Heart like a Wheel (1983)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Heart like a Wheel Photos

Movie Info

In this drama based on a true story, a female race-car driver battles convention to become a national hot-rod champion. Her struggles with the racing world's sexism and the increasing jealousy of her pit-mechanic husband are alternated with numerous auto-race re-creations.
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
20th Century Fox Film Corporation


Beau Bridges
as Connie Kalitta
Anthony Edwards
as John Muldowney (age 15-23)
Bonnie Bedelia
as Shirley Muldowney
Bill McKinney
as `Big Daddy' Don Garlits
Dick Miller
as Mickey White
Paul Bartel
as Chef Paul
Byron Thames
as John (age 10-13)
Leo Rossi
as Jack Muldowney
Ellen Geer
as Mrs. Marianne Kalitta
Paul Linke
as Reporter
James Burton
as Guitar Player
Terence Knox
as Jack's Friend
Jesse Aragon
as Carlos
Robert Ridgely
as Bob Morton, "Sportsline"
Bob Minor
as Ralph, NHRA Official
Michael Cavanaugh
as NHRA Boss
Leonard Termo
as Good Joe
Michael Talbott
as Englishtown Announcer
Paul Bryar
as Matt
Catherine Paolone
as Mrs. Good Joe
Diane Delano
as Shirley's Sister
Jill Carroll
as John's Girl Friend
Dean Paul Martin
as Sonny Rigotti
Creed Bratton
as Photographer
Tiny Wells
as Tiny
Mitzi Hoag
as Shirley's Mother
Sam Laws
as Piano Player
Bruce Barlow
as Bass Player, Tex's Band
Harry Northrup
as Trooper
Nora Heflin
as Nurse North
Mark Dawson
as Guitar/Harmonica, Tex's Band
Missy Basile
as Angela
Martin Casella
as Reporter
Sam Posey
as Himself
Brandon Brent Williams
as John (age 5-8)
Tim Kimber
as Buddy
Steve Evans
as Himself
Tom Duffield
as Rahn Tobler
Michel Barrere
as NHRA Guard
Marvin Graham
as Kalitta's Crew Chief
Tiffany Brissette
as Little Shirley
Bruce Barloe
as Bass Player
Chris Fontana
as Frank the Crank
Bruce Barlow
as Bass Player, Tex's Band
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Critic Reviews for Heart like a Wheel

All Critics (7)

This charming movie further expanded the roles allotted to women, chronicling the career of Muldowney (splendidly played by Bonnie Badelia), the only race driver (male or female) to have won three times the National Hot Rod Association World Championship

Full Review… | December 7, 2006

A solid entry in the overcoming-great-odds-to-become-a-champion biopic.

Full Review… | October 2, 2006

... and there STILL ain't many girls in NASCAR.

March 1, 2005

A spunky, well-crafted movie about the first woman to succeed in big-time drag racing

Full Review… | July 23, 2003
Spirituality and Practice

Quote not available.

March 1, 2008

Quote not available.

July 8, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for Heart like a Wheel

Love this movie.. I love Shirley Muldowney.. She is my hero all the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! love Drag Racing

Teresa Kaltenbach
Teresa Kaltenbach

(3 1/2 Stars) I think the worst thing I can say about Heart Like a Wheel is that it's pretty much a big budget Lifetime movie... but at least it's a good Lifetime movie. Bonnie Bedelia, who everyone knows as John McClaine's wife Holly from Die Hard, shines in this biopic about Shirley Muldowney... I know nothing about the real woman, but she seems like she lead an inspirational life. For a biopic, this movie feels a little overabridged and melodramatic. She's a woman in a man's drag racing world and no one will let her compete. She has to overcome obstacles by men... who are pigs. Of course, she smokes most of them in the race, but men still verbally (and physically) fight her; it's the kind of cheesy melodrama that's kind of entertaining to watch. For the most part, I liked Heart Like a Wheel. It had a good retro soundtrack, good racing scenes, and a great lead performance. It's not a must see, but it's diverting.

Tom Radovich
Tom Radovich


Leo L
Leo L

Super Reviewer

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