I’ve posted a few of Ken Block’s Gymkhana (a Hindi-Urdu word meaning “a place where skill-based contests were held”) videos before. He’s outdone himself again with his latest video: Ken Block’s Gymkhana Five: Ultimate Urban Playground; San Francisco.
We all remember the classic car chase scenes in San Francisco like Steve McQueen’s Bullitt chase scene in 1968 or Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal’s screwball delivery bicycle chase scene from 1972’s What’s Up Doc? While this isn’t a “chase” video, it sure brings San Francisco’s stunning scenery and unique typography to life. You’ll recognize many of the streets from other films. The one street conspicuously missing is Lombard St. I’m betting that neither the City nor the residents of Lombard St wanted their picturesque street marred by tire marks and it was probably too dangerous considering how close the homes are to the street.
Mr. Block’s amazing, death-defying driving skills include speed, drifting, sailing (trust me, you’ll know what I mean when you watch the video) and jumping. This time, Mr. Block is driving a heavily-modified Ford Fiesta HFHV (no you can’t buy it in any Ford showroom). How the producers got so many streets in San Francisco shut down with few, if any residents looking on is beyond me. This wasn’t a big Hollywood big-budget movie, this was a video produced for YouTube with a very specific audience – and no one is paying to see it. Sure he had big sponsors like Ford Motor Company and DC Shoes; but it had to cost big bucks to make it happen. There must be a corresponding big payback for his sponsors!
There are other unanswered questions. For instance, how many practice runs and takes were involved to make this 9 minute, 51 second video? You can tell from the skid marks on the streets in the same places that there were many practice runs. I’d like to know how many sets of tires were shredded during the shoot. It seems like just one short run would heat up and burn away even the best professional drifting tires. Then there is the issue of how many cars and how many engines/transmissions died to make this video? I don’t think it’s the same vehicle in all the shots. And of course, I’d like to know how much it cost to produce.
But all this really is just mental masturbation when you watch this awesome finished video. What next – a real chase scene? I can’t wait!