Thirty-six years ago, the film Rad premiered. It has a huge discrepancy between critic reviews and fan reception. The critics hated it and after it was released on VHS and Laser Disc in 1986, it stayed in the top-ten rental charts for the next two years. It is not great or even good, but it is very 80s and spoke to a specific group of kids at that time. It is available on various streaming services and you can even listen to the soundtrack on iTunes.
Directed by: Hal Needham
Produced by: Robert L. Levy
Written by: Geoffery Edwards, Sam Bernard
Starring: Bill Allen, Lori Loughlin, Talia Shire, Ray Walston
Music by: James Di Pasquale
Cinematography: Richard Leiterman
Edited by: Carl Kress
Production Company: TaliaFilm II Productions
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
Release date: March 28, 1986
Running time: 91 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $3 million
Box office: $2 million
The film’s story focuses on Cru Jones (Bill Allen), a young BMX racer who lives in a small town with his mother (Talia Shire) and sister. Cru is faced with a tough decision: qualify for Helltrack or take the SAT in order to attend college. Winning Helltrack means $100,000, a new Chevrolet Corvette, and fame. Cru chooses the former option, ignoring his mother’s wishes.
The Helltrack race is endorsed by the city and a duplicitous Duke Best (Jack Weston), president of The Federation of American Bicyclists and owner of Mongoose bicycles. Best keeps adjusting the rules in order to keep Cru out of the race and to ensure BMX star Bart Taylor (1984 Olympic gymnastics champion Bart Conner) has an easy road to victory, thus providing a financial windfall for Mongoose Racing, Bart’s sponsor.
Racers from all around come to the small town for the Helltrack and Cru meets Christian Hollings (Lori Loughlin), who becomes Cru’s romantic interest. Christian and Cru meet at the local high school dance where, instead of dancing like the other couples, they perform freestyle bike stunts on the dance floor to the awe of many. After being blocked from the race due to a last minute rule change on participant sponsorship, Cru is ready to give up his dreams of winning Helltrack, until his younger sister Wesley (Laura Jacoby) gives him a shirt to wear at Helltrack reading “Cru is… RAD.” Cru and his friends then come up with an idea for him to still enter the race. Using the $10,000 Cru won from qualifying, they start up “Rad Racing,” a small T-shirt business. However; days before the race Best changes the rules yet again claiming any company sponsoring a racer must be worth $50,000. When the towns people hear about this they rally around Cru and his friends and with their contributions along with a generous donation from a wealthy local, Mr. Timmer (Ray Walston) Rad Racing comes up with enough money and Jones is finally able to enter Helltrack.
During Helltrack, Duke Best gets the Reynolds twins to try to take out Cru, to no avail. In the final lap, Bart, who leads the race, slows down so that he and Cru can face each other one-on-one in the final stretch. Cru ultimately wins Helltrack, and Bart Taylor is kicked off the Mongoose team. In the final scene Cru offers Taylor a spot in Rad Racing.