Smokey comes across Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez at the Thomasville Speedway. He invites them to the local bar to have a drink with his friends and fellow legends of the early days of the Piston Cup, Louise Nash, River Scott and Junior Moon. Smokey soon realizes that McQueen came in hopes he could receive some training from someone related to his former mentor Doc Hudson. When Smokey hears that McQueen is worried that he would end up like Doc, Smokey explains to McQueen that while Doc was indeed broken by the premature end of his racing career, he had found fulfillment in his life when he took McQueen under his wing. Smokey agrees to train both McQueen and Ramirez, using Ramirez as a stand-in for Jackson Storm to motivate McQueen. He uses somewhat old school or unconventional techniques designed to teach smarts as well as speed. His exercises consist of driving through a stampede of tractors or dodging hay bales. As his final test, he takes them on a night race with no headlights on, much like what moonshiners had to do back in the day.
Smokey comes to the Florida 500 and serves as Lightning McQueen's pit crew chief for the first part of the race. After Lighting takes advantage of a pile-up to let Cruz replace him as the number 95, Smokey is bewildered by what Lightning is asking him to tell Cruz, and ends up asking McQueen to take his place as crew chief.
- Smokey is modeled after a 1940s Hudson pickup truck.
- He is based on Smokey Yunick, a famous mechanic who played a key role in the early years of NASCAR.
- Smokey's Mattel die-cast has an error: his upper lip is a little further below his grill instead of right below it, giving him a slightly younger look than in the film.