Racing Movie Project: Stroker Ace

Stroker AceMovie: Stroker Ace

Year: 1983

Starring: Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Jim Nabors, Parker Stevenson, Loni Anderson

Rating: ⚐⚐ (out of 5)

Plot: Stock car driver Stroker Ace battles with his fried chicken sponsor.

Thoughts: Stroker Ace, which is the second of three movie in the Racing Movie Project starring Burt Reynolds, was written and directed by Hal Needham. Needham made the movie during his heyday as a NASCAR owner, which probably explains a lot of his access. At the end of the day, this was an opportunity for Needham to put Burt Reynolds back in a car and make a movie (following the success of Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run). It has all the necessary ingredients, including an appearance by Jerry Reed and a theme song by Charlie Daniels. And a bar fight so Needham could put his stuntman friends to work.

Stroker Act tells the story of a driver and his overbearing sponsor, who expects him to open fried chicken restaurants, to put up with the nickname “The Fastest Chicken in the South,” and to wear a chicken suit in a commercial. While these acts may have been embarrassing in 1983, they are pretty much standard fare for 2013. In fact, there may be a couple drivers who would take Stroker’s obligations over their own.

Stroker Ace stars Jim Nabors, who has his own ties to racing with the Indy 500, and Loni Anderson, the future ex-Mrs. Burt Reynolds. I know that, at the end of the movie, Burt is supposed to get the girl. But I really hoped that Loni’s character actually ended up with Jim Nabor’s character.

The bright spots of this movie? This was a time when stock cars really were stock cars and the drivers kissed the girls in Victory Lane. It is amazing how far NASCAR has come in 30 years. Also, I loved the appearances by David Hobbs (no mention of clag in this movie) and Bubba Smith as Clyde Torkle’s chauffeur.

Next week: Next week we’ll be talking about one of the most anticipated movies on my list — Grand Prix.

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