Federal agent Ray Faulkner poses as a road gang convict, and arranges the escape of a group of hardened chain-gang criminals. He forces them at gunpoint into a helicopter.
In flashback we see that Faulkner wants to take on a local crime boss, Burl, who runs a moonshine ring and has a lot of political power in a state.
Faulkner persuades the convicts to work on the side of the law by promising them paroles. He heads a team of eight men, composed of himself, six prisoners and a fellow agent. The team includes
Sonny, a man in prison for murder who is a good driver. He has a drinking problem.
Frank Davis, a former driver for the syndicate. Davis is at first opposed to the idea but then discovers the mob murdered his brother.
Henry, a black prisoner who is a good driver.
Billy Jo, a mechanic who wants to drive.
Sam, a prisoner who likes to fight.
Chandler, a man who refuses to fight who reads the Bible.
Stewart Martin, a Federal agent on his first assignment
Faulkner trains the men in high-speed driving and hurling lighted bombs at pinpoint targets.
The team start intercepting the moonshiners’ delivery cars until Burl is forced to give Faulkner and his men a share of the illegal whiskey operation and let them make the deliveries.
Burl pulls a double-cross by arranging for Faulkner and Martin to be ambushed by crooked police while making a moonshine run, and Martin is shot down from a police helicopter.
Sonny has learned the location of Burl’s stills and the team attack with their specially equipped cars and carefully timed explosives.
During the battle, Burl tries to escape by using his mistress Cissy as a hostage, but Faulkner captures him. Cissy is reunited with Davis, and Burl is taken to prison.