Ken Block Talks!
Why did you choose San Fran as the new location?
Part of the fun for me is finding places where I can drive my car like this. Believe it or not, it’s actually quite difficult because I have quite a few crazy ideas and they don’t always translate into workable situations. I’ve always wanted to take a Gymkhana to the city and there aren’t many better than San Francisco. So many cool movies have been shot there and one of my favourite car chases, Bullit, was filmed there. We were able to get exactly what I wanted which is great, because I thought some of the ideas were too crazy.
What makes the city so cool?
I was able to drift around so many different locations. We were allowed in the financial district, filming while people were working. Then we went off to residential areas and even on a barge that was parked down on the piers down by the ocean. Using the streets as jumps was the coolest thing, leaping from inclines and landing on flats. I also managed to pull off my first drifting jump, where I drifted round a corner and made the car get air.
You said ideas were too crazy, did any get scrapped?
Not really! I worked around everything that I wanted to do. I managed to get to take a barge out during the middle of the day and film on a moving barge. I didn’t think that was capable but they let me do it which is really cool.
Did anything go terribly wrong?
It was pretty straightforward shooting on this one. I had one little incident where I managed to snap a rim in half by hitting a massive rock. I blame the cameraman, we had to retake a scene that I’d driven perfectly but he’d missed the shot. When I re-took the shot, I hit a rock and broke a rim in half. Luckily I didn’t crash into anything.
How did the inhabitants of San Fran take to you tearing up their streets?
All the other Gymkhanas we’ve done have been on closed sets, on private land so no one gets to see what we’ve done until the film hits the web. But in San Fran it was different, people had their phones out trying to capture a bit of footage to increase their YouTube hits.
The American Top Gear lads managed to do a 360 loop in a car recently, gutted you didn’t think of it?
I’m not really interested in tricks like that. I like to show off skills I’ve picked up from rallying and the real meaning of car handling. A loop like that is pretty silly, it’s been done before and it doesn’t really involved much skill apart from holding a car at a certain speed. I’m not dissing those guys, it’s entertaining, but my stuff is more precise and controlled.
There’s a lot of ’80s hair metal in the videos, are you obsessed with the genre?
Ha ha, it’s not my personal taste in music but it fits the attitude of what we’re doing at the time. I don’t want to force my taste upon the viewers, the songs have to match the badasss attitude of the videos.
Ever thought about doing Gymkhana on a different surface, like the side of a volcano?
I’ve thought about it, yeah. But nothing really looks as good as tyres smoking on tarmac. Seeing that on dirt or mud doesn’t look as good and the standard of driving just wouldn’t be the same. I’ve considered doing it in different vehicles, using other rally cars and so on.
What do other drivers think of your videos?
They’re cool and always give me good feedback, I’m good friends with a lot of them. The rally guys, like Sebastien Loeb, are always asking me to be in the next film. They like the freedom I have, the fact nothing is timed and I just get to drive the car how I want. Who knows, in the future some of those guys might feature.
Will there be a Gymkhana 6?
As long as DC keeps getting the viral hits they’re getting I’ll hope they keep paying for me to go out and have fun making these films. I haven’t thought about locations yet but we always go bigger and better.
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