If the name Ken Block doesn’t sound familiar to you, you might want to get to a computer and search YouTube for the word “Gymkhana.” Mr. Block has popularized the sport of gymkhana, which is sort of like gymnastics for your car.
Think of Gymkhana (jim-kah-nuh) as a more advanced version of autocross. In traditional autocross, drivers hone their skills by trying to set the best time around a track while avoiding obstacles such as cones. With Gymkhana, the goal is the same, however the courses are much more challenging and require precise moves such as drifting, 180-degree and 360 degree spins, figure 8s, and all sorts of other automotive acrobatics.
Ken Block has released a series of five Gymkhana videos thus far, which have racked up a combined 250 million (!) views. In the videos, he jumps, drifts, and spins his car to the limit, seemingly out of control yet remaining perfectly in control the entire time.
In his latest escapade, Gymkhana Five, Block tears around the city of San Francisco in a Ford Fiesta, jumping over hills and doing donuts between moving cable cars. Of course, this is not your average grocery-getter: this souped up 630HP Ford Fiesta will do 0 to 60 mph in a neck-snapping 1.8 seconds!
Block does more than slay tires for fun. He also races competitively in the World Rallycross Championship and co-founded DC Shoes with Damon Way in 1993. To be able to see this car up close and personal was a real treat, however, the best was yet to come!
While walking past the Ford booth, I spotted radio personality Adam Carolla addressing a growing crowd of people. Just as I was about to leave, he brought Ken Block on stage and interviewed him!
I listened for a few minutes as Carolla and Block chatted about being a professional driver and some other casual banter. They both seemed like normal, down-to-earth guys. It was certainly an unexpected surprise to run into them! I can’t wait to see what Block and his team come up with for their next video, but I’m certain it will be a good one.