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Ken Block brings Gymkhana racing to U.S. with Irwindale debut

December 1, 2010 | 12:15 pm


An exciting new style of racing is hitting the U.S. for the first time later this week, when rally-car driver and DC Shoes co-founder Ken Block brings Gymkhana Grid to the Southland with the Ken Block Gymkhana Invitational, Friday and Saturday at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.

Derived from a Hindi term, Gymkhana is used to describe a sport that tests the ability of competitors to negotiate a pre-designed route boasting a complex design. As a motorsport, it's essentially a cross between drifting and rally-car racing.  Gymkhana courses feature obstacles such as cones, tires, barrels and K-rails, where drivers compete in a head-to-head battle with the goal of negotiating the course as fast as possible with the least amount of course infractions.

The inspiration for creating the competitive race series was born after Gymkhana videos became an Internet sensation, garnering about 90 million viewers to date and making Advertising Age magazine's list of Top 10 all-time viral videos. The above video, "Gymkhana Three, Part 2; Ultimate Playground; l'Autodrome, France," is the latest and has been viewed by more than 18 million people since its Sept. 14 release. The video takes one's breath away, as Block literally drives the tires off his Ford Fiesta.

"Ever since we filmed the first Gymkhana clip, I've been itching to not only get my professional racing friends to be able to come and play with me in this incredibly fun, sideways and technical motorsport, but also to make it possible for amateur drivers to participate, too," Block said. "And Gymkhana Grid does exactly that."

Toyota Speedway gates open at 10 a.m. both days, with practice and qualifying rounds on Friday and practice and head-to-head elimination rounds Saturday (a complete event time schedule is available here).

A two-day ticket is $30 and a Saturday-only ticket is $25. Both can be purchased online (which includes an "early-buyer" discount) or at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.

-- Kelly Burgess

Video: Ken Block's "Gymkhana Three, Part 2; Ultimate Playground; l'Autodrome, France." Credit: YouTube