I know there are 20 hours of YouTube videos added to the company’s servers every minute, but here’s one you have to watch right now. It has no socially redeeming value, but think of it as a tribute to humanity’s ability to triumph over adversity for Maxim and Stuff readers, or something like that:
There’s a second one, “Gymkhana TWO,” which drew even more viewers:
The driver in those videos is Ken Block, and with Travis Pastrana he is one of two speed racers I interviewed this week. Both of them, even though they have distinguished rally careers, could be called extreme sports drivers -- they do things with cars nobody else would. Block jumped a Subaru in off a New Zealand snowboard jump (overshooting it a bit, which had to hurt), and Pastrana broke Block’s record for longest rally car jump with a 250-foot leap off a pier in Long Beach on New Year’s Eve. Take a look at that one:
Pastrana’s jump was part of “Red Bull. New Year. No Limits on ESPN,” and he told me his goal was simply to do something more spectacular than had been done the previous year. “We wanted to push the envelope,” Pastrana (pictured right) said. We looked at jumping into a stadium or over a freeway.” You’ll be glad to know he completed the jump and landed unscathed. You are glad, right?
Block’s big news is that he’s moving up to the big time with the World Rally Championship (WRC), driving for Ford. He’s a three-time X Games medallist, which makes him an extreme sports poster child. “I’ve been a fan of rally racing since I was a kid,” he told me. “I was never a huge fan of drag racing or the ovals. It was rallying, which I saw on TV from Europe, that really inspired me.”
Block (pictured left) and Pastrana were partners driving for Subaru Rally Team USA. Together, they’re definitely adding some sex appeal to rallying—not usually boffo box office in the U.S.
When it comes to extreme car stuff, there’s a history:
In 1974, Evel Knievel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in Idaho astride a rocket-propelled motorcycle. He failed to make the jump when a parachute deployed prematurely, but the televised attempt made him a household name. If you don’t know about him, your parents do.
Pastrana, a motorcross/international rally champion and multiple X Games winner, has a big jumpsuit to fill. He said that the late Evel Knievel was “a pioneer in action sports.”
Block and Pastrana should be in the movies, creating Fast and Furious films we’d actually want to watch. Can you imagine the “Gymkhana” videos in 3D?