This bold film yokes together two unlikely themes, the 'woman's picture' and drag racing, then stands slightly to the side of both and narrows its eyes. For while the roaring glamour of quarter-mile sprint cars would have tempted many action directors into dwelling at length on the spectacle, Kaplan's focus shifts slowly away from the flames and the noise and on to the problems facing the rise of a woman racer, Shirley Muldowney. Even then the movie is far from simple: of course there is unthinking prejudice from race officials and other drivers, but the real problem is Muldowney's struggles with her own affections and loyalties. Race fans won't be disappointed, but the real bonus comes from a perfect performance of tough understatement from Bonnie Bedelia as the three-time winner. The wheel may be a flash chrome slot-mag, but the heart is gold. CPea.