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Ken Block’s Gymkhana Series Keeps on Ripping

Cult of Gymkhana

The first Gymkhana video in 2008 introduced us to a tire-destroying spectacle that has spawned seven sequels, the most recent installment earning more than a million YouTube views in less than 24 hours. The series' success is thanks to the man behind the wheel, DC Shoes co-founder and rally driver Ken Block, who explains how he turned hooning into an automotive cultural phenomenon.

AM: Did the first Gymkhana's success surprise you?

KB: The first Gymkhana video did something like 10 million views in a month, and that was the biggest video we'd ever had like that, for me or even DC Shoes. So that was pretty wild. But from there on out we've just tried to keep that momentum going.

AM: How has your driving choreography evolved?

KB: Well, the difficult thing is that I'm a race car driver, not a stunt driver, and all the things I do in these videos are basically based off the skills that I have coming out of stage rally and rallycross. I'm really trying to manipulate and have fun with the car, but in a way that relates to what I do racing-wise. I could start getting really, you know, stunt driver-ish, doing loops and barrel rolls and stuff, but I just really don't have any interest in that.

AM: Have you had any "uh oh" moments?

KB: I'm really lucky that we haven't had very many accidents or anything with these videos. We've damaged some fenders and some front and rear bumpers, but that's just the reality of trying to get within inches of a wall or obstacle. In "Gymkhana Eight," when that Raptor was up on two wheels, it was gnarly. I had to mentally calculate every time how fast he was going, how fast I could turn and slide the car and get in front of him and get away from him.

AM: You must go through a lot of GoPros.

KB: (Laughs) Luckily GoPro is a sponsor, and they've been very good about supplying us with everything we possibly need and even sending people to help operate the cameras. Without all these really tiny cameras and the ease of filming with them, we wouldn't be able to get some of the shots we've been getting nowadays.

AM: When do you see the series coming to an end?

KB: I think that I'll either run out of ideas or people will just get bored and stop watching, and I'll be forced to stop doing them. But as long as I can still do them and do them in a creative way, I'll keep making them. Will there be a "Gymkhana 39"? I kind of doubt that, because I think I'll run out of ideas by then. (Laughs)

Gymkhana (pronounced jim-kah-nuh):
A timed equestrian competition in which riders memorize a course, perform intricate maneuvers, and race against the clock; the format is mirrored by motorsports.

GoPros used in "Gymkhana Eight": 60

GoPros killed in "Gymkhana Eight": 11

Tires used in "Gymkhana Eight": 48

Total series views: well over 300 million

Cars used in the series: Subaru WRX STI, Ford Fiesta, Ford Mustang, Ford Focus

Average cost of a Gymkhana car: $600,000

Combined horsepower of all Gymkhana cars: 5,331

Meet the Ford Focus RS RX
Block debuted his new rally car, the Ford Focus RS RX, in "Gymkhana Eight." Ford Performance and British rally car builder M-Sport made the RX to compete in the FIA World Rallycross Championship and be the star of next year's "Gymkhana Nine" video. The heavily modified 2.0-liter turbo-four produces 600 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque.

Gymkhana 1-8: A Brief History

DC shoes: Ken Block Gymkhana Practice

Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Location: Los Angeles
Debut: 2009
Total views: 15 million

Gymkhana Two: The Infomercial

Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Location: Los Angeles
Debut: 2009
Total views: 47 million

Gymkhana Three, Part 2: Ultimate Playground

Vehicle: 2011 Ford Fiesta ST
Location: Autodrome, Linas-Montlhéry, France
Debut: 2010
Total views: 61 million

Gymkhana Four: The Hollywood Megamercial

Vehicle: 2011 Ford Fiesta ST
Location: Universal Studios Hollywood
Debut: 2011
Total views: 28 million

Gymkhana Five: Ultimate Urban Playground

Vehicle: 2012 Ford Fiesta HFHV
Location: San Francisco
Debut: 2012
Total views: 84 million

Need for speed: Gymkhana Six—Ultimate Gymkhana Grid Course

Vehicle: 2013 Ford Fiesta ST RX43
Location: San Bernardino, CA
Debut: 2013
Total views: 34 million

[Hoonigan]: Gymkhana Seven: Wild in the Streets of Los Angeles

Vehicle: 1965 Ford Mustang Hoonicorn
Location: Los Angeles
Debut: 2014
Total views: 35 million

Gymkhana Eight: Ultimate Exotic Playground

Vehicle: 2015 Ford Fiesta ST RX43
Location: Dubai
Debut: 2016
Total views: 16 million