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Grant Willard (Brian Donlevy) is one of the car race sponsors of the
region, usually picking up naive guys who look promising enough in street
races, and grooming them to stardom - but should they fail to perform, he
drops them like flies. His latest "acquisition" is Rick, a
merciless tough guy of a driver - who is arrested for crashing someone
else's car in an illegal street race. Grant gets him out on bail and
persuades him to become a "figure 8 racer" in no time. Figure 8
races are essentially stock car races, made all the more exciting by
having an intersection at the center of the course. Rick doesn't like this
at first, but the arrogance of perpetual race winner Hawk (Sid Haig) soon
convinces Rick he just has to teach the guy a lesson - and the first
couple of races, he fails miserably - until he gets some tutoring from an
ex driver and learns from some colleagues that they just don't properly
compete with Hawk because they fear his wrath - not so Rick, who actually
doesn't only win the next race but also turns Hawk's car over. That same
night, Hawk beats Rick to a pulp and then proceeds to wreck his car until
he finds Rick's girlfriend Jolene (Beverly Washburn), a friend of his,
sitting in the car, scared shitless - which makes him see everything in a
Rick is too proud to not compete in the next race
against Hawk again, despite still being in pain, and he wins fair and
square - but this time Hawk is a fair loser and the two bury the hatchet
Anyways, Rick has long set his eyes on a higher goal, to
compete against Ed McLeod (George Washburn) in a higher class and away
from the spectacle-first figure 8 races - and Grant Willard tells him he's
got his back there, though he's only interested in playing one driver
against the next to help his own interests. Rick and Ed become friends
even (even though Rick starts an affair with Ed's wife [Ellen Burstyn]
behind his back), and eventually they learn they are to race national
champ Sonny Simpson (Ted Duncan) - and device a plan to outsmart him via
clever team work ... but Rick wants more, at any cost ...
way, one has the feeling Pit Stop is all too often undecided which
way to go: It tells a serious and intelligent story but is full of
clichés and grindhouse appeal, the acting is pretty great but the
characters are flat, and the direction can't decide whether to go for the
story's emotional center or just pure spectacle ... but really, who cares?
The film is great, and first and foremost thanks to the many great,
brutal, tense car races, the many wrecked cars, overturning vehicles and
the like. Sure, most of the footage might be from actual races, but the
camerawork captures the action and excitement of the sport really well.
Plus, the cars are just awesome to look at.
In short, if you're into
vintage cars crashing into one another, you'll love this movie ... and if you're not, you definitely
will be after seeing this!!!