Blue-collar or redneck, stock car racing attracts boys who don't ordinarily read books, and so do the revved-up Butterworth vehicles. This one pits brash, flip ex-paratrooper Johnny (""call me John"") Owens against his father Paul, a seasoned pro with the kind of equipment and crew, and caution, that makes the difference on the track. In an indulgent moment. Paul, who's given the kid a menial job, lets Johnny take a Grand National racer around for a few test laps; Johnny comes close to cracking up, but he's hooked. Without telling his father, he sets up a car and starts racing -- recklessly. The eventual smash-up--for both alerts Paul that it's time to retire, warns Johnny that he has a lot to learn; both of them give without giving in. The allure and logistics of professional racing, and a moral that's a matter of performance.