Ken Block is one of the worlds best drivers with an amazing rally career, his side projects like turning Gymkhana videos into an art form has seen his brand sky rocket over the last decade.
Those Gymkhana videos took teams of people to pull off that amazing cinematography and The Gymkhana Files is a new Amazon Prime Video series that takes you behind the scenes.
I happen to be an Amazon Prime member, which for $60 per year, gets me free express delivery on a bunch of products, but also includes access to Amazon Prime Video, so this weekend I checked out the first 2 episodes.
Available in gorgeous 4K HDR, the shots behind the scenes look amazing as the final product. In the first couple of episodes we get a look at the production challenges of shooting Gymkhana.
When you take a methanol-fuelled car to the top of pikes peak, there’s not as much oxygen, so the car performs differently. We hear Block break down the challenge of adapting to this change in vehicle behaviour, a serious issue when you’re trying to be millimetre perfect.
One of the questions many of us had about the Gymkhana videos is how many takes they need to get a stunt right. Turns out the answer is.. 99% of the time the first take is good enough to use.
On this particular occasion, the famous shot of Block drifting around the Ws up Pikes Peak took exactly 2 attempts. The first he explains was too conservative. The second, he basically messed up, he got the angle wrong and slid further than intended, leaving the rear wheels in the dirt and just the front wheels (all wheel drive saved him here) keeping traction with the tarmac. That 1400 Hoonicorn managed to pull him back on to the road and the plethora of cameras from GoPros to Helicopter were there to capture it.
The celebration and congratulations from the crew after he managed to survive was pretty special and gives you insight into the pressures block is under to nail the drift for that perfect shot, how close to the line it is and as skill-full as he is as a driver, sometimes things happen accidentally.
Back in 2012, this same corner caught Jeremy Foley off guard and his Mitsubishi Evo went tumbling over the edge. Fortunately he survived, but Block came very, very close to the same fate.
It’s stories like this that take you behind the scenes of the Gymkhana videos that are really enjoyable to hear and see. I also enjoyed other aspects, like learning what they doe when they get rained out, or some of the stunts that never made it to the final cut. Also that sometimes even the best drivers get it wrong and Block destroys 2 rims on a gutter.
If you like video production or the driving itself, then make sure you check out The Gymkhana Files on Amazon Prime Video.
The Grand Tour and now The Gymkhana Files, shows someone at Amazon is a fan of Motorsport and personally I hope we see much more of it.