September 05, 1977 12:00 PM

Richard Pryor as Wendell Scott, the first black to bend fenders with the good ol’ Southern boys who invented stock car racing, keeps this vehicle on track all the way to the checkered flag. The obligatory lard-bellied whites who threaten the hero are played mostly for laughs and racial epithets fly like watermelon seeds, but then this true story is a heartwarming tale—not history. Beau Bridges as a white racer who befriends Pryor, Cleavon Little as Pryor’s racing partner, folksinger Richie Havens as his mechanic and Pam Grier as his wife stand out in a fine supporting cast. Look for Julian Bond and Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson in bit parts. (PG)

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