Racing documentaries, with their heart-pounding mix of thrills and true-life events, can leave anyone on the edge of their seat. To the casual observer, motorsports might appear to be merely vehicles hurtling around tracks, but the aficionado understands there’s more to it. Terms like victory, loss, adrenaline, pit stops, pole positions, and podiums barely scratch the surface of the emotions and strategic thinking behind these intense sports.
Usually, the racing component is what’s prominently featured on screen, but shows like Drive to Survive and films like Ford v Ferrari reveal there’s a broader story to be told. While Hollywood often enhances the drama, the raw, authentic elements sometimes get diluted. That’s where documentaries shine, offering a glimpse into the true life events behind the spectacle. Now, let’s delve into the seven best racing documentaries that have ever been made!
Michael Schumacher, an unparalleled legend in Formula One racing, clinched seven championship titles and triumphed in 91 Grand Prix races. Unfortunately, he got injured in a skiing accident which caused severe damage to his nervous system. Netflix narrated the life story of this German driver through archived footage and interviews.
Schumacher doesn’t only describe the story of the driver, Michael Schumacher, but also describes his story as a father and a husband. The interviews of his wife, son, daughter, and other close people are a part of this documentary, which help paint a comprehensive picture of his career and personal life. Overall, Netflix’s Schumacher shows an inspiring portrait of the racing legend, showcasing the enduring legacy he has left on the world of motorsports.
Many drivers have lost their lives in the past, which also includes Ayrton Senna. Diving into the heart of Formula One racing, Senna is a documentary that stands head and shoulders above many others in its genre. Directed by Asif Kapadia, this masterful documentary follows the life and career of Ayrton Senna, one of the greatest and most enigmatic figures in the world of Formula One racing.
The documentary begins with the start of Senna’s career in Formula 1 and goes through his journey of becoming a three-time world champion. You’ll see a wealth of archival footage, cleverly pieced together, to narrate the story in the present tense, thereby intensifying the emotional impact of the journey. The viewer experiences excitement, passion, and ultimately the heartbreak that defined Senna’s career. It also covers the death of Ayrton Senna in a racing accident that occurred during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story
A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story is an enthralling racing documentary that captivates its audience with the story of a true legend. Centered around Juan Manuel Fangio, widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers in the history of Formula One, this film brings to life the thrilling era of motorsport in which he competed.
Born in Argentina, Fangio’s career spanned a time when safety measures were minimal, and every race had the potential to be a driver’s last. Despite the inherent dangers, he dominated the sport like few others, winning five World Championship titles during the 1950s. The documentary does an admirable job of exploring Fangio’s rise to prominence, his career-defining races, and his enduring legacy in the sport.
Grand Prix: The Killer Years
Grand Prix: The Killer Year is a documentary that was made by BBC. As the name shows, the documentary shows the dangerous era of F1 racing in the 1960s and 1970s. The documentary explores problems such as lack of safety regulations, inadequate track designs, and the inherent dangers of racing.
Delving into the world of motorsports, McLaren paints an intriguing portrait of Bruce McLaren, a titan of the racing world. The direction of Roger Donaldson takes us on an incredible voyage, tracing the humble roots of the New Zealander and his rise to create one of the premier teams in the history of Formula One racing.
Utilizing an extensive collection of historic footage, the film sketches a powerful depiction of McLaren’s tenacity and commitment. It intimately observes the way McLaren defied expectations to establish his racing team, ultimately becoming an overwhelming force in the realm of Formula One against all odds. McLaren is more than just a racing documentary. It’s a motivational tale about an individual’s resilience in the face of challenges and the courage to chase grand aspirations.
Williams is a compelling racing documentary that delves into the story behind one of the most successful teams in Formula One history, Williams Racing. Directed by Morgan Matthews, the film beautifully explores the professional and personal life of Sir Frank Williams, the founder of the Williams F1 team.
What sets Williams apart from many other racing documentaries is its focus not just on the track but also on the personal struggles and triumphs of its subject. It candidly explores Williams’ recovery from a car accident that left him quadriplegic, showing how he continued to lead his team despite his life-altering condition.
And We Go Green
And We Go Green is a RACING documentary about the future of motorsports; Formula E racing. Directed by Fisher Stevens and Malcolm Venville, the film takes viewers on a thrilling journey into the heart of the electric car racing championship. Unlike traditional motorsports, Formula E was born with the dual mission of providing high-octane entertainment and promoting sustainable technology.
Beyond the adrenaline-pumping racing sequences, this documentary is also an exploration of the broader societal issue of environmental sustainability. It shines a light on the potential of electric vehicles to combat climate change and the role of Formula E in driving this revolution. Interviews of key figures such as Alejandro Agag, Lucas di Grassi, Sam Bird, and Jean-Eric Vergne are also a part of this racing documentary.