Ken Block and DC Shoes Films released the latest iteration of his hugely popular Gymkhana series today, the creatively titled “Gymkhana Five.” With over 140 million YouTube views across the previous four videos, this latest incarnation is comparatively subdued and stripped down from earlier versions–absent are gimmicks like Hollywood pyrotechnics and smashed fluorescent light bulbs.
Gym 5 places the focus firmly back on Block’s incredible driving skills and lets the City by the Bay play the co-starring role. The result is an epic, gut-wrenching ride along in Block’s 650-horsepower 2012 Ford Fiesta HFHV through the streets of San Francisco that feels like the viewer is playing a real-life version of the video game DIRT3.
Beginning with a wheel-spinning, hole-shot start on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, Gym 5 blitzes and veers its way through many of San Fran’s famous districts and steep inclines, including the Financial District’s Freemont Street (where he encounters some 4-wheeled trolleys) and The Presidio. Highlights include a split-screen uphill traverse of extra-steep Vermont St. (it’s actually a curvier, steeper switchback than the more notorious Lombard St.) and an unbelievably technical, 4-wheel sideways drifting air around a nearly 90 degree right-hand turn @ 5:43.
Always a stickler for slick production, Block’s Gym 5 continues the tradition–multiple cameras (including the hi-speed Phantom Cam and a Heli-cam with what looks to be a gyro-mounted Cineflex cam) at dozens of locations across numerous re-takes makes for a producer’s nightmare, but the end result is a 10-minute wet dream for motorsport fans. The use of strategically placed GoPro’s (GoPro down @ 3:37) provides an intimate look at driver and vehicle in concert (I especially like Suspension Cam and Exhaust Cam).
Cameos from a wheelie-ing Travis Pastrana in full FMX gear and Thrasher Magazine Editor Jake Phelps as a very enthusiastic checked-flag man keep the emphasis on fun, as does a secret ender scene with music by Styx. Seriously, who could ask for more?