Gymkhana is happening worldwide so what’s this motorsport all about?
Gymkhana has some similarities to autocross, but tracks feature obstacles such as cones, tires, and barrels. Memorizing the course is also a major part of achieving a quick time.
Drivers must perform reversals, 180 degree spins, 360 degree spins, parking boxes, figure 8’s, drifting and other advanced skills. Basically the goal is to get through the course as quickly as possible with the fewest number of mistakes. Not only does the driver have to hold control over the car, but gymkhana requires strong mental concentration. Gymkhana courses typically involve only the use of first and second gear, but Autotesting in the UK and Ireland add the use of reverse gear.
Most car enthusiasts in Asia know about Gymkhana and in Japan the sport has a well-defined competition structure, with everything from local to national competitions. Drivers compete in official events locally in order to qualify for regional events which have been running for the past ten years. Japan has an All Japan Gymkhana competition each year which is governed under the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile).
In recent years Gymkhana has become popular in the United States due to one man, Ken Block. His YouTube videos titled Gymkhana have become a viral sensation but they are not a good representation of the world of Gymkhana Racing.
Ken Blocks Influence
Ken Block is a professional rally driver with the Monster World Rally Team. He is also one of the co-founders and recently appointed Chief Brand Officer of DC Shoes. Block has also competed in many action sports events including skateboarding, snowboarding and motocross.
Ken Block’s Gymkhana and Gymkhana 2.0 were YouTube crazes that swept America and Extreme Sports Community. Gymkhana 2.0 was 2009’s fourth most viewed video on YouTube and 3.0 got more than 7 million views in its first week. The videos helped to sell about 15 million dollars in DC Shoes last year.
He held the Ken Block Invitational which was the first stadium-style Gymkhana racing event in the United States where pro drivers and grass roots racers showed thousands of fans what they’d got on a Gymkhana course designed by Block. He also claimed that “Gymkhana just became a motorsport”.
The latest Gymkhana 5.0 which was released a couple of months ago took place in San Francisco! Yes they closed down part of the city and since airing on the video on Youtube it has been seen over 28 million times. “San Francisco was absolutely amazing for Gymkhana,” said Block. “It’s such a unique location for this kind of driving and allowed me to do some things that I never thought I’d ever be able to incorporate into one of my Gymkhana videos-like jumping a table top or doing a jump drift! I’m stoked with how this project turned out and I’m truly a lucky bastard to have been able to do the things I was able to do on the streets of San Francisco. To all of the residents and people who allowed us to make this happen, thank you!”
As I write this blog, Ken Block and his Gravel Farms Racing Company, a Southern California media and marketing company is facing a lawsuit over its creation and operation of a website dedicated to gymkhana and other motorsport news. Block, who reportedly owns the trademark for Gymkhana, is asking for compensatory damages and that the website be transferred into his name.
In conclusion Block needs to respect the sport which has been around since the 80’s. He has not turned Gymkhana into a motorsport but praise must be given for putting the motorsport on the map. Ken Block brings sponsorship, the media and many million of fans that follow him. Hopefully Gymkhana will keep growing and go on delighting fans such as me!
So finally what’s with the name, Gymkhana? It’s an Indian term which basically means a place where skill-based contests are held.