2016 marks a historic year for Hoonigan Racing Division and Monster Energy’s Ken Block, as he has just released his second Gymkhana video of the year through Hoonigan’s YouTube channel. Titled Gymkhana NINE: Raw Industrial Playground, the video returns Block’s hugely popular, 400+million view viral video franchise to it’s original roots with an emphasis on raw driving action in a simpler backdrop, as well as demonstrating the performance of his all-new Ford Focus RS RX rallycross car that he competes with in the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.
Filmed over the course of four days in western New York, the video takes place in a series of mostly derelict industrial spaces, harkening back to settings that are visually similar to Block’s first two Gymkhana videos and that ultimately allowed for some of Block’s most raw and aggressive Gymkhana driving in years.
“I really wanted to bring this video back to the core roots of my earlier Gymkhana videos,” said Block. “The full city takeovers are a lot of fun, but we felt that it was time to get back to the basics, especially with the new Ford Focus RS RX. We really wanted to let it shine and be the star in this video since it has so much useable power and control. We also partnered with Microsoft’s Forza Horizons 3 videogame on this video, which allowed us to incorporate some insane tricks that actually pull inspiration from the game itself. It all worked out amazingly and I couldn’t be more stoked on how this video turned out.”
In addition to being presented by Hoonigan, Gymkhana NINE also ushers in a new partnership for Block with the Forza Horizons video game franchise. Two tricks in the video that were inspired by the game itself include a helicopter suspending a brand-new 2017 Ford Raptor from the sky while Block does donuts around it as it spins wildly out of control, as well as a scene where Block drift jumps sideways in front of a moving train. Both of the Forza moments are incredibly high-risk and utilized all of Block’s skill to be pulled off successfully.
“By the way,” said Block. “This is probably common sense, but just so that we’re clear, please, please, please do not attempt to recreate any of the tricks you see me do in his video at home on your own. Especially trying to outrun a train. Attempting to outrun a train isn’t just stupid, it’s also illegal. So please, don’t do it! I do these in a closed course environment with full safety crews, stunt coordinators and a well thought out plan!”
In addition to the aforementioned “Forza moments” from the video, Block also ups the ante in Gymkhana NINE with one of his most outrageous maneuvers to-date: a literal cliffhanger where he exits a warehouse, throws his Ford Focus RS RX into an alley-oop around a telephone cable spool and then proceeds to hang the rear end—and rear wheels—right off of the edge of a shipping pier on Lake Erie.
“The moment where I’m hanging the rear of my car off of that shipping pier was definitely stressful,” continued Block. “But, it’s something that we really wanted to do in real life since previously people have only seen something like that in a CGI-d BMW commercial [Block is referencing a BMW advertisement where a car is drifting around on top of an aircraft carrier deck, something that many casual observers thought to be real when in fact it was all CGI]. That’s the great thing about these videos, everything I do with the car, everything we capture on camera is all real, live action. We may do a few takes to get all of the angles covered or get timing more dialed, but at the end of the day it’s all actual driving, no CGI.”