Bankruptcy Blues? Ken Block to the Rescue

By Kevin Gordon

06.10.2009

43Right now in the media, anything to do with automotive news is coupled with news about bankruptcy, bailouts, dealership closure, and the end of the automotive industry as we know it. It has been a difficult and depressing time to be an automotive enthusiast. Being that there is so much automotive news, it could be argued that it is a good time to be an automotive journalist, but one can only get so excited about the sky falling. Since everything has been so gloomy, it is a great time for a 566hp (at the wheels) Subaru WRX STi to rip through multiple sets of BFGs for your enjoyment.

Ken Block co-founded DC Shoes with professional skateboarder Danny Way in 1994. A year after the start of DC Block began competing in the Rally America National Rally Championship. Since that time he and Travis Pastrana (of supercross/freestyle motocross fame) have become the public face of United States rallying. US rallying is better for their efforts to bring the sport to light. So much so, that rally became an event in the ESPN X Games. Much like my previous rant about Formula One, rallying is one of those automotive endeavors that requires true talent and a steel set of ball bearings. Ken Block has not only become a truly talented driver, he is also an excellent marketer. To help publicize his company, he sponsors his own rally car and he has used his car to create some incredible videos.  The term ‘viral video’ is extremely overused these days; anything that grabs 100,000 views on YouTube is labeled as “going viral.” Well, DC Shoes co-founder Ken Block has been in the center of a few truly viral videos.

The public launch of Block’s video career can be traced back to the Discovery Channel show Stunt Junkies. On the show he jumped his WRX STi 171 feet.

Next, he transported his Subaru to New Zealand for a romp around Snow Park. Here Block jumped his STi off of snow jumps in concert with snowboarders doing tricks. Then true automotive magic happened. Ken Block’s Gymkhana practice video was loaded onto the internet and millions of people were exposed to this new type of automotive expression.

For those unfamiliar with Gymkhana [Pronounced jim-kah-nah]; the word is quite old (traced back to the 1860s from the hindi word for ball-house), and can be found in the dictionary with first line definition of: “a field day held for equestrians, consisting of exhibitions of horsemanship and much pageantry.”  In today’s vernacular, gymkhana is defined as: “a time contest for automobiles featuring a series of events designed to test driving skill.”

For many viewing gymkhana practice was impressive, for others it was life changing. The amount of control, skill, and power involved is mind warping. Who would have really imagined it was possible to slide an all wheel drive car backwards around a cone while vaporizing all four tires, while in complete control of the car. This performance set the bar at a new height and it was only a matter of time before someone topped it.

Ken Block decided it was time to raise the bar. In his second gymkhana practice video he went in slightly new direction. In this iteration, Block added an extra layer of theatrics, but the basic premise of a rip snorting boxer four being tossed around with mind boggling precision remains. After watching the video multiple times, you start to notice how many lines of rubber are laid down in some of the camera shots. This was not a simple shoot, and the end result deserves an award. This is absolute automotive nirvana and the antidote to the bankruptcy blues.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Kevin Gordon

Kevin is Autosavant's owner and Editor-in-Chief, responsible for setting the overall strategy and editorial direction of Autosavant. He's also the primary contributor to Autosavant's YouTube channel (youtube.com/autosavant) where you can find a comprehensive library of new-car reviews.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow, now THAT is some amazing driving. I don’t think I could ever drive like that even practicing 24 hours a day. Impressive.

  2. Now that looks like huge fun.

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