Viral TikTok star paying it forward using unique 'Lightning McQueen' car

Lightning McQueen
Posted at 9:06 AM, Nov 11, 2021

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah — Drivers in Utah County, Utah, are no longer questioning their eyesight when they spot a popular Disney character on the roads.

That's because Chris Van Wagenen dressed up his 2017 Subaru BRZ to be an exact replica of Lightning McQueen, the main character from Disney's Cars movies.

Van Wagenen is a TikToker, and his McQueen car features prominently in his videos.

When he first shared a photo of his car on Instagram, it didn't attract positive feedback.

"All I got was, 'I thought Lightning McQueen was supposed to be fast,'" Van Wagenen said.

He didn't give up. Instead, he turned his attention to featuring the car on TikTok.

"I turned that negatively into a positive thing," Van Wagenen said.

His videos have been viewed millions of times.

One of those videos is aimed at finding the future Mrs. Van Wagenen — or would it be Mrs. McQueen?

"Hey ladies, my name is Chris," he said in the video. "I drive Lightning McQueen, and if you think that's hot, just wait until you see the Star Wars wrap I am going to do on my WRX."

The car alone is enough to inspire positive reactions. Van Wagenen says he gets dozens of smiles any time he is out on the road. But now, he is trying to spread even more happiness.

This month, Van Wagenen is giving away the money he earns from TikTok views to strangers who correctly answer Cars trivia questions.

He filmed one such video Tuesday afternoon at a local Del Taco drive-thru.

"If I keep the trajectory I am going, just see how many people I can make have a great day," Van Wagenen said. "This is my new niche. I am the Lightning McQueen guy."

Van Wagenen said he plans on increasing the prize amounts as the videos gain more likes and views. It's his small way of sharing something positive with his neighbors and the world.

"The reactions are priceless," he said. "Everybody loves it and has a good time. People's phones are always out recording as they drive by me. It's incredible."

This story was originally published by John Franchi on Scripps station KSTU in Salt Lake City.