A look back at the racing movies of 2021

reel race is back after a return to normal (for the most part, at least) for movies in 2021, with audiences flocking to theaters to see blockbusters worth the wait like Spider-Man: No Coming Home, The Suicide Squad and the amazing Dunesas well as the 25th James Bond film in no time to diethat Daniel Craig was on hand to promote at Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in the fall.

The big screens also featured award contenders like Licorice Pizzaspectacular performances like Kristen Stewart, now Oscar nominee, in spencer and even a few quirks, including Ridley Scott’s phenomenal The last duel which somehow failed. It’s worth noting that unlike last year, when nine of my top 10 ended up being home watches, my 2021 list only has three (ESPN’s four parts Once upon a time in QueensSB Nation The history of the Atlanta Falcons and those eligible for the 2021 Oscars Judas and the Black Messiah).

Sports documentaries also abound. These were mostly at home, including queens and the Falcons miniseries, while a number of racing movies have also leaked (no, the ridiculously fun F9 does not count here).

None of these made it to theaters, but there were plenty to go.

Bully: The Lasting Legacy of Dale Earnhardt

The first of two E:60 ESPN features on motorsport in 2021, bully airing hours before the Daytona 500 on Valentine’s Day 2021.

As the season-opening race marked 20 years since Dale Earnhardt died on the last corner of the 2001 race, Ryan McGee made a documentary that chronicled the warning signs leading to Earnhardt’s crash , including the tragedies of Kenny Irwin Jr., Adam Petty and Tony Roper, adding interviews with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mike Helton and others.

The hour-long special also shed light on Ryan Newman’s horrific crash at the 2020 event and the safety upgrades that saved the No. 6 driver’s life. Not since Earnhardt 19 years ago, NASCAR had not held its collective breath, not even in 2015 at Daytona International Speedway, when Austin Dillon emerged minutes after flying into the catch fence. It was hours before any information was learned about Newman.

Interest in NASCAR safety history was more than renewed in the wake of Newman’s wreck, and the biggest changes, in turn, came in the wake of Earnhardt’s. Consisting of crash test footage and a moving interview with Newman, bullyThe narrative of skillfully spans 20 years and was a solid way to kick off the year in motorsport films.

While excellent, there’s something about being a sub-hour production that makes it feel like it leaves something to be desired.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Trackhouse: get ready

Recording a top five and four top 10 finishes in its debut season might have been enough for the Trackhouse Racing Team, but the Chevrolet team went from strength to strength by acquiring the assets of Chip Ganassi Racing and expanding to two cars. in 2022.

Daniel Suárez was its only driver in 2021, however, and in early March featured a 48-minute documentary about the creation of Trackhouse by former driver Justin Marks and rapper Pitbull. He dives into the creation of the team, Suárez and company preparing for the Daytona 500 and interviews with Suarez, Marks and Pitbull, while counting down to the season opener.

Intimate moments like team meetings and home clips of Suárez and his girlfriend Julia Piquet (daughter of three-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet and sister of three-time winner and former NASCAR driver Nelson Piquet Jr.) spice up the documentary , capped off by a segment of the #99 stable visiting Pitbull’s SLAM! School in Miami. Preparing and running the Daytona 500 is a big part of the runtime, with the Bluegreen Vacations Duel and 500 segment feeling like its own “radioactive” on Race Hub.

Although Suárez’s effort in the 500m came to an end 13 laps later, as he mostly escaped contact in the Big One but lost control and tore off the front bumper in the Daytona grass, the documentary also sheds light on the following two weeks. Suárez led two laps on the Daytona road course and scored a 16th-place finish, and the following week at Homestead-Miami Speedway finished 15th. The No.99 ended up finishing in the top 20 in more than half of the races in 2021, with Suárez finishing the year 25th in the standings.

There’s not so much in the documentary, from the genesis of the team to the third race of the year, but in all honesty to the production team, there wasn’t so much to work with only a few races completed. On the plus side, it ends up being a laser-focused narrative and that tight time frame helps it focus on the people involved.

Rating: 4/5 stars


hunt debuted on NBC’s Peacock streaming service in late August, a look back at Chase Elliott’s debut and his 2020 Cup Series championship season.

Curiously, it’s very similar to the Fernando Tatís Jr. documentary that MLB Network aired just over a month ago, Tatis: The Rise of El Niño. Both spotlight an athlete in his early to mid-twenties who quickly became a star in their respective sports, although there is a slight disconnect due to both subjects’ youth.

Both Elliott and Tatís are the sons of fathers who made their own marks in racing and baseball, respectively: Bill Elliott, of course, won the 1988 Cup championship and was a 16-time Most Popular Driver winner , while Tatís Sr. remains the only Major League Baseball player to complete two Grand Slams in a single run.

Unfortunately, this early success doesn’t translate into the most gripping documentaries – it just seems too early in the two subjects’ careers to make a long documentary about them, which is likely why they both arrive in less time. ‘one o’clock.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Renegades: NASCAR’s Bad Boys

As told by star of Almost Everything Scoot McNairy (of Quentin Tarantino Once upon a time in Hollywood to the winner of the best film 12 years of slavery to HBO Max’s Anna Kendrick Vehicle Love life), renegades was a glimpse of bad boys throughout NASCAR history.

Spanning decades, from racing days on the sand and eventual fights in the infield after the 1979 Daytona 500 to more recent rivalries, which include Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, the documentary features interviews with current pilots, media personalities like Front stretchof Steve Waid and actor Michael Rooker (Rowdy Burns in the 1990s thunder days).

It’s a well-crafted, if a bit obvious, 60-minute special in that it’s about stories we all pretty much already know and clips we’ve seen before.

I saw Taylor Sheridan’s Those who want me dead to the theater later the same day, so it was an afternoon full of renegades, I guess.

Rating: 3/5 stars


He was a seven-time Formula 1 champion, winner of 91 races and a total perfectionist in his craft.

Michael Schumacher’s journey took him from Jordan to Benetton to Ferrari on his first trip to the sport, most of his success coming with the latter, and a subsequent campaign with Mercedes before the company acquired Lewis Hamilton. team.

Schumacher won five consecutive championships from 2000 to 2004 and was a key cog in Ferrari’s revival as the team fell from its former glory.

There was also a lot of controversy surrounding Schumacher, most of it due to his obsessive perfectionism – one such moment saw him shaking his car when another driver tried to overtake, resulting in an accident. Schumacher was furious and only calmed down once he was shown the incident on video and realized he was at fault.

While we don’t get the insight we’d all like to have into Schumacher’s current state after his skiing accident, which has remained in the family for years, it’s a phenomenal portrait of one of the most great F1 drivers. On some level it differs from many racing documents in that it chronicles a driver who was considered a perfectionist and had so much controversy surrounding him, but it seems that it doesn’t quite achieve the uniqueness of entries like arrogant and Senna.

Rating: 4/5 stars

For a Fistful of Steel: The Rise of Bubba Wallace

E:60 racing documentaries ended the year in motorsport films, with steel handle debuts in mid-December.

The doc’s biggest advantage is that he doesn’t shy away from the racism and adversity that Bubba Wallace faced during his career. Sure, he’s diving into his early career and moving up the NASCAR ranks, but with Wallace the only black driver in NASCAR’s premier series and in the spotlight following the 2020 murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests , as well as the Talladega Superspeedway Incident, his status in the sport was even more pronounced.

McGee’s documentary follows the E:60 on Earnhardt, marking 2021 as a year in which he and ESPN showcased two drivers with two of the sport’s greatest profiles in their respective eras.

Best scene: When Wallace wins at Martinsville Speedway in 2014 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Wendell Scott’s family on hand, celebrating the first black driver to win in NASCAR history.

Again, like bullythe shorter runtime feels like something is missing, but a strong documentary nonetheless.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Outlook for 2022

We have RACE: Bubba Wallace, which hits Netflix Feb. 22, looking forward to it, while NASCAR has also revived plans for a docuseries with NBC. It will focus on the 2022 season and release later in the year.

Let’s hope it’s not just the two series on the program for 2022. We’ll see!

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