This is the true story of Wendell Scott, America's first African American NASCAR driver, once he returns from WWII to find his hometown the way he left it. With seed money for a taxicab business, he learns all the county roads. With his new knowledge an opportunity presents itself with some steep consequences. After an invitation to the local race track, a race car driver is born. The ethnic boundaries are a part of everyday life in 1950's Amercan life. You become part of his fight for equality, fairness and the American dream.
From the same director
Richard Pryor (Wendell Scott), Beau Bridges (Hutch), Pam Grier (Mary), Cleavon Little (Peewee), Vincent Gardenia (Sheriff Cotton), Richie Havens (Woodrow), Julian Bond (Russell), Earl Hindman (Beau Welles), Minnie Gentry (Wendell's Mother), Lucy Saroyan (Hutch's Wife), Noble Willingham (Billy Joe Byrnes), Bruce Atkins (Deputy Turner), Steve Fifield (Deputy Drinkwater), Bill Cobbs (Mr. Jones), Georgia Allen (Mrs. Jones), Maynard Jackson (Minister), Danny Nelson (Wayne Carter), Alvin Huff (Moonshiner), Willie McWhorter (Wendell Jr), Frederick 'Dennis' Greene (Slack (as Frederick Dennis Greene)), Bill Connell (Speedway Announcer), Clara Dunn (Restaurant Owner (uncredited)), Charlie Briggs (Race Official (uncredited)), Clebert Ford (Passenger (uncredited))
Richard Pryor shows his versatility, in this story of a black moonshine runner who forces his way into the white-dominated professional racing circuit. I'm not sure how historically accurate it is, but the film drew me into the story, right off the bat. When they establish Pryor's character as a WWII veteran, that automatically buys some sympathy, and it's not hard to guess how hard it would have been for a black man to make his mark in the white-dominated south, let alone the white-ultra-dominated auto racing field. This particular aspect of racing, I think, still shows today in the incredibly-low percentage of black drivers in the major leagues of auto racing. I know it's not because African-Americans can't build or drive cars - I believe it's still because of the redneck image of pro stock-car racing.
Anyway, off my soapbox. This is a great movie. Pryor is very believable and turns in a fine performance as the protagonist. It's also great to see how the small local drivers started to build up the sport into the massive, ugly organization that is is, today. The film also kept my interest by showing the NASCAR races, year after year, showing their evolution and devolution.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, front to back - of course, I'm kind of tilted towards car films. But the way the actors played out their characters in this film made them very human. I recommend this to any open-minded NASCAR fan. This'll show you where it came from.
[searching for car parts in a scrap yard]
Peewee: What'chyou looking for, Wendell?
Wendell Scott: Some of this, some of that, some of everything. A universal joint.
Peewee: Hmph. I wouldn't know a universal joint if it bit me.
Wendell Scott: Well, one's about to bite you.
Relámpago en ruedas (Colombia) • Un loco al volante (Spain) • Rasvattu salama (Finland) • Il circuito della paura (Italy) • Som et olja lyn (Norway) • Blyskawicznie (Poland) • Um Louco ao Volante (Portugal) • Dödsjakten på racerbanan (Sweden) • Молния (Soviet Union (Russian title)) • Stock Car Race - Höllenjagd auf heißen Pisten (West Germany)
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