For the first time ever, the award-winning Gymkhana viral video series features a new star in the drivers’ seat.
More than a decade after its launch, Ken Block is passing the torch over to long-time US rally and rallycross rival Travis Pastrana. The result? Gymkhana 2020: Travis Pastrana Takeover; Ultimate Hometown Shred.
“From the start of our rally careers, Travis and I have had a friendly, but fierce rivalry behind the wheel,” Block says. “So earlier this year, I called him out for a ‘Block versus Pastrana Stay-at-Home Gymkhana Grid’ video. It was simple, and fun, but that prompted a much bigger, and long-time coming challenge: Could Travis beat me at my own game?
“To even the playing field, I extended to him the same great tools I use to make my Gymkhana films: the award-winning Hoonigan Media Machine – lead by Emmy-nominated director, Brian Scotto. They’re one of the best film producers in the world for car action, but this was going to be Travis’ take on Gymkhana.
“His locations, his tricks, and a chance to show off what he can do behind the wheel! Of course there’s no lack of big jumps in the video. That’s his thing! But did he make a better video than any of my 10? Guess we’ll let the audience decide!”
For the 11th instalment in the series, as well as a driver change, Subaru also returns for the first time since 2009’s DC Shoes: Ken Block Gymkhana Two The Infomercial. The car is more than just your ‘normal’ stage rally machine, too.
Built by Subaru’s main American motorsports partner Vermont SportsCar, it takes everything learned from Subaru Motorsports USA’s rallying and rallycross programs and combines them to create one unthinkably insane monster – all while throwing out all of the rulebooks.
Active aero, 862bhp, and enough bodywork enhancements to make yesterday’s Hollywood stars look normal again, the Gymkhana WRX STI is the wildest Subaru ever built, capable of sliding and jumping further than any that’s come before it.
As well as a new car from an old friend of the series, there’s also an all-new location, with Pastrana taking to his beloved hometown of Annapolis, Maryland. On his trip down memory lane, Pastrana leaps at 150mph past his childhood home, jumps a 120-foot gap at the city docks, and reenacts Block’s famous water’s edge slide from Gymkhana Nine in a fitting nod to his predecessor.
“I’ve been dreaming about ripping through the streets of my hometown of Annapolis for as long as I can remember,” says Pastrana.” So when Ken told me I was going to be making the next Gymkhana, I knew it had to be the location.
“Ken and I have been friendly rivals for years, in everything from rally and rallycross championships to ping-pong. But to take over Gymkhana is a completely different challenge. And one that’s nowhere near as easy as Ken makes it look! It’s an honor to be handed the reins to the Gymkhana series and try my hand at driving in one of these videos working alongside the talented Hoonigan crew. ”
Pastrana is, of course, no stranger to the Gymkhana series, having cameoed in Ken Block’s Gymkhana Five: Ultimate Urban Playground; San Francisco and Ken Block’s Gymkhana Ten: The Ultimate Tire Slaying Tour, the latter teasing his taking over of the 11th video almost a year ago.
His major involvement in this year’s video however gave the series a fresh injection of ideas, according to Hoonigan chief creative officer and Gymkhana director Scotto. It’s likely to lead to an impressive rebuttal from Block some time next year, too.
“After 10 very successful films, creatively we wanted to do something to really shake the series up, and changing out the driver and car did exactly that,” says Scotto. “Plus it set up a potential future viral duel.
“Travis is Ken’s polar opposite. His driving style and penchant for danger brought a very different flavor to the series. And working with Subaru also opened up a new approach. It was an awesome project to work on, now I just want to see how Ken fires back next year!”
From its humble beginnings to the finely-polished pieces we see today, the Gymkhana series has garnered over 550 million views to date, and number 11 is certainly one of the best yet. Check it out below.