We’re facing the inevitable: weeks stuck inside with only our partners, pets and computers to keep us company. And there are only so many times you can throw that ball for Fido before you both get bored…
The best car movies and series to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
It’s a daunting thought, but one that is made slightly better by the sheer number of excellent racing movies and documentaries available to watch online for free (or near enough).
However, it’s usually as soon as you hit the sofa that you mind draws a blank, and you can’t decide what to watch. So, let us help you… Here are our top ten racing movies to get you through these very strange times indeed.
Warning: there are one or two spoilers…
Rush – Netflix
A classic, and no doubt Netflix’s go-to racing film, Rush, directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code) tells the real-life story of James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Laudas’ (Daniel Brühl) during Formula 1's most glamorous era. The film follows their burgeoning rivalry between the pair through the early and mid-1970s, with the cool and composed Austrian Lauda clashing with the suave Brit Hunt.
The film culminates with the events of the 1976 season, in which Lauda crashes heavily at the German Grand Prix and suffers horrendous third-degree burns. Despite his injuries, he returns to Formula 1 just six weeks later to challenge Hunt in the Italian GP. The duel continues throughout the remainder of the season, with Hunt ultimately clinching the title by a single point.
Yes, Formula 1 buffs might find some historical inaccuracies and the odd over-exaggeration (Hunt and Lauda, were, in fact, friends, and even shared a flat together for a time; they weren't mortal enemies as the film suggests). But the cinematography is spectacular, and Hemsworth’s but particularly Brühl’s portrayal of Hunt and Lauda respectively are flawless. It’s a Formula 1 film that anyone can watch and enjoy.
The 24 Hour War – Netflix
A precursor to the recently released Le Mans ’66, The 24 Hour War tells the story of the one of racing’s most famous rivalries, that between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari during the 1960s.
The historical documentary chronicles the events that led to their battle for supremacy at Le Mans, starting with Ford’s attempt to buy Ferrari in 1963, to which Enzo Ferrari said no, thus causing Ford to vow to build a car to beat the Italians on track: the GT40. For fans of the ultimate 24-hour endurance battle, this is a must see.
Formula 1: Drive to Survive – Netflix
A docuseries rather than a film, Formula 1: Drive to Survive gives a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at the world’s largest most high-profile, glamorous racing series in the world.
Produced by James Gay-Rees, the man behind Senna (sadly unavailable on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video), the series focuses on the faces behind the races, delving into the relationships between the drivers, teams and their families.
The first 10-part series launched last year, with the second, which covers the 2019 season released at the end of last month. So, with the 2020 F1 calendar put on hold, you can relive last year’s Championship from a completely different perspective – you’ll be able to see just how frosty things became within Williams when the FW42 wasn’t ready for pre-season testing, how angry but composed Toto Wolf was when the German Grand Prix went so wrong for the Mercedes team, and how Nico Hülkenberg coped with the growing knowledge that 2019 could be his last season in Formula 1.
Top Gear – Netflix
While admittedly not entirely centred around racing, Top Gear is a staple of any petrolhead’s library. And Netflix has 17 glorious seasons to enjoy, 15 of which feature the show most famous trio: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Join the three reprobates as they road test cars both new and old, and take on daring roadtrips that often spell disaster. If you’re fed up of your other half binge watching Friends, then here is your chance to get your own back…
APEX: The Story of the Hypercar – Netflix
Released in 2015, APEX: The Story of the Hypercar is a behind the scenes look at a the relatively new world of the hypercar. You’ll see how hard manufacturers have to push to create the world’s fastest, most expensive, most powerful and most exclusive cars in the world, following the development of the Porsche 918 Spyder, the Ferrari Enzo, the Pagani Huayra, the McLaren P1 and the Koenigsegg One:1. Watch it, watch it, watch it.
Yellow Yellow Yellow: The IndyCar Safety Team – Amazon Prime Video
Yellow Yellow Yellow: The IndyCar Safety Team focuses on one fateful day in 2015 for IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe, when a crash in practice for the Indy 500 nearly cost him his life. Luckily, the Homaltro Safety Team was on hand, ready to spring into action, using techniques learnt from decades on the front line of racing to protect and rescue Hinchcliffe.
Free on Amazon Prime Video, this is a sobering insight into the safety heroes behind the scenes. Alternatively, buy it for £4.99 without a Prime Video membership.
I, Superbiker – Amazon Prime Video
Delving into two-wheeled territory, I, Superbiker is an excellent insight into the brutal world of motorcycle racing.
Directed by Mark Sloper, it follows four riders, Tommy Hill, James Ellison, Josh Brookes and Gary Mason, through the 2010 British Superbike Championship. Consecutive episodes document the following seasons, with new talent working their way up to challenge the rankings.
Regularly reaching in excess of 200mph, these incredibly talented riders push themselves to the brink in order to realise the film’s strapline of 'Only one can be the true champion'. But behind the scenes, wives, girlfriends and teams are as vital to their success as the riders themselves.
There are five episodes to watch on Amazon Prime Video, or if you don’t have a membership you can watch each episode for £1.49.
Road – Amazon Prime Video
And while we’re on the topic of two wheels, take a look at Road, which tells the incredible tale of the Dunlop family’s obsession with the world’s most dangerous motorsport.
Narrated by none other than Liam Neeson, it documents the two generations of Dunlop brothers – Joey and Robert, then Robert’s two sons William and Michael – and their unwavering devotion to road racing. Travelling at speeds of more than 200mph through narrow country roads, the risks are immeasurable, and the crashes often fatal. At the time of filming in 2014, both Joey and Robert had been lost to the roads, with the family later losing William to a crash at the 2018 Skerries 100 in County Dublin.
Road is as heart-breaking as it is inspiring, chronicling the incredible talent of a Northern Ireland family who have dominated road racing for over thirty years, with more than 50 TT wins between them.
Directed by Michael Hewitt and Dermot Lavery, it’s available to Amazon Prime Video members for free or, without a membership, you can rent it for £1.99 or buy it for £3.99.
The Grand Tour – Amazon Prime Video
As Amazon is to Netflix, The Grand Tour is to Top Gear. They’re basically the same thing, with similar content, from the same people. That being said, Amazon’s budget was rumoured to be somewhat larger than that of the BBC’s, so The Grand Tour is sometimes a little grander.
If you’ve exhausted all 17 series of Top Gear available on Netflix, then why not cast your eyes over to Amazon Prime and pick up where the troublesome trio left off with season one of the Grand Tour.
Travel around the world with Clarkson, Hammond and May from the comfort of your own sofa, with almost 40 episodes of quality motoring mayhem, all free with Amazon Prime Video.
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