'Shelby American' documentary tells the outsized truth about Carroll Shelby

Jonathon Ramsey

The cineplex version of Carroll Shelby's generalissimo charge into Europe with Ken Miles and a Ford GT40, otherwise known as "Ford v Ferrari," won the weekend box office. Due to a desire to put the best story on screen within the allotted run time, that film edited some of the events and facts out of the tale. If there's one thing Carroll Shelby's life didn't need, though, it's creative license. The story of how the son of a rural mail carrier became an enthusiast icon is just as outrageous as any movie because it's true, and a new documentary by Adam Carolla and business partner Nate Adams called "Shelby American" tells the man's biography straight. 

In 2016, Carolla and Adams released the doc "The 24 Hour War," their telling of the Le Mans showdown between the GT40 and Ferraris. While putting that film together, the two learned so much about Shelby that they approached the Shelby family about doing another film focused on the Texan's story. Adams said, "The more research we did, the more we learned Carroll Shelby was an amazing character. It wasn't just him; it was Phil Remington, Peter Brock, Charlie Agapiou, and the others he surrounded himself with. They were all incredible. We knew we had to devote an entire doc to him."

The film team worked with Carroll's relatives for another 18 months to get more detail on his life, and carried out more interviews with the man's colleagues and competitors. The two-hour-long "Shelby American" has new vintage racing footage. There are interviews with members of Ferrari's Le Mans team including Piero Ferrari, John Surtees, and Mauro Forghieri, a vital part of the history often overlooked with the hubbub around the race. There are more interview clips from Henry Ford II and new interviews with Edsel Ford II, as well as designer Peter Brock, Bill Krause, who raced drove the Cobra in its first race, the late Dan Gurney, and longtime Ford exec John Clinard who'd go on to father the original Cars & Coffee event, and more. 

Two of the comments made by viewers at a private screening were, "Brutally honest," and, "One of the upcoming films will be entertaining and the other will be factual." But the best quote is this, from the man himself in the "Shelby American" trailer, after winning Le Mans and referring to the heart issue he'd had since the age of seven: "They told me I had five years to live. I figured, so what? I might as well try to build the car that I'd dreamed of." 

There's every reason to see both films. When you're ready for the factual version head to Carolla's Chassy Media site, where the documentary is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and as a streaming download. While you're there, you might as well pick up "The 24 Hour War," too.