powered by AFI
Car racing champion Rob Wilson returns to the United States after being banned from American racetracks for three seasons following his involvement in an accident that killed another driver. Although Rob competed successfully in Europe, winning the top titles in Italy, he must still qualify to enter the Monterey, California race. His mother Alice, owner of the Italian automobile company that sponsors Rob, arranges the qualifying run, and is reunited at the track with Rob's sister Joanie, and his girl friend Liz. The next day, Alice and Joanie approach Rob's race-car owner father, Harry, from whom Alice and Rob have been estranged over his relentless, ambitious demands on Rob. Alice pleads with Harry to speak with Rob and he reluctantly agrees to see him following the race. During Rob's time abroad, Harry has thrown all his enthusiasm and support behind talented driver and mechanic Greg Morgan and his younger brother Kit, who have built their own car from scratch. Outwardly unimpressed by Rob's return, Harry cautions Greg to watch out for his son on the track, as he is known as "leadfoot," a careless, wild driver who will put other drivers at risk to win. Greg tells Harry that he will wait to judge Rob after experiencing his racing abilities first-hand. Unknown to Rob, during his time abroad, Liz has fallen in love with Greg, but the two have since broken up, to Liz's regret. During the race, the Wilsons, Liz and Kit watch anxiously. In a narrow, hazardous turn known as "leadfoot alley," Harry is surprised and pleased when Rob slows down, avoiding cutting off Greg, who wins the race. Afterward, Greg praises Rob's driving skills and Harry and Rob have an awkward reunion. When Harry enthusiastically praises Rob's "maturation" as a driver and asks him to drive the car he has co-designed with the Morgans at the Grand Prix, Rob insists he has not changed: he loathes racing and has only taken it up to win Harry's approval. When Rob declares his intention to withdraw from racing for good, Harry tells his son that he is nothing without racing. Hurt by his father's continued rejection, and guilty over his parent's separation, Rob refuses Harry's request and informs Alice that he intends to strike back at Harry on the racetrack driving her Italian car. Dismayed, Alice tells Rob she will never watch him race again. Later at the racing club bar, Greg asks Liz about her relationship with Rob. Liz explains that she has promised Alice to help Rob quit racing. A little later, Rob joins the group, which includes Kit and Joanie, and is startled when he realizes Greg and Liz's feelings for each other. In private, Liz assures Rob that she has never lied to him about Greg, and promises to remain with Rob as long as he needs her. Over the next several days, the Morgans continue refining their car and running numerous driving tests. Depressed over his continued feud with his father and apprehensive about Liz's feelings for him, Rob attempts to goad Greg into a private race at the track. Greg refuses, despite Harry's encouragement. Kit, who is also a qualified driver, angrily accepts. When Rob blatantly cuts Kit off in a tight corner, Kit is forced off the road and the subsequent spinout damages the car. Furious, Kit strikes Rob, who has stopped to apologize. Greg prevents Liz from going to Rob, telling her that Rob's erratic behavior has become dangerous. Greg and Kit spend the next day and night working furiously to repair their car in time for the Grand Prix. While celebrating the car's successful test at the club track the night before the race, Harry and the others run into a drunken, solitary Rob. After Harry accuses Rob of ruining their family by not accepting his destiny as a race driver, Rob vows he will win once more. That night, Rob is upset to find Liz with Greg, who tells him he must learn to stand on his own. When Rob insults Liz, Greg strikes him and Rob threatens revenge at the race. The morning of the Riverside Grand Prix, Alice tells Rob she is withdrawing his car from the race, but Rob promises this will be his last race. Meanwhile, Liz tells Harry of Rob's threat against Greg and he agrees to replace Greg with Kit. During the race, however, Rob, unaware of the driver change, stays dangerously close to the Morgans' car. Greg demands that Harry signal Kit to the pit, but Harry refuses, pleased with Kit's lead. Furious, Greg accuses Harry of causing the dangerous situation by his obsession with winning. Stunned by the revelation, Harry tells Alice that after the race he will try to make it up to Rob. After numerous laps, the Morgan car's fuel line bursts, bringing Kit into the pit. Greg makes the repairs, then insists on taking over as driver. Greg overtakes Rob in the lead and the two remain tied through the many remaining laps. At the climax of the race, as the two drivers head into the dangerous, narrow curves, Rob realizes the foolhardiness of his recklessness and is just able to steer away from Greg. Rob's car crashes through a railing and goes over a small embankment, but Rob is unhurt. As Greg wins the race, the Wilsons are reunited by the wreck of Rob's smoldering car.