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Gymkhana Nine Already? Gymkhana Nine Already

Alan Cesar September 13, 2016 All Things Hoon, Featured 48 Comments


Your favorite burnouts-and-donuts wheelman-turned-shoe-salesman-turned-energy-drink-salesman is now also selling video games. But nevermind that, there are burnouts and donuts and other stuntin-and-splodin to watch. It’s been less than a year since Gymkhana Eight, where Ken Block took a different Focus around scenes at the oil-rich city of Dubai. This series has clearly become a big moneymaker for Block since his first one almost eight years ago. He has since switched from Subaru to Ford, and the automaker has poured support behind these videos.

Bit by bit, these have become more ridiculous and ambitious, progressing to closing off city streets to emit tire smoke around some of their cultural icons—while also conveniently showing plenty of sponsor logos and incorporating other Ford products. I’ve always wondered, since they seem to up the ante every time, where they would go next. This time, Block took a step toward simplicity.

Gymkhana Nine tries to bring back the flavor of the original Gymkhana Practice video that blew our minds back in 2008. It’s all warehouse scenes shot in western New York state, but we wouldn’t fault you for thinking it’s Detroit. There are plenty of small-radius donuts and orchestrated close calls.

It’s fun to watch, as all of these are, but it’s hard to get the magic back of that original. No one had seen anything like it before. It was fresh, new, and showed a level of driver skill and car capability we’d only perhaps imagined happening in video games. The Mustang through Los Angeles was the most recent video that had a significant number of hold-your-breath moments. This one is not that.

But it’s still a great way to kill 8 minutes.

Watch the video below.

  • Ross Ballot

    I liked it more than the recent way-overproduced videos, but as you said, it’ll never match the magic and “wow factor” of the original.

  • Batshitbox

    The stunt most likely to be imitated, and most likely to lead to certain death, is crossing the path of a moving train. I would not have included that one. They never ask internet commentators before they make these things, do they?

    • JayP

      Last night we saw a guy drive around the arms to cross the track. Train may have been 25-30 yards away. Funny thing is the train was 1 engine and 3 cars. Risked his life for a minute of inconvenience.

    • wunno sev

      i think people are likely to do that ’cause they’re very bad at estimating risk, not because they saw Ken Block do it.

  • NapoleonSolo

    Hi there, editors. I wonder if you have any concept of how amazingly irresponsible it is for you to pick this still from a video and give it widespread distribution? It doesn’t matter that it has been out there for years and been watched a zillion times. Railroads all over the world are constantly running public service ads and waging educational safety campaigns to try to teach people not to do precisely what you are here promoting. And your reason for doing this is what? Free speech? Freedom of the press? Freedom of the internet where no one ever shoulders responsibility for anything they say or do?

    How many of your loved ones have ever been killed in a railroad crossing accident? Have you ever given any thought to what happens to the engineer and crew of that locomotive? I have always thought that if it was me in that cab, I would know that it wasn’t my fault those people were dead and get over it. Unfortunately, the truth is that railroad employees often don’t get over it, take it very hard and even lose their livelihood because they can’t get back into the cab.

    I know you guys didn’t publish this with any malice behind you decision to highlight this, but maybe some some due consideration before deciding would have been a good thing.

    • Jeff Glucker

      I play video games that have characters shooting people in the face. I drive 200mph in Forza. I watch the James Bond films and don’t flip Aston Martins.

      I don’t emulate the stuff I see on tv, the Internet, and in video games. If people do that, they were already going to do something very stupid, and it wasn’t us or the other content creators that forced their stupid stupid hands.

      • Jeff Glucker

        Also… “widespread” distribution.

      • NapoleonSolo

        Engage your brain and try again, Jeff.

        • Jeff Glucker

          My brain is fully engaged. Are you telling me that you see that image and want to drive a car in front of a train? Perhaps you should engage your own brain then.

          You don’t need to resort to a shitty comment like that to debate the merits of posting an image. I didn’t say what you wrote was dumb, I just replied to it with my opinion. Though your opinion was already in the negative with regards to the posting of that photo, which is clear from your original comment.

          And my opinion is that what you’re looking at is a photo of a bad-ass stunt with tons of planning and logistics involved. I think the majority of the population who views that image would see the same thing.

          Do you get upset when we post a photo or video showing someone doing a burnout, a drift, racing, crashing, etc? Folks have died doing that as well. Not posting a photo because people have died doing something is silly. I get your side of the argument, but I also don’t think you’re even listening to the other side.

          This is a photo, in a controlled environment, showing an awesome car doing awesome things… and it was all well coordinated.

          This photo on this website will not lead to a massive uptick in folks jumping in front of trains in their cars trying to beat them to the crossing. I never said it wasn’t hard on those who work in that industry, and I’m sure it’s an absolutely brutal thing to even consider dealing with.

          “Railroads all over the world are constantly running public service ads and waging educational safety campaigns to try to teach people not to do precisely what you are here promoting”
          And it’s a shame they even need to… it seems that “Don’t jump in front of the massive thing that can’t slow down well” doesn’t need to be taught. By us posting this picture, however, we’re not promoting the notion that people should go out and do this. We’re showing you a professional in a closed environment with a coordinated team and plan.

          This is a stunt.
          A rehearsed one.
          Anyone with a standard count of brain cells will see this and know that their Focus (even it’s the RS or ST) should never ever try this.

          Also, for something like Gymkhana it’s easier to disengage your brain and simply enjoy the driving action unfolding on the screen.

          • NapoleonSolo

            According to statistics, about every 3 hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train. I work with an organization called Operation Lifesaver that is dedicated to rail safety education. Every time someone publicizes a video of a person violating vehicle operation laws and the laws of common sense, it sets us back just that much. Mostly because people like Jeff Glucker here thinks they are cool without thinking beyond that. If you think this is a movie stunt or that the Buffalo Southern Railroad participated in the making of this video, you’re wrong because the Federal Railway Administration would be all over them. If you think the Ford Motor Company PR department paid money for this and their lawyers signed off on it. If you want to see some real videos of locomotives interacting with automobiles, I can supply some. I was on a train that took out someone playing chicken with a “slow moving” train. Or I can put you in touch with my sister who lost a child this way because she was in a car driven by someone like your hero in this video.

            Finally, Jeff, I always love it when someone responds to one of my comments when they could have kept their mouth shut and then cries and moans about having a right to his “opinion” if I come back at him. It’s like picking a fight with a kid on the playground and then crying to the teacher when you get a bloody nose.

            • BigRedCaveTroll

              Aw, shucks, now I have the mental image of fighting on a playground. Welp, guess I gotta go punch someone in the face. Be right back.

              • NapoleonSolo

                Go for it, Troll. But don’t pick a big kid who might hit you back. 😉

                • BigRedCaveTroll

                  It’s the little guys you gotta watch out for. 😉

          • NapoleonSolo

            So, Jeff, I just noticed the use of “we” in the post above. Does that mean you are one of the editors? If so, why don’t you identify yourself as such? I’ll treat you with kid gloves next time in order to avoid being blocked from the site (which I generally enjoy very much).

            • Jeff Glucker

              No one is getting blocked. Part of what makes Hooniverse great is discussion.

              I just prefer it a bit more civilized, which is difficult on the Internet.

              I assumed you had to have a reason why this issue cut deeply to the core. I’m sorry for your familial loss. I still wouldn’t change the posting of the image.

              I do think beyond the simplicity of the image posted. I do think about everytime *I* post a video that shows me doing a burnout, or pushing a car hard on a track (well, hard for me).

              I never attacked you, I just provided a dissenting view to your own opinion. Nor did I cry foul here, but I do think you’re aggressive in your commenting regarding this matter (which I can see why that would be but I don’t think it’s necessary). My nose isn’t virtually bloodied by this chat, and the only “teacher” her to cry to is myself (and the other co-founder).

              I don’t need to state that I’m an editor here because everyone should talk to each other in the same manner. Also, I just figured that we have a tight knit enough readership that they know who I am since I’ve been here from Day 1.

              “If you think the Ford Motor Company PR department paid money for this and their lawyers signed off on it, you’re nuts.” Yes, they definitely did. They’re a title sponsor for Block. They also sell a car with something called Drift Mode, which I personally think is crazy.

              I see no “win” to this conversation. You’re deeply invested in the cause of railway safety, which is certainly a good cause and you have strong reasons. I still view the above image as a hell of a stunt that makes people want to click play on the corresponding video, and not one that makes people want to put their own life (and the lives of others) in danger.

              • NapoleonSolo

                I apologize if I came on too strong, but it’s massively frustrating that shenanigans at railroad crossings are taken so lightly. As you know, we’ve had such crossings since the 1800’s and today’s crossings are highly mechanized and practically put on laser shows, but people still ignore not only their own safety but that of their passengers and anyone else involved. I don’t know if YouTube would publish a video of two people massively enjoying a game of Russian Roulette, but some of these stunt videos are not that far off. This one definitely has high production values, but it’s still just a YouTube stunt. The other thing that has nothing to do with your video but does tend to “trigger” me is the fact that suicide by locomotive engineer seems to be the method of choice for people who feel they’ve reached the end. I live near the Northeast Corridor outside of Philadelphia where there are many commuter and freight lines, as well, and it seems that one of these fatalities gets reported at least once per week. So, showing how fun it is to play on railroad tracks is not my favorite thing.

          • No need to take the photo down. People need to grow a pai . Want to jump in front of a train, your stupid. Want to jump in front of one cause you saw it online, you deserve to die, stupid!!!

            • Batshitbox

              You missed the part about the trauma suffered by the train crews who have to live through these events, didn’t you? Grow a pair of eyes, and go back and read everything until your comprehension improves. Come back when you know how to spell.

              • Not worth a response

                • Batshitbox

                  Thank you for responding.

                  • dead_elvis, inc.

                    Looks like we have a resident troll.
                    And a new (at least to me) “block user” function in Disqus.

                    • Batshitbox

                      I’m guessing when Jeff started his reply with “no one is getting blocked” Kyle Allen took it as a challenge.
                      (Insert played out old ‘Challenge Accepted’ meme image here)

                    • dead_elvis, inc.

                      His comment history indicates this is SOP.

              • Your a fucking idiot. Why don’t you jump in front of a train.

                • Batshitbox

                  I’m aware you get a perverse pleasure from people responding to your juvenile taunts. Thanks for that, because I get a kick out of telling you what a pathetic, impotent boob you are. I feed the trolls, it’s true. However, even though you’re the only one still reading this thread, and baiting the commentators even when they’re not talking at you (because you have nothing, literally nothing better to do), I have too much respect for Hooniverse to continue to have a pissing contest with you on these pages.
                  You need psychiatric help. Well adjusted, mentally balanced human beings don’t tell each other to jump in front of trains, ask anyone.
                  Good bye, and good luck.

                  • Glad you wasted your time with all your bullshit nonsense that I never bothered to read, why waste my time on an idiot like yourself

      • Batshitbox

        While I think NapoleonSolo‘s wording is needlessly abrasive, I’m with him in thinking you should have used a different lede photo.

        Anyone with a car and a grade crossing can try to beat the train, and they will, and some of them because they saw it in a Ken Block video, don’t doubt it. Most of the skateboarders I know learned by emulating Tony Hawk videos, it’s a consequence of hero worship. Maybe more will become rally car drivers, but some will become hamburger. That won’t be your fault, but you’re associating your blog with it by running that photo.

        Yes it’s unlikely that anyone seeing the lede photo on Hooniverse will try to copycat the train stunt, you know your audience. Even so, why even put it up there? It’s too hot-button, or as the Millennials say, triggering. If badass stunts in controlled environments are your criteria, helicopter dangling a Ford Raptor (?) over Ken Block is way up there above car at train crossing, especially as a still.

        • NapoleonSolo

          Thank you for expressing your thoughts on this. Sorry I was abrasive…

          • JayP
            • NapoleonSolo

              Why don’t you see if you can find someone to read the comments to you and explain as they go along. Maybe your mom?

              • JayP

                I read the comments.
                This place is pretty cool… most everyone gets the jabs. Someone of your intelligence who is able to spell Napoleon might just get that.

                Again, lighten up, Dildo.

                • NapoleonSolo

                  We can judge your intelligence by your vocabulary, too. Or at least we know what you’re looking forward to. Say hello to your mom for me.

                  • Wow a mom joke. Grow the fuck up loser!!!

            • dukeisduke

              Warren Oates, one of my favorite actors. RIP.

          • Batshitbox

            Eh, we all have our days. For the record, my very first thought on seeing the lede photo was, “Oh. crap, they’re not actually going to do that, are they?” And they did, earning many Marge Simpson noises form yours truly.

            I’m surprised & disappointed that Buffalo Southern even consented to help with that stunt. Maybe they told them it would be in a Bond film.

            • NapoleonSolo

              Just because they thanked them in the film credits doesn’t mean BSR actually cooperated. Every railroad I know of, no matter how small, is big into railroad safety and wouldn’t want to have someone pull up a video showing they didn’t take it seriously if there was a lawsuit against them. They MIGHT have said it was for a Fast and Furious film, especially if they did it on a Saturday morning when all of the management were home in bed.

        • Jeff Glucker

          I actually thought the Raptor part was kind of lame though… my least favorite part of the video.

          • Batshitbox

            Sure, but as eye candy it’s arresting. I kept wanting the raptor to drop and start chasing Ken around. They gotta work their product placements in somewhere, I guess. I still haven’t nailed down what kind of helicopter it is. Very close to a Norwegian built Sea King, though.

      • crank_case

        Yeah, I mean back in the 80s we played pac-man, if people were influenced by video games, teens would have spent their time in darkened rooms, listening to repetitive music and swallowing pills* …oh wait, sorry, not helping.

        *shamelessly nicked from some standup.

    • BigRedCaveTroll

      Clearly it’s just a blurry photo of a person in a zebra-striped Focus RS stopped at some train tracks. I see no harm.

  • Jeff Glucker

    I really enjoyed that this was a return to the more old-school Gym form here. I still loved the LA and San Fran productions, but this one was great in its simplicity while still having a few pucker moments (The train and the wheel off the dock)

  • I was hoping the train would finally put an end to this stupid shit

  • ninjabortion

    I dig the wheels as usual, but not like $1400 a pop dig em… http://fifteen52.com/collections/forged-wheels/products/forged-monoblock-turbomac

  • StephaneDumas

    I read NapoleonSolo’s comments and I couldn’t resist to post these vintage educationnal movies about safety on railroad crossings.

  • dukeisduke

    I read this morning that the original plan was to film this in Sydney, in the central business district, and on the Sydney Harbor Bridge. But the Australian government, who’s been known to seize and crush cars involved in hooning (and who seems to have forgotten what the word “fun” means), said not only no, but HELL NO, to Block. Their answer was to confine the action to an island in the harbor, away from the eyes and ears of Aussies who might be urged to hoon. Block said no thanks.