Great Racing Documentaries To Binge Watch During Quarantine

If you recently found yourself with a lot of time on your hands and are looking for some good racing documentaries to devour, I’ve got the list right here for you. Some of these films will entertain you, and some of the documentaries will teach you stuff you didn’t know before.

As a student of the sport, I picked up a little something from each one of these films that made my racing team, Double Nickel Nine Motorsports, just a little bit better for the next event (hopefully). Get some popcorn and enjoy!

Uppity

This film, made by car guy Adam Carolla, details the life and dreams of the first African-American to qualify for the Indy 500: Willy T. Ribbs.

Available: Netflix (free)
Run Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Willy T. Ribbs jumped into a race car and was extremely fast right away. His talent was outstanding, and he quickly made a name for himself in Trans-Am racing. But, it was the 1980s — and some parts of America just weren’t as woke as we are today about race relations. Regardless, Willy was determined, and he punched his way (literally) to the front of the pack in every race he entered. Even when the people running his race teams would have preferred he take the back of the bus.

The best line in the film was Willy describing trying to qualify for the Indy 500: “I put my left foot on top of my right foot, and smashed the gas pedal down . . . if I die, they are going to find my feet just like this on the pedals.”

Truth In 24

This documentary, narrated by Jason Statham, covers the 24 Hours of LeMans inside the Audi team as they go for their fifth-consecutive win. One word: outstanding.

Available: Amazon (to rent, $5.99)
Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

This is the only film on this list that isn’t currently free to watch, but it is worth the $5.99 to rent from Amazon. I make my racing team watch this documentary before we go to any big 24-hour race. Audi’s record at LeMans is second to none, and this film gives you full access to the team. It includes audio between the crew chiefs and the drivers, which is often not complimentary. An excellent in-depth look at what it takes to run a professional racing organization during the hardest race on earth.

 

Jim Hall of Chaparral Cars – American Inventors Interview Series

Jim Hall was an engineer, a racer, and the guy who designed and built some of the most innovative cars in racing during the ’60s and ’70s at his Texas shop, Chaparral Cars.

Available: YouTube (free)
Run Time: 1 hour 19 minutes

This is not a documentary as much as it is a rough-cut conversation with the creator and driver of Chaparral Cars, Jim Hall. What is outstanding about this piece is the in-depth physics lessons you will learn from the mechanical engineer, who explains how his designs innovated racing forever.

Plus, you learn he had a racetrack for testing in the backyard of the Chaparral shop in Midland, Texas, which they called Rattlesnake Raceway. Jim shows you all of the different cars and takes you around his race track. Pretty cool.

Carroll Shelby – The Lost Interview | Ford v Ferrari | Le Mans | GT40 | Complete Life History

There has been so much done on Carroll Shelby, but this interview is straight from his mouth and really gets to how the whole Ford vs. Ferrari thing went down. Fascinating.

Available: YouTube (free)
Run Time: 1 hour 38 minutes

Similar to the Jim Hall video, this isn’t a documentary, just a one-on-one interview. But, Carroll Shelby did so much for racing it is interesting to hear his side of it all, direct from his mouth. He talks about Ken Miles and still gets emotional about losing his best driver and a good friend.

When he discusses how much money went into winning LeMans with Ford, he says, “The amount of money and resources spent on a single race will never be done again.” Crazy fact: Shelby didn’t want to do the Mustang! He thought it was “a secretary’s car.”

 

The 24 Hour War

An informative documentary describing the battle between Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II.

Available: Netflix (free)
Run Time: I Hour 39 minutes

Another film by Adam Carolla, this documentary is what inspired the Hollywood film Ford v Ferrari with Matt Damon and Christian Bale (which is worth the watch too). This piece covers a lot of what Carroll Shelby discussed in his interview (above) but provides a perspective from both sides of the story, Ferrari and Ford.

Double Down

A team of regular dudes takes on the mighty 25 Hours of Thunderhill with a two-car effort (with one of those cars originally built for the 24 Hours of LeMons).

Available: YouTube (free)
Run Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

This full-length documentary was filmed during the 10th anniversary run of the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill and follows Krider Racing as they try to tackle the “bucket list” event with two Nissan Sentra SE-Rs. The film takes you deep into the team with full access to the crew, the preparation, and 25 hours of no-sleep insanity.

Some of the in-car footage at night is breathtaking, with numerous close calls in the vast field, multi-class, differential speed race. They say LeMans is the world’s toughest race, but this race is one hour longer. Watch past the credits as the sleep-deprived pit crew takes over the documentary film trailer providing an absolutely hilarious segment.

 

Ford GT: The Return to Le Mans (Full Documentary) | Ford

Ford wants to come back to LeMans — exactly 50 years after its historic win in 1966 — and win it again with the new Ford GT. With a brand-new, undeveloped or tested car, the odds are against the team.

Available: YouTube (free)
Run Time: 1 hour 18 minutes

This documentary is a bit of a “Hey check us out, we’re Ford, and we are cool!” However, it does show the immense pressure of building a brand new car to take to LeMans the first year and try to win the big prize. The odds of being able to win the 24 Hours of LeMans in the new Ford GT — 50 years after winning it in 1966 — are bonkers. Regardless of those extreme odds, and a million things that can go wrong in a 24-hour race, Ford went for it.

Formula 1 – Drive To Survive

This extremely in-depth look at the last two seasons of Formula 1 racing is super entertaining and cutthroat.

Available: Netflix (free)
Run Time: 30-40 minute episodes, 10 episodes a season, 2 seasons

Even if you aren’t an avid Formula 1 fan, this show is worth the watch. You get to see the internal structure of each team, the insane amount of money being spent on racing, and then members of the same racing team crashing into each other on track (not smart). I was hooked into this quickly and devoured both seasons. What is great about this show is no matter how much money you bring into the sport, if you forget to tighten the lug nut on the car, the wheel falls off just like anywhere else in racing.

Hurley

This documentary was made because Hurley Haywood came out and announced to the world he was gay, but the film is less about that subject matter and more about racing Porsches in the 1970s.

Available: Amazon Prime (free)

Run Time: 1 hour 23 minutes

Hurley Haywood was “the man” in sports car racing in the ’70s and ’80s when the cars were fast, and the women in the paddock were faster. Ironically, Hurley wasn’t all that interested in the hot ladies walking around at the race tracks, since he was gay.

This film chronicles Brumos Porsche and how Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg smashed everyone on track together, especially at the 24 Hours of Daytona. You will learn a lot about the Brumos name and the tragic end for Peter Gregg, known as “Peter Perfect.”

Hopefully, this list should get you started and eat up a good portion of the week. Feel free to add your favorites and recommendations in the comments below.

About the author

Rob Krider

Rob Krider will race absolutely anything. He is a multi-national champion racing driver and is also the author of the novel, Cadet Blues.
Read My Articles

The Art of Driving delivered to your inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from Turnology, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
Turnology NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

We'll send you raw engine tech articles, news, features, and videos every week from TURNology.

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Turnology NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Engine Tech

Hot Rods & Muscle Cars

Corvette Enthusiasts

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Engine Tech
  • Hot Rods & Muscle Cars
  • Corvette Enthusiasts

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

TURNology - Subscribe to our Newsletter

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading