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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 15 August, 2020

8 of the greatest motorsport documentaries ever filmed

Fascinating and fast, these movies are a must for motorsport fans.

Image: YouTube

IF YOU LOVE motorsport, you’ll love these films.

In fact, even if you don’t know anything about motorsport, you’ll love these movies.

They are factual, fascinating and fast paced. Not only are they thrilling to watch, but they are educational and you learn so much about the history of the sport and the people that helped shaped and defined it.

1. Ferrari 312B: Where The Revolution Begins

Source: Mike Hayward

In cinemas now is a new documentary called Ferrari 312B: Where The Revolution Begins. The film’s narrative neatly intertwines two stories – one of the 1970 Formula One season, which saw the Ferrari 312B compete, and the other following a group of motorsport enthusiast as they attempt to rebuild the 312B in time for the 2016 Monaco Historic Grand Prix.

The documentary’s director, Andrea Marini, skilfully blends historical footage with modern day shots of the car’s restoration and interviews with Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill and other key figures in Formula One and Scuderia Ferrari Racing. The documentary is sure to be a hit with the Tifosi as well as motorsport fans and those who just love a good documentary.

2. On Any Sunday

Source: YouTube

The movie from 1971 follows a group of motorcyclists, including legendary riders Malcolm Smith and Mert Lawwill and legendary actor Steve McQueen, and attempts to show the unique skills required for different motorcycle disciplines.

With a very upbeat and sunny tone, this documentary did a lot to change the perception that motorbikes were just for gang members. It showed that bikers were out to have a good time and riding was good fun and addictive. Not even broken bones can keep these riders from getting on their bikes.

A strong point of the documentary is the heartfelt stories of real-life riders and the wonderful cinematic techniques that director Bruce Brown uses to bring the viewer into the world of motorbiking. It’s intoxicating. As soon as you finish watching you’ll want to take up the sport too.

3. Easier Said Than Done

Source: Bangers&Matt/YouTube

The documentary follows Chris Duplessis as he tries to break into the World Rally Championship. Easier Said Than Done is explores the difficulty of competition and the community that surrounds rallying, in a truly visceral way.

There are far too many close calls and nerve wracking driving sequences. The stunning rally footage is mixed in with commentary from current rally drivers, including Ken Block and Petter Solberg.

4. TT: Closer to the Edge

Source: BlockbusterUK/YouTube

This is a skilfully made documentary about the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, the most dangerous and most deadly race in the sport. The race footage in this documentary is some of the most spectacular you’ll find anywhere and some of the most thrilling and terrifying.

One of the best things about this film however is the lovable, colourful Guy Martin who’s passion and enthusiasm for the sport goes a little towards explaining why modern TT riders still risk their lives. This is truly a heart-stopping documentary and you are rooting for Guy throughout.

5. The 24 Hour War

Source: Movieclips Film Festivals & Indie Films/YouTube

This film is one that really will appeal to those who don’t even like motorsport. It focuses on the Ford-Ferrari war that took pace during the 24 Hour Le Mans races in the 1960s.

Basically, in the 1960s Ford tried to buy the Ferrari company but Enzo Ferrari blocked the sale at the last minute. Henry Ford II then vowed to get even by putting a stop to Ferrari’s unbroken, five-year winning streak at La Sarthe.

He did this, and then some. Ford won the the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966, 67, 68 and 69. Ferrari never won a Le Mans race again and Ford never entered another until 2016.

6. Fastest

Source: Cinedigm/YouTube

Another adrenaline fuelled documentary about motorbike racing and the follow up to Faster. Ewan McGregor narrates this chronicle of the fastest MotoGP racers as they battle for supremacy.

Will Valentino Rossi win his 10th World Championship? Watching Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo race is like watching a ballet or synchronised swimming. It’s remarkable. There is also an inadvertent air of sadness when watching footage of Marco Simoncelli.

7. Road

Source: Madman Films/YouTube

If it is heart-in-the-mouth, edge-of-the-seat drama that you are after then Road certainly delivers. Watching it is an ordeal and you are left emotionally drained by the end!

The movie is narrated by Liam Neeson and tells the dramatic and poignant story of two sets of brothers from Northern Ireland who have dominated road racing for over thirty years. Those brothers are Joey and Robert Dunlop, and Robert’s sons Michael and William. The movie looks at the impact and sacrifices that road racing makes on a family. The film not only captures the many successes of the Dunlop family but also the many tragedies, too.

The racing footage in this film is sometimes hard to watch. You know that the riders are skilful but you also know that death is just split second away.

8. Senna

Source: Universal Pictures UK/YouTube

Senna follows the life and racing genius of Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna. When I first watched Senna I got the biggest shock of my life. I wasn’t big into motorsport at the time so I knew very little about Senna. Even so, the film was gripping. Senna was so charming. He was kind and personable and I got to know and like him through the footage. On the track he was unstoppable. And then he was stopped.

The scene where Senna crashes at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix will break your heart.

Senna is one of the more emotional motorsport documentaries out there. It is fantastic documentary film making.

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Melanie May  /

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