Ken Block’s Gymkhana Videos Changed My Life

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It’s 2012. You’re a budding car enthusiast in high school, about to turn 16, who grew up on vintage racing and stories of British muscle cars and roadsters. You might not have your license yet, but you’re already dreaming of your first car – a beat-up K5 Blazer, perhaps, or a latest-generation Firebird. Then your favorite automotive website presents you with something called “Gymkhanaand your whole life changes.


Alright, alright, I admit it – this paragraph is not about you. It’s about me and how I discovered the work of Ken Block, who died in a tragic snowmobile accident this week at the age of 55. With one video, he completely changed my perspective on the world of cars, single-handedly reinventing my idea of ​​what was cool to do with four wheels. With each Gymkhana that followed, Ken introduced me to parts of the automotive world I had only known in passing, broadening my horizons on this hobby we all share.

Of course I grew up with The fast and the furious, but Gymkhana was my introduction to real drifting. It showed a real car, on real city streets, doing the kind of stunts I had only ever seen in Hollywood productions. Ken showed a young Steve that these things could really happen – and showed that regular sedans could be more interesting than any V8-powered vintage racer.

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In the years that followed, my automotive tastes changed. The restomods I watched as a kid have given way to a random assortment of budget beaters, cars cheap enough that you don’t feel bad beating them. It went hand in hand with my college days love for Hoonigan’s YouTube Channelwhere each daily transmission gave me another dose of friends, hanging out, doing stupid stuff in fun cars.

Ken, of course, also has to thank for that. Even now, there’s a part of my brain that desperately wants to beat up some unwanted E36, stitch it up with zip ties, and beat some more. I can thank (or maybe blame) Hoonigan’s shop drummer, a $350 E36 named Sh! tcar used for burnouts, derivative, delivery donuts, destructionand Followingfor those money pit desires.

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Likewise, I knew Pikes Peak in dark outlines, but Ken was the one who correctly introduced me to its endless, winding corners. Watching Climbkhana for the first time was the moment I added Pikes Peak to my bucket list, the moment I decided I needed to see it in my lifetime. Now I haveand I can thank Chief Hoonigan in charge for the views I saw from the top of this mountain.

Gymkhana Five was released just over 10 years ago. It is not hyperbole to say that this irreversibly changed the course of my life. A decade later, I now write for the very publication that introduced me to Ken in the first place. And yet, there’s one piece I never thought I’d write: Ken Block’s eulogy.

I met people from Hoonigan, but I never met Ken himself. I had always, somehow, hoped I could do it – just to thank him for the effect he had on my life. I guess this article will have to suffice. Thanks Ken.

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