Let’s face it- we aren’t used to sitting in. At this time of the year, most of us would be getting ready for a season of racing, rallycrossing, karting, road races etc. As we know, it is not happening for a while, and most suspect, in hushed tones, that we might not get to drive in anger for quite a while, if at all in 2020.
To that end, it was perfect timing of Netflix to release A Life of Speed : The Juan Manuel Fangio Story this week. Juan Manuel Fangio Deramo, nicknamed El Chueco or El Maestro, was an Argentine racing driver. He dominated the first decade of Formula One racing, winning the World Drivers’ Championship five times, a record that stood for an incredible 47 years, before Michael Schumacher finally eclipsed it. He is regarded by many as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time and holds the highest winning percentage in Formula One – 46.15% – winning 24 of 52 Formula One races he entered.
Most of you, at this stage, will have seen Crash and Burn, the story of Dundalk’s Tommy Byrne. (“The fastest driver you never heard of!”) If you haven’t by the way, you need to. Another excellent recent Netflix documentary is “Uppity”, the story of Willy T Ribbs. Similar to Byrne, he had god given telent. similar to Byrne, he didn’t always tow the line, neither was he seen to fit. The story is mesmorising, and superbly named. He used to do the famous “Ali Shuffle” on the roof of his car after a win, almost taunting his detractors and a great quote from the documentary is “You don’t like it? Beat me!”
Drive to Survive
Formula 1 drivers, managers and team owners live life in the fast lane — both on and off the track. The series now returns for Season 2. The dynamic series returns with another ten parts, following the high-stakes and adrenaline fuelled action of the fastest sport in the world. Only 20 drivers get to compete in Formula 1 and with some of the sport’s top names racing for new teams, 2019 proved to be a season of broken alliances and renewed rivalries. This year for the first time, all 10 teams, including Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari, gave Netflix insider access as they battled it out for victory in the greatest racing series in the world. The series goes behind the scenes with the drivers, team principals and owners, to gain a unique and raw perspective on their lives, both on and off the track, and the tension and glamour of the sport.
This dramatic portrayal of the intense 1970s rivalry between F1 drivers Nikki Lauda and James Hunt captures the contrasts between the two champions. Again, a must watch if you have not already seen it. Both Hunt’s playboy image and Lauda’s intense, calculating personality are beautifully portrayed in a documentary that is as amusing as it is engaging.
The 24 Hour War
An intense rivalry between Henry Ford II of the Ford Motor Company and Enzo Ferrari results in the most epic showdown in racing history. When Enzo Ferrari went all the way to the verge of selling a portion of his company and then changed his mind, dending the embarassed “suits” back across the Atlantic with their tails between their legs. If you have seen “Ford Vs Ferrari” you will know all about this, of course but don’t confuse this 2016 documentary with the feature film about the same subject. Definitely worth a watch.
Featuring interviews and vintage footage, this documentary traces American icon Carroll Shelby’s life of reinvention from farmer to racer to entrepreneur. Once again, Shelby featured in the recent Ford Vs Ferrari film of course, but this concentrates more on the man. Farmer turned racer, car builder and businessman. There is some great period footage and some excellent interviews too.
Sir Chris Hoy- from Velodrome to Le Mans
After London 2012, having become the first British Olympian to win six gold medals, track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy retired. But having spent 20 years at the top of his sport, Chris isn’t about to settle for a quiet life. Instead, he swaps two wheels for four to pursue his boyhood dream of competing in the world’s toughest endurance motor race, the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The documentary follows Chris as he attempts to prove himself on the race track as he has in the velodrome. By early 2016, he is poised to join the highly successful Le Mans race team – Greaves Motorsport. But Chris’s hopes of a podium finish are crushed when the team has to withdraw their car. With less than three months until race day, he finds a seat with a rookie team who have never raced at Le Mans before. Chris has to learn a new car, battle with its teething troubles and work with a team whose operation is a world away from British cycling’s obsessive attention to detail.
As Le Mans 2016 begins in torrential rain, competitors are reminded of the danger – 22 drivers have died since it began in 1923 and cars crash out with frightening regularity. Can Chris’s team even make it through the 24 hours? And when technical troubles flare less than an hour into the race, there is a good chance that he won’t even get on the track. Will Chris and his team fail the ultimate test of man and machine?
The Gentleman Driver
There have always been Gentleman Drivers in motorsport. Well heeled individuals who pay well to drive at a high level, often offering the teams a chance to give a young driver a chance by driving aloingside them. This documentary follows four sucessful businessmen who moonlight as motorsport competitors at the highest level, the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and examines what fuels them to succeed, both at work and on the track.
Speed is my Need
This daredevil documentary trails behind and into the minds of the biggest names in one of the world’s most dangerous sports, Superbike Racing. “Life without danger is no life at all”, this is the mindset of many a motorbike racers. Featuring racers Freddie Spencer, Colin Edwards, Ron Haslam and Peter Hickman, the film delves into the mindset of these high speed high risk stars to find out what makes them need the ultimate buzz.
Karters will always protest when the prefix Go is added to their discipline, as it suggests fairground or fun machines. This film starts that way with the star being invited to a birthday party at a kart track. Predictably he is handy enough when he gets behind the wheel. From here, it mirrors the famous Karate Kid movie storyline as the old master takes him on and, at least initially, does everything bar let him drive. It might be slightly cheesy but it beats Coronation Street or Fair City!