HomeMediaDocumentary shares the Shelby story, the real one

Documentary shares the Shelby story, the real one


Editor’s update: Shelby American can be viewed on Netflix.

Last week, in a small theater just off Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey, California, the rough cut of a documentary film made its debut. Though it will be overshadowed this fall when another film on the same topic figures to become a box-office hit, the one that auto enthusiasts will want to see is this one, titled Shelby American.

Two comments from the audience that got to share in the initial viewing: 

“One of the upcoming films will be entertaining and the other will be factual,” one viewer noted.

“Brutally honest,” said one audience member after the lights came back on.

The Hollywood-style and entertaining version opens in theaters on November 15. It’s Ford v Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. 

There are no movie star actors in Shelby American.  It’s purely a documentary that features vintage footage and more-recent interviews with those who were with Carroll Shelby during his colorful life, from family members and racers to members of the Ford family.

Shelby American is produced by comedian, vintage racer and car collector Carolla via his Chassy Media, and it is directed by his business partner Nate Adams, whose credits include screenwriting, films, television projects, commercials and even a video game. 

Carolla and Adams previously have produced Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman and The 24 Hour War, their documentary on the Ford vs. Ferrari competition at Le Mans, a film which now becomes a companion piece for Shelby American.

The new movie, currently set for release in late October, provides a documentary look at Shelby’s life and how he became an American icon. Carolla and Adams worked with the Shelby family for 18 months to fill in the blanks in the publicly known Shelby story. Many of the images in the movie, including some early racing movie footage, had long been hidden away and is being shared for the first time.

“He lived like five lives, and with a heart condition,” Adams said after the screening, adding that it was a challenge to tell that story as fully as possible while limiting the movie to less than 120 minutes.

We won’t go into any of the detail of what the documentary shares — and reveals — but we will say that even if you think you know the full story of Carroll Shelby, you will understand the man with renewed — and with new — understanding after watching this film.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Both of these films will be of GREAT interest to me as I worked at Carrol Shelby Sports Cars in Dallas just at the time Carrol was reaching the high plane of his driving career. Just as the Cobra was hitting the news Carrol personally offered to sell be a street version of a 427 Cobra.for (choke)$5,800. He also confided to me at the Texas State Fair,at the Cobra exhibit that the car on display was the only one that he had actually running tho he had been taking a lot of orders at thefair. This was the very car that was painted a number of times to give the appearance of the car being in full production and as they say "and the rest is history" and a great one. I doubt there ever will be another like him (rightl;y so I think)

  2. A truly remarkable American racing Icon, designer, automobile modifier, and performance enthusiast. His cars were always the leaders in looks and in speed potential. I’m always impressed with the many accomplishments which Carroll Shelby achieved. He was an original and despite health problems he pushed himself to be the best anyone could have imagined, except maybe himself.

  3. Carroll Shelby was the type of man that comes along only once in a lifetime. He lived life to the fullest and on his terms. The automobiles that he built were a reflection of his outlook on life for they encouraged their owners to drive right on that edge. Playing it safe was not his style.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -