If you spend a lot of time on Youtube, you may have stumbled across a couple of awesome videos of people drifting Ford Fiestas on a dirt road or an enclosed driving route. That’s because they’re doing something called ‘Gymkhana’, a motorsport involving obstacles for drivers to maneuver in the fastest time possible. When you see what Gymkhana drivers can do, it’ll make Tokyo Drift look like Driving Miss Daisy.
Additionally, Gymkhana also has a special connection with Ford through one of the sports most prolific drivers, Ken Block! Read on to learn more about the origins of Gymkhana and the man who brought it to the mainstream with a little help from Team Ford!
The Origins of Gymkhana
The motorsport iteration of Gymkhana—Hindi for “a place for skill-based contests”—is directly inspired by the equestrian discipline of the same name. In the equestrian version of Gymkhana, horse riders participate in speed pattern racing and timed games such as barrel racing, pole bending, flag racing, and more to display precision and control of between the horse and the ride—and it’s no different with the automotive version of Gymkhana.
Drivers need to display the same kind of precision when racing in obstacle courses. These courses often require controlled acceleration, braking, and drifting as a lot of the corners in these racetracks are very tight while the obstacles at times can be very dangerous. Think of it as driving through the real-life version of Bowser’s castle in Mario Kart, except without all the Thwomps crushing you from above.
One of the patriarchs for Gymkhana-style driving, Kent Block is a professional rally driver, stunt driver, and co-founder of DC Shoes. Kent’s performance driving came to prominence in mainstream culture after appearing on a segment in the popular BBC show, Top Gear, as well as the YouTube video for “Gymkhana 2” becoming the most viral video of 2009. In his popular Gymkhana videos, each with an average of over 43 million views, Kent drifts and swerves through different race tracks with various obstacles such as moving Lamborghinis, segway drivers, and even drifts right past a moving train and giant flail! Check out some of the videos below to see Kent Block in action!
Ford’s Partnership with Ken Block
Since 2010, Ken Block has become a global brand ambassador for Ford while competing in various motorsport and Gymkhana events, while also producing digital content through his Rally group and clothing company, “Hoonigans Racing”. Throughout most of his racing events since then, he’s driven a custom-made Hoonigan Focus RS RX Supercar that can’t be sold under a pre-existing agreement with the partnership that’s only used for display or demos.
That was just a quick guide to everything you need to know about Gymkhana. We hope you’ll swerve on over to Team Ford to check out why Hoonigan Racing uses the Ford Focus RS as the go-to race car for all their Gymkhana and rally racing events!