If you’ve ever watched Formula 1, endurance racing, or another discipline, you may already know how thrilling it can be. On race day, you only see part of the story. What happens off the track can be just as interesting.
That’s why there are so many fascinating documentaries about racing. We’ve gathered just a few of them. Whether you’re new to racing documentaries or just looking to revisit an old favorite, this list should give you a few ideas.
1. F1: Drive to Survive
While the focus is often on the drivers in Formula 1, anyone involved will tell you that it’s a team sport. Any documentary around the sport will show that, but this eight-episode series from Netflix does an especially good job.
Drivers see plenty of drama on the track, but you may see even more off the track. Mercedes and Ferrari, two of the biggest names in the championship, declined to be filmed, but both will appear in the upcoming second season.
2. Grand Prix Driver
If you found yourself wanting to follow a single team’s story while watching F1: Drive to Survive, you may prefer Amazon’s take on the drama that is Formula 1. This four-episode series follows McLaren during its build-up to the 2017 season.
Rookie Stoffel Vandoorne joins two-time champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren’s headquarters. From here we see both car and drivers preparing to take on a season. McLaren is hoping to see some progress after three years without a win. Not everything works out for the team, as you can tell by looking at the record of its 2017 season, but the documentary will have you rooting for the team regardless.
Racing is a risky endeavor, as every single documentary on this list shows in one way or another. Williams may show this better than many other films.
This documentary follows Sir Frank Williams and, to a lesser extent, the team that bears his name. A large portion of the film focuses on Williams’ road accident in 1986 which left him a quadriplegic. This means this isn’t the most cheerful documentary, but it is a powerful one.
4. The 24 Hour War
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the oldest endurance race in motorsport, and it is every bit as thrilling as you may expect. This documentary doesn’t focus on every single aspect of the race, and is better for it.
Instead of the race itself, The 24 Hour War focuses on the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari. This is one of the most famous face-offs in racing history. After watching this documentary, you’ll understand why its legacy endures.
5. Le Mans: Racing is Everything
If you’d rather see something that covers every aspect of the modern day 24 Hours of Le Mans, you may prefer Le Mans: Racing is Everything. This six-episode series from Amazon follows six teams competing in the race from preparation through the race itself.
Some viewers criticized the audio, which doesn’t always match up to what you’re seeing on screen. If you can get past this, it’s a fascinating watch.
6. Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman
Instead of focusing on a specific discipline, Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman delivers exactly what its title promises. While Newman is mostly known for being an acclaimed actor, this documentary from The 24 Hour War directors Adam Carolla and Nate Adams follows his racing career.
From Newman’s early introduction to racing via his acting career to his winning his class in the 24 Hours of Daytona at age 70, this documentary is full of wonderful moments. Newman’s love of racing is so infectious you might even find yourself itching to hop in a car and race.
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