Heart Like a Wheel

Watch Heart Like a Wheel

"She did something women were forbidden to do, and became a World Champion."
  • PG
  • 1983
  • 1 hr 53 min
  • 6.7  (1,530)
  • 74

Heart Like a Wheel is a 1983 biopic film that is based on the true story of Shirley Muldowney, a female race car driver who became the first woman to win the National Hot Rod Association's Top Fuel championship. Directed by Jonathan Kaplan and starring Bonnie Bedelia as Shirley Muldowney, Beau Bridges as her husband, and Diane Delano as her friend and assistant, the movie is a dramatic and inspiring tale of a woman who defied the odds to make history in the male-dominated world of racing.

The story begins with Shirley, a young and ambitious woman from Schenectady, New York, who dreams of one day becoming a race car driver. Despite the skepticism and ridicule of her family and friends, she is determined to pursue her passion, and starts out by racing her husband's car on a local track. Her talent and determination quickly catch the eye of Connie Kalitta, a legendary race car driver who offers to train her and help her break into professional racing.

With Connie's guidance, Shirley proves herself on the competitive racing circuit, blazing a trail as the first woman to race in NHRA's Top Fuel category. Despite facing discrimination and hostility from her male competitors, she perseveres, breaking records and winning races, and earning the respect of her peers and fans. Along the way, she also struggles to balance her racing career with her personal life, including her marriage to her supportive but sometimes jealous husband, and her relationship with her loyal assistant and friend.

Heart Like a Wheel is a cinematic ode to Shirley Muldowney's groundbreaking career, and a tribute to her indomitable spirit and determination. The film captures the adrenaline-fueled excitement of high-speed racing, as well as the emotional highs and lows of Shirley's triumphs and setbacks. Bonnie Bedelia gives a powerful and nuanced performance as Shirley, conveying both her fierce competitiveness and her vulnerable humanity. Beau Bridges is also excellent as her husband, portraying his initial reluctance and eventual admiration for his wife's passion and achievements. Diane Delano provides comic relief and heart as Shirley's colorful assistant, injecting a dose of levity into the film's tense and often emotional moments.

In addition to its compelling portrayal of Shirley and her accomplishments, Heart Like a Wheel also sheds light on the challenges and obstacles faced by women in male-dominated professions. The film depicts the sexism and prejudice that Shirley confronts in the racing world, as well as the toll that her career takes on her personal relationships. However, it also celebrates her persistence and bravery in pursuing her dreams, and her legacy as a trailblazer for future generations of female racers.

Overall, Heart Like a Wheel is a rousing and heartfelt tribute to a remarkable woman and her groundbreaking career. It combines thrilling racing sequences, poignant character development, and a powerful message of perseverance and determination. Whether you're a racing fan or simply admire stories of triumph against the odds, this film is sure to leave you inspired and uplifted.

Heart Like a Wheel
Heart Like a Wheel doesn't appear to be available from any streaming services.
Add this movie to your Watchlist to get notified when it's available.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 53 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.7  (1,530)
  • Metascore