How Ken Block’s Gymkhana Series Changed Car Videos Forever
Step into the world of mid-2000s car culture and you’ll understand exactly why Ken Block’s driving videos blew our minds like they were Subaru head gaskets.
As Ken Block’s fans, followers, and family mourn his tragic passing, many have remarked on how innovative he was as both a racing driver and an entertainer. Without a doubt, his body of work is its own evidence of its epicness. To help us and future readers appreciate exactly what made his stunts and style so special when they first came out, let’s take a look at the debut of Block’s Gymhakana video series in the context of its time.
Block’s life and professional origins have been beautifully articulated by so many major industry names and our own Jonathon Klein. Check out those tributes to learn why Block was such a special person. Here, we’re going to focus on the early days of Gymkhana as car nerds know it, and how the timing of Block’s emergence in the car scene lined up perfectly with the culture and technology of the mid-2000s.
As the inventor of Jalopnik, a major player in the /Drive YouTube and TV efforts, and a big part of the evolution of this site you’re reading, Mike Spinelli is a certified OG of online car culture. His insights on the impact of Ken Block’s first videos are particularly interesting because he’s been both a participant in and observer of car media, professionally, as it evolved from magazines to forums to videos to the rich multimedia melting pot it is in 2023.