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Published on Wed, Nov 13, 2019

By: Doug Stokes

11.14. 19 … ln light of the imminent debut of the feature film “Ford v Ferrari”,  fans (and non-fans as well) should also be aware of a new and highly-accurate documentary about the life and times of Carroll Shelby which goes on sale November 19th. -Doug Stokes Editor-at-Large

Called, quite simply, “Shelby American”, it features some terrific archival footage, along with a strong roster of the people who were there and who each played an active (and in many cases integral) part of the Shelby story.

There’s no make-up, no CGI, and no “adjusting” the facts one way or another to make for a better Burbank, er … Hollywood, movie story. The producers at Chassy Media have done a class job of dealing with the legendary Texan who stood the racing world on its collective ear more than once.

READER’S NOTE: Please, if you’ll accommodate me here, after every other paragraph below, simply say to yourself: “You can’t make this stuff up!” I ask that because this documentary, when you see it, is going to almost need that sort of assurance. None of this film is made up … believe your eyes and ears and understand why this guy is an authentic motorsports legend.

… You know how a CGI scene in a movie is startling a first and then you sort of get over the initial shock and sort of end up feeling a bit cheated because CGI (particularly in action movies) never tries to look real … it goes for hyper-real and that’s fun for a while. It not only gets old it gets (worse) predictable, right?

Well, you’ll not find any of that stuff in “Shelby American”. As I said at the outset, the footage and the stills are great and the use and placement of them in this well-designed film, is even better.

Within a tick of running two full hours (1:58.34) there’s not a boring or wasted minute in the bunch, and hearing from people like Bill Krause, Peter Brock, Bob Bondurant, Edsel Ford II, Henry Ford II, John Morton, Mario Andretti, A, J. Baime, John Clinard, and the late Dan Gurney along with Shelby’s two sons and his grandson presents a pretty accurate picture of the tall guy in the with the weathered western hat and the farmer overhauls (those pin-striped “farmer pants” early-on functioning as Shelby’s trademark race-driving gear).

This one won’t be in “a theater near you” so you’ll have to head over to the site and order a copy. The good part about that is that, you, as I’ve been doing, will be able to run a scene back and listen closer or look harder. It also means that you can lend the video to a friend (be sure that it is clearly marked with your name as the owner).

…I spoke briefly to Nate Adams at Chassy Media in Burbank, Adams is the producing partner of company founder Adam Carolla and worked with Carolla on two other strong motorsports documentaries prior to this one: “Winning, the Life of Paul Newman” and “The 24-hour War” which won the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor Award for film in 2016.

Adams told me how impressed he was with the sort of cooperation that his team got from everyone that they made contact with in the making of this very special film. It seems that everyone of a certain age has a Shelby story to tell and they were quite willing to share it.

I’ve got a couple (that I’ll bore you with in-person some day if you’re “lucky”) myself … but the best one (for me anyway) was the film’s final scene. It’s a 427 Cobra doing a baker’s dozen or so smokey doughnuts in the empty infield of what looks to be a racetrack.

It, in fact, is a racetrack, one that I worked at, and I was there, just off-camera, when Mister Shelby decided to have a little fun dancing with one of his old girlfriends. It was magic then, and to be reminded once again of that day and that man by this important documentary was pretty damn special.

See his likes again? No. No matter how anyone could try, there will never be another motorsports character so colorful, so road-smart, so savvy, so charming, so vexing (and for more than a few), so easy to like and be pissed-off at as the same time.

This excellent screen capture of Mister Shelby is a hell of a great shot at showing/saying who he was, I recommend it, and I’m going to watch my review copy again tonight. – DS


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