever! Because of you! [Lightning is shocked; Cruz is now heartbroken] I used to watch you on TV — flying through the air. You seemed so ... fearless. "Dream small, Cruz." That's what my family used to say. "Dream small, or not at all." They were just trying to protect me. But I was the fastest kid in town, and I was going to prove them wrong.

Lightning: What happened?

Cruz: When I got to my first race, I figured it out.

Lightning: What?

Cruz: That I didn't belong. The other racers looked nothing like me. You know... they... they were bigger, and stronger, and so... confident. And when they started their engines, that was it. I knew I'd never be a racer. I just left. It was my one shot, and I didn't take it. [Lightning becomes remorseful; as she decides to leave] Yeah, so, uh... I - I'm gonna head back to the training center. I think we both know it's for the best. [starts to drive away, but turns around again] But, can I ask you something? What was it like for you, when you showed up to your first race? How did you know you could do it?

Lightning: I don't know, I... I just never thought I couldn't.

Cruz: I wish I knew what that felt like.

I felt that deep in my core. I’ve been there, I’ve felt that, and I know what that’s like. That’s why when this scene hits I start crying every time. That’s why when McQueen gives her her first chance to show what she’s got it makes my heart swell. For her to not only prove others wrong, but to finally believe in herself and her abilities. Man that is a powerful thing.

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What character do you resonate with this most?