Best racing films and TV box sets to stream on Netflix in 2021 (updated)

Racing Movies

We've selected the best racing movies on Netflix, as well as documentaries and box sets ready for you to watch right now - updated for 2021

McLaren Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates with a cameraman in the parc ferme of the Hungaroring racetrack on August 2, 2008 in Budapest after the qualifying session of the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix. McLaren Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton took the pole position ahead of his Finnish team mate Heikki Kovalainen and Ferrari Brazilian's driver Felipe Massa.

Find all the best Netflix racing shows to stream below

ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

As lockdown heads for another lap, there might be no better time in which to gen up on all the top racing films, documentaries and series on Netflix. We’ve hand-picked some of the best that are available to stream right now. Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll keep updating the list.

 

Drive to Survive

Drive to survive netflix renault Haas

With leading teams out, the midfield were the stars in series one, with Mercedes and Ferrari joining the series two

Vladimir Rys

With behind-the-scenes Formula 1 documentary Drive to Survive soon returning for its third instalment on Netflix, now might just be the time to your refresh your memory of Seasons 1 and 2.

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While anyone with a basic knowledge of grand prix racing will have to endure explanations of how F1 works every five minutes, the level of detail and behind-the-scenes footage still makes it highly viewable.

Midfield teams take centre-stage, but a unique selling point of series two is that for the first time ever Mercedes and Ferrari have allowed behind-the-scenes access, the former for two episodes and the latter for one.

The Mercedes episode is suitably melodramatic, with the team mourning over a disastrous weekend at Hockenheim. If you can survive the team going into buzzword overkill in an attempt to drag themselves out of a motoring-mire of despondency, then it certainly makes for an interesting watch.

You also get to see Haas go into full-on meltdown, the Red Bull young driver pressure-cooker turned up to 11 and Renault bring superstition into its bid for elite-level sporting performance.

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A Life of Speed: the Juan Manuel Fangio Story

MOTORSPORT - F1 1955 - ARGENTINA GP - BUENOS AIRES - PHOTO: LAT / DPPI JUAN MANUEL FANGIO (ARG) / MERCEDES W196 DAIMLER BENZ - AMBIANCE - PORTRAIT - WINNER

Fangio’s story is brilliantly charted in ‘Life of Speed’

LAT / DPPI

Regarded for a long time as the greatest F1 racer of all time, this in-depth documentary charts the life and times of the man widely known as Il Maestro: Juan Manuel Fangio.

From his early days in road racing to the heights of grand prix glory via the birth of F1, the documentary goes into an impressive amount of detail covering his story. Fangio’s career had a sense of adventure and romance like few others, and, as a result, petrolheads and casual viewers alike will find it an extremely satisfying watch.

The film has fine roll call of talking heads, including Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Alain Prost, Jackie Stewart and Mika Häkkinen. Each gives their opinions on what made Fangio so great, as well as various others close to him who knew what made the ‘Old Man’ tick.

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Uppity: The Willy T Ribbs

Uppity Netflix screen

Uppity tells the story of Willy T. Ribbs, the first black driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Fighting against deeply-ingrained racism in America and particularly the NASCAR scene, Ribbs fought his way up to the highest echelons of motorsport.

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Apart from Ribbs being a highly engaging and charismatic racer, the story of this film is about one black man’s fight against the racism ingrained in a whole sporting culture.
Despite death-threats, less-than-welcoming colleagues and his cars even being sabotaged by his own team, Ribbs managed to forge a successful career in the US.

The film is propelled along by contemporary interviews with Ribbs, the San Jose-native leaning in to whisper at key moments and add dramatic effect to what is an already great story.

Other contributions from key figures – such as Bernie Ecclestone, who handed Ribbs a Brabham test opportunity, illustrate what a unique journey the American’s was.

With a compelling narrative and plenty of archive footage, the film strikes a more upbeat tone than many of the more wistful documentaries on similar subjects.

Ribbs was a true trailblazer, making Uppity certainly worth the watch.

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The Gentleman Driver

Gentleman Driver poster

What started out as one of motorsport’s defining features has now shrunk to a sporting niche: the gentleman driver.

A handful of professional categories still rely on amateur drivers to make their operation go round and the World Endurance Championship is one of these.

The series follows four entrepreneurs as they follow their latent dream of achieving a (reasonably) high level of motorsport success, by virtue of providing serious funding to the teams they race for.

As team-mates to professional drivers, the rich business tycoons race haphazardly bomb round at 200mph, possibly whilst considering spreadsheets and budget forecasts.
While no doubt an interesting subject, whether it’s one that is fascinating enough for an 1hr 20min documentary is up for debate.

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The 24-Hour War

24 Hour War poster

Motor sport fans were recently treated to a dramatic portrayal of Ford taking on Ferrari at Le Sarthe with Le Mans 66.

Three years prior to the Hollywood blockbuster came the well-received 24 Hour War documentary on the same subject.

From the archive

There’s a strong argument for saying 24 Hour War is the ‘real’ story of Le Mans.

Although the weigh-in of (at the time) the world’s biggest car maker taking on a tiny company from Maranello might seem a bit one-sided, it makes for a great tale nonetheless.

The film gives greater detail of the build-up to Le Mans ’66, detailing the GT40’s development and victories at other famous races, in addition to a fascinating history of the two marques’ opposing ideas towards racing. The continued rivalry that followed the first Ford win is also documented.

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Shelby: American

Carrol Shelby

Shelby helped mastermind Ford ’66 Le Mans victory

ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images

So you’ve watched The 24-Hour War, but now you want even more detail. Chassy Media, in addition to making motorsport documentaries on Willy T. Ribbs, Paul Newman and the above much-storied Ford vs Ferrari battle, outdo themselves again with a non-fiction film depicting the life of mechanic, engineer, designer and team owner Carroll Shelby.

An American racing hero, Shelby won Le Mans with Aston Martin in 1959, partnering Roy Salvadori before deciding to build his own car.

Shelby’s success would ultimately put him on a collision course with Enzo Ferrari, as the Ford Motor Company put him in charge of attempting to dethrone the Scuderia at Le Mans.

As the film puts it, Shelby had “a powerful idea that would change racing forever”. A riveting watch.

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