Shoe salesman and hoon-in-chief Ken Block’s “Gymkhana Five” arrived today, and the move to take his sideways driving circus out of empty stadiums and warehouses into the streets of San Francisco was a wise one. This ranks as the most exciting pollution of Frisco’s air with tire smoke since Steve McQueen last turned a wheel in anger on “Bullitt.” See for yourself below.
Driving a Ford Fiesta boosted to 650 hp and capable of hitting 60 mph in 1.8 seconds, Block rips through downtown, twirls around a few cable cars and gathers enough air on one hill to wonder just how many cars it took to film this. It’s the summit of the Gymkhana series, which include versions one through four and their 40-some related videos, which have generated 135 million views — and helped Block extend his racing dreams into the World Rally Championship, among others.
There will be haters aplenty who call all of Block’s vehicular moves a calculated marketing effort for his DC Shoes firm and other sponsors, and dismiss the Gymkhanas as silly street stunts. That might have been true at the beginning — and there’s a reason the car’s covered in logos — but Block has sharpened his driving skills throughout the videos, and there’s several moments in this one that would not work in the hands of a less-talented driver.
Also, anytime someone can use Styx in a video without irony, it’s a winner.