Ken Block recently released his latest video, Gymkhana 5 on You Tube. It’s a stunning display of car control and precision driving using the streets of San Francisco, two San Francisco trolleys, Travis Pastrana on a motorcycle, and a barge in San Francisco Bay. Even if you’re not a motor sports enthusiast, this is worth a watch just to enjoy what a driver and a rally car are capable of:
Block also participated in the 2012 X-Games Rally Cross competition along with some other drivers whose backgrounds come from “extreme sports.” Another notable competitor in the X-Games Rally Cross was Sebastien Loeb. Loeb is without a doubt the greatest active rally driver today and arguably one of the greatest rally drivers of all time. To put it mildly, he took the Rally Cross regulars including Block and Pastrana to school at the X-Games. As I watched on ESPN, it was clear to me why he was so much faster and it wasn’t just a matter of skill; it was a matter of style. Many of the other competitors, particularly those that have a background in “extreme sports” had a more flamboyant driving style; they stayed sideways more out of the turns and airborne longer off of the jumps. Loeb on the other hand had his car back in a straight line quicker out of the turns and back on the ground more quickly after the jumps. In short, his style was less showman like. Sliding the car out of the turns and catching long air off of the jumps may be exciting but it results in slower lap times.
As soon as some of the extreme athletes moving into motorsports learn to leave the showmanship in videos like Ken Block’s Gymkhana series some of them will become good racers and make a mark in motor sports. That can only be good for motor sport and I for one welcome them with open arms. It seems at times that motor racing has problems attracting younger generations and this could be just the thing to keep racing’s fan base young and vibrant!