Eighteen-year-old Johnnie Simpson (Chuck Courtney) has a girlfriend, Betty Palmer (Melinda Byron), who works as a waitress at the Front Page – the local drive-in cafe.
Maurie Weston (Robert Fuller), the town bully, owns a fancy hot rod and regularly teases Johnnie about him not being allowed to have a car.
This riles Johnnie, and when Betty allows him to drive her home in her brother’s car and Maurie overtakes in a fuel-injected jalopy, Johnnie puts his foot to the floor, only to be pulled over by a cop for speeding.
Johnnie is denounced as a hoodlum by his father, who is more concerned about what Judge Grant will think of him when the case comes to court.
Johnnie determines to buy a car himself and gets a summer job at a gas station assisting genial mechanic Bert Morrison (Paul Bryar), who is building a hot rod to race and encourages Johnnie to help him with it. Bert becomes something of a father figure to Johnnie.
Real Dad disapproves of his son becoming a grease monkey and demands that he come to work for him in his real estate office.
While Johnnie and Betty are having dinner together, Maurie tries to make a move on Betty and challenges Johnnie to a race – knowing he doesn’t have a car and so can’t defend his honour.
Johnnie visits a used car lot where he persuades the salesman to let him test drive a Ford Model T hot rod and promises to return the car the next morning.
When the two meet up to race, Maurie suggests they drive towards each other in a “Chicken Run” – with the winner being the one who doesn’t swerve away.
The Chicken Run goes ahead, but Betty intervenes by standing in the middle of the road as the cars hurtle towards each other, causing both to swerve aside. The ever-present police promptly arrest Johnnie again.
After feuding with his father again, Johnnie breaks into the garage and “borrows” the hot rod he and Bert have been working on. Mr Simpson calls the police, who put out an APB for the missing man-boy.
Later, Johnnie calls Betty and admits he has stolen the car. Betty informs him that Bert has entered the car into a drag race that afternoon.
Bert has a hunch that Johnnie will show up to race the car and invites Mr Simpson and Betty to join him at the race.
Johnnie does show up, Bert asks him to race the car, and he competes against Maurie.
Johnnie wins the race, has a confrontation with Maurie and beats him up. Johnnie is now back on good terms with his father, Betty and Bert.
Frank offers to buy the hot rod for Johnnie, and on their way home in the newly purchased hot rod, the three get stopped by the police – but this time it’s dad who gets the speeding ticket.
Aunt Martha Simpson