Yeah, I know. I'm a big Subaru fanboy. And I used to be one of those "Ken shouldn't have left Subaru for Ford" people, but I eventually figured out why it was best that he made the switch. Leaving Subaru was probably the smartest (and hardest) decision Kenny from the Block has made. From achieving his dreams in competing in the World Rally Championship to building an incredibly successful franchise for himself, there's no plausible way I could say that leaving Subaru was a mistake. If you're still whining about Ken's departure from Subaru like I was, you're missing the big picture. Ken did what it took to be successful and achieve his dreams. It just turned out that he couldn't do that with Subaru.
That being said, we can't celebrate 10 years of Gymkhana by just looking back at the last 8 years with Ford. Therefore, my inner Subaru fanboy is turning the dial back two years before Block and Ford hooked up. It wasn't even called "Gymkhana One". Ken's first foray into becoming a YouTube sensation was in a 2-year-old Subaru in a run-down airfield. Still, this is where Ken took Gymkhana from just cone-dodging and box drills to an elaborate cinematic choreographed spectacle of smoking tires and sideways driving. Clipping past entire buildings, driving circles around a man driving a Segway, spinning figure-8s through a hangar... Gymkhana was redefined with this single video.
In the wake of that initial success, Ken took it another step further. This time he did it with a shiny new 2008 Subaru WRX STI tuned by Crawford Performance, his friend Rob Dyrdek, and DC Shoes right in the spotlight. Then take the same insane driving that got him famous with Gymkhana Practice, give that film team a pay raise, drizzle in shameless product placement, and you've got a recipe for a smashing sequel. "Gymkhana Two: The Infomercial" checked all the boxes with flashier filming, explosions, tire-slaying driving, and Dyrdek got to shoot Ken with a paintball gun. What's not to like?
While Gymkhana Practice was responsible for getting things started, the tone that Gymkhana Two set propelled the rest of the series forward. These two films created the spark that would ignite the internet and fuel Ken's continued pursuit of creating some of the most jaw-dropping viral videos to date. As the stunts, cars, and locations get more and more extreme with each production, we owe some thanks to Ken and his Subaru for starting things off right.
Oh, and in case you're still wanting more, Ken Block managed to shoot three more fun films before parting ways with Subaru. Here's links to his "showdown" with Rob Dyrdek, his Trax-equipped Snow cat STI, and his Top Gear feature with James May.