ON NOVEMBER 11, 2008, automotive videos were changed forever.
In the decade following, the video has racked up almost 16 million views, set a new bar for automotive entertainment, created a media empire, and spawned a series which has churned out some serious water-cooler content.
Block’s Gymkhana series, and its ongoing success, is akin to an unknown team rocking up to a grand prix weekend, winning on debut, and then continuing to crush the opposition for a decade.
The original Gymkhana harks back to Block’s skateboarding roots, with a lo-fi production feel. While the driving isn’t as outlandish as more recent additions to the series, the genesis of Block’s flamboyant style is clearly present, along with copious amount of tyre smoke.
It would be easy to deride the videos that followed as more of the same, but that ignores the way each effortlessly plugs into contemporary zeitgeist, and endows Gymkhana with repeated viral traction.
Each iteration continues to raise the bar, with wilder stunts, more brazen locations, and all underscored with Block’s relentless destruction of tyres.
While the concept has remained a common theme, each Gymkhana has a new flavour, with unique stunts and locations. A littering of easter eggs throughout each video ensures re-watchability.
During Gymkhana’s procession, the cars Block throws around assorted locations have evolved to become co-stars to the man himself, sprouting fire-breathing turbos and stretched bodywork.
Block and the Hoonigan Media Machine gave viewers an inside look at what goes into making the largest and most extreme car video on the internet in a new Amazon Prime show, the Gymkhana Files.
The shows give the viewer an insight into the consternation felt by both Block and director Brian Scotto when things go awry, like they did so spectacularly while filming in Los Angeles when the internals of Block’s Ford Escort went from singing a sonorous song on the rev limiter to being smoking shards of oily detritus bouncing across a warehouse floor.
Viewers of the series are also given a peek behind the curtain, to see the level of logistics and planning required to create something with the production values to make a Hollywood exec jealous.
Multiple brands and enthusiasts have since glommed onto Block’s original concept, to varying degrees of success. But none have quite captured the magic, and escalating extremes, of the Gymkhana series.
Gymkhana 10 continues what Block started a decade ago, and is the most daring and entertaining episode in the series yet. Enjoy.