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Top Gear’s complete guide to Gymkhana

  1. It was way back in 2008 that the Internet first got wind of a driver named Ken Block and his rather natty skills at being an absolute and utter motoring hooligan. Give this man an airfield, and he’d leave you with the smoking carcasses of many, many tyres.

    Because it was in 2008 that the bedrooms and offices of the world watched this Californian madman in ‘Gymkhana Practice’, the first in a series of videos that would establish Block and his rally-spec motors as icons of tyre-shredding excess.

    He’s back with a new one, which - as he explained to - aims to rekindle the simple, grass-roots, gritty driftyness of the first. It’s called Gymkhana 7, ‘wild in the streets’, and it’s a fine demonstration of just why Mr Block has wormed his way into TG’s heart. The levels of sheer hoonery he manages to achieve in his 845bhp, modified all-wheel-drive 1965 ‘notchback’ Mustang beggars belief.

    It’s a fine addition to a fine body of work. And here is’s complete guide to that body of work. Have a click through and let us know your favourite…

  2. Gymkhana Practice

    2008, and the one that started it all. Block takes his ‘06 Subaru Impreza WRX STI (yeah, remember those?) with its 530bhp to an airfield, guns it down the straight and then, without warning, flicks it into a massive drift. And it was that first drift that changed everything. And it seems so innocent when you look back, as many of you still are: it’s clocked over 14 million views.

    Watch it here

  3. Gymkhana Two "The Infomercial"

    Shamelessly paraded as an advert showcasing DC Sports merchandise (that’s Block’s clothing line) and filmed at the Port of Los Angeles, Gymkhana Two debuted a year after the first one, and was altogether a more polished affair. It also ushered in a new iteration of the Scooby: this was a 2009 WRX STI packing 566bhp and 611lb ft of torque, prepared by the same chaps who did the first one (Crawford Performance). It ends in an explosion, with lots of fire and lots of drifting. A lot like Top Gear, then.

    Over 42 million views and counting.

    There’s a mini-Gymkhana vid that aired a few months later too - Gymkhana 2.1 - featuring Block and longtime friend Rob Dyrdek; Block’s in the Scooby, Dyrdek’s in a mini-Scooby. There is Benny Hill music and 80s synth, along with a touch of tyre smoke. Just a smidgen, mind.

    Watch the first one here, and the second one here

  4. Gymkhana Three

    By this point, Ken Block has become a household name (especially considering he appeared on a little motoring programme in 2009 called The Top Gear and scared someone named James May quite a bit).

    We’re in 2010, and Block has swapped his Scooby for something a little smaller, but equally averse to prolonging tyre life: a ‘11 Ford Fiesta prepared by Olsbergs MSE. Don’t let the size fool you mind; it’s still packing 650bhp and 660lb ft of torque at the wheels, and is capable of accelerating from 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds. Eat that, Veyron.

    He heads outside the US for the first time in a Gymkhana film, at the 51 degree banked oval of Linas at l’Autodrom de Linas-Montlhery, specifically chosen by Ken to challenge himself on the rather steep sides. Welcome to Ken’s ‘Ultimate Playground’. Naturally, a man in a segway appears, and at the end, there is literally NO RUBBER LEFT. It’s just sparks.

    Watch it here

  5. Gymkhana Four

    We’re back in California for this one, and for the yearly installment of his tyre-torture-porn, Block steps it up to another level of cool. Shot on the backlots of Universal Studios, the director of Zombieland produces a proper Hollywood stunt film.

    There are JawsBack to the Future, Stars Wars and Top Gun references, all playing second fiddle to Block’s new Hybrid Function Hoon Vehicle (HFHV). Film and car nerds, this one’s for you.

    Oh, and a man dressed in an ape suit riding a segway makes the obligatory appearance.

    Watch it here

  6. Gymkhana Five

    San Francisco has been the backdrop to many a good movie, most notably the superb, superb chase sequence in Bullitt. Block decides he wanted to “have his way with San Francisco”, and boy, does he have a good ol’ day.

    Shot on the actual streets of the San Fran, the fifth installment of Block’s Gymkhana series landed in 2012, and remains his most accomplished, spectacular and personal favourite to date. In his 650bhp Fiesta, he smokes his way around Northern California in a way only he knows how.

    This one’s epic, and you lot are quite taken with it too: over 54 million views. Fifty four million.

    Watch it here

  7. Gymkhana Six

    Any car that has a ‘kill all tires’ sticker deserves to be laughed at, right? Well, laugh, and you’ll get a mouthful of the black stuff, because Block means business. So much so, he needed a different tack after the Hollywood-special Gymkhana Four, and the spectacularly epic San-Francisco-based Gymkhana Five.

    He went back-to-basics for this year’s video, setting out a little technical circuit - with the obligatory moving cars and segways - to showcase his impressive drifting ability. It’s a throwback to the very first Gymkhana that got the world to sit up and pay attention; where it’s just him, a 650bhp Fiesta ST and a few obstacles. Oh, and a big fat wrecking ball.

    Watch it here

  8. Gymkhana Seven

    Out goes Block’s trusty little Fiesta, and in comes something altogether more unholy. A modified, 845bhp classic Ford Mustang with all-wheel-drive and a madman at the wheel, thrashing away at downtown Los Angeles’ gritty cityscape.

    It’s an incredible video, as expected, with some clever touches; donating around Randy’s Donuts, snaking his way up into the Hollywood hills and behind the sign - the first car to have ever been filmed doing so - and a donut around a lowrider’s bouncy lowrider.

    Watch the video here. Ken still cites his personal favourite as Gymkhana Five - which one is yours?

  9. James May meets Ken Block

    Ok, so it’s not strictly a proper Gymkhana video, but it’s bloody ace, is what it is. It also made James May’s eyes water and his stomach scream obscenities, but that’s all in a day’s work for any passenger to Ken Block.

    Wanting to know what all the fuss was about, we packed James off to California to meet the man himself, only to discover just how riotously, unashamedly oblivious he is on the proper decorum for escorting a noted television dignitary around a new city. Tsk.

    Watch it here

    Which one’s your favourite?

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