In 1971 Madison, Indiana, Jim McCormick (Caviezel) has left the dangers of hydroplane boat racing behind him in favor of a wife, family and a job as the town's air-conditioner repairman. But deep inside, the dream of once again piloting the community-owned Miss Madison lives on. Several years old and in constant disrepair, the boat has become the laughing stock of hydroplane racing. And the town has no money to fix it - especially in light of the dwindling river-supported economy.
To make matters worse, Madison's competitors on the circuit, such as the Miss Budweiser, have rich corporate sponsorships, top-of-the-line equipment, round-the-clock maintenance and huge, well-paid crews.
When Madison, on a fluke, is offered the chance to host the prestigious Gold Cup championship, it's too much for McCormick to resist, even though no one else on the circuit wants them to do it - or thinks they can afford it. But McCormick rallies his community in an attempt to bring exposure and excitement to the dying town.