As these weeks drag on, it’s quite possible you’re running out of things to keep you occupied while sheltering in place. Car enthusiasts and even the slightly automotively inclined will know about “Top Gear” and “The Grand Tour,” but there’s tons of lesser-known automotive entertainment out there that’s streaming right now. If you’ve got some downtime, check out these excellent movies, shows, and documentaries.
Shows & series
Formula 1: Drive to survive
This groundbreaking Netflix series covers the last two Formula 1 seasons, giving unprecedented behind-the-scenes access with the drivers and teams as they move through the grueling F1 race calendar. For those unfamiliar with Formula 1, it’s a fascinating view into the glamorous and cutthroat world of the top racing series on Earth, introducing you to all the characters and storylines that make the sport so exciting. For F1 fans, “Drive to Survive” is the best way to get their racing fix and relive the last two seasons while the 2020 season is on hold. The shots are beautiful, the drama is big, and the stakes are high.
Michael Fassbender: Road to Le Mans
Follow actor Michael Fassbender as he drives a Porsche GT3 Cup car, practicing and preparing to participate in the granddaddy of all races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This six-episode Youtube series produced by Porsche shows all the pain, humility, and grit it takes to compete at the highest level of endurance racing, following Fassbender as the latest Hollywood-star-turned-gentleman-racer to attempt a run at Le Mans.
The Gymkhana Files
If the word Gymkhana doesn’t mean anything to you, stop and watch a few of these incredible videos. Rally driver Ken Block’s legendary Gymkhana series showcases the most jaw-dropping driving stunts in the craziest places imaginable and has been one of the best things on the internet for many years. Now, this eight-episode Amazon original series follows Block and his team as they prepare for and film the latest entry, Gymkhana Ten. It’s just about the coolest driving content there is, so strap in, hold on, and don’t try any of that at home.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
This wonderful show has been around for a number of seasons now, and if you haven’t dived into it yet, you’re really missing out. It showcases Jerry Seinfeld in his most comfortable state: behind the wheel of a classic car, talking with another comedian, with no audience. Every big comedian you can possibly think of has been on this show, and the cars are pretty fantastic too. “Comedians in Cars” was formerly on Crackle but now graces the endless scroll of Netflix.
Abstract: the Art of Design
“Abstract: the Art of Design” is a riveting Netflix original series that explores different areas and styles of design. Episode five of season one delves into the world of automotive design through Ralph Gilles, Head of Global Design for FCA. The episode recounts Gilles’ meteoric rise to the top of automotive design, while following the development process of a Chrysler concept car to illustrate the intense effort it takes to bring an automobile from drawing to reality.
Grand Prix Driver
Similar to “Drive to Survive,” this Amazon Prime series gives incredible and exclusive access into the world of Formula 1, focusing on one of racing’s marquee teams, McLaren, as they shuffle their drivers and develop their car in preparation for the 2017 F1 season. This kind of exposure is unusual in the highly secretive sport, and the series’s interviews and soundbites underscore the pressure that teams and drivers endure even before the year’s races begin.
Movies & documentaries
Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stuntman and criminal getaway driver in this exhilarating LA noir thriller. “Drive” is tense and moody with explosions of ultra-violence, but it’s far darker and more surreal than your average shoot-em-up heist movie. The driving sequences are solid, and the film really stands out for its suspenseful pace and super stylish visuals. You can catch it on Netflix.
Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story
Willy T. Ribbs was the Jackie Robinson of racing, competing in multiple different series through the eighties and nineties and becoming the first black man to race in the Indy 500. This fascinating documentary on Netflix recounts the challenges, frustrations, and dangers of navigating a racing career as a black man in a sport that requires lots of money and has an especially tradition-focused culture. Though racing has made lots of progress since Ribbs competed at Indy in 1991, many of his lessons and experiences still ring true today.
You’ll have to rent it on Redbox or Amazon Prime, but “Baby Driver” is the best heist movie since “The Town.” Even if you saw it in theaters, it’s worth a rewatch. This Edgar Wright film is exciting, funny, and thought-provoking all at once. It has a killer cast, an exceptional soundtrack, and some of the best and most realistic driving stunts of the century. Perfect entertainment for a Saturday night at home.
This is the conclusive documentary on American racing legend Carroll Shelby. With copious interviews and comprehensive archival footage, “Shelby American” tells the story of Shelby’s life, from his upbringing to driving career to the Le Mans races with Ford and exploits as an entrepreneur. Watch the doc on Netflix for a perfectly detailed follow up to “Ford v Ferrari.”
“Fast Five” is one of the more complete Fast & Furious movies and is arguably the one that brought the franchise out of a tailspin. It’s loud, excessive, funny, and features too many characters with a convoluted plot. In other words, a perfect Fast & Furious movie. This is the one that introduced the Rock to the franchise, and includes a fabulously over-the-top fist fight between him and Vin Diesel. You can stream “Fast Five” on HBO right now.
APEX: The Story of the Hypercar
This 2016 film from The Drive is a love letter to the fastest, most extreme, and most expensive automobiles in the world. In the dawn of the hypercar era (that’s now), APEX explores the science, passion, and business behind building the most advanced road cars in history. The film covers halo cars from Ferrari, McLaren, and Pagani, but leans on special access to Swedish carmaker Koenigsegg during the creation of the incredible 1,340-horsepower Koenigsegg One:1. If you like fast and shiny machines, this doc on Netflix is a must.