Behind The Scenes Of Gymkhana Nine
Raw Industrial Playground

Given it amassed 10 million views in the space of a week, I’m sure you guys have watched Ken Block’s latest Gymkhana series video by now, and that means it’s time for me to take you behind the scenes.

This is Gymkhana Nine: Raw Industrial Playground.

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The tricks that Ken pulled off this time around really brings the franchise back to its roots. Instead of focusing on location and road closures, the Hoonigan team focused on what made Gymkhana such a success in first place: awesome driving.

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It’s hard to imagine what sort of things could top all of the crazy stunts and tricks Ken has done in the past, but with Gymkhana Nine, I think the element of danger made a welcome return.

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From the insane train race to basically hanging the rear of his Ford Focus RS RX off the edge of a dock, this video really brought precision driving back to the series.

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Although the shooting location was Buffalo, New York, the Head Hoonigan in Charge was actually supposed to tear up Sydney, Australia, for this ninth video. Could you imagine seeing perfect four-wheel drifts around the Sydney Opera House? It surely would have been epic, but red tape got in the way.

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Brian Scotto stepped up from Creative Director on the previous Gymkhana videos to Director on Gymkhana Nine, which also happens to be the first Gymkhana video handled entirely in-house by Scotto and Block’s all-new Hoonigan Media Machine production company.

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It was pretty cool, but also how it should be; lots of surprises and more focus on perfectly nailing the driving sequences.

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Pretty much all the key players were back, many of which I call my friends.

Ken’s Hoonigan Racing team was there with lead mechanic Skippy (top right), who also built one of the coolest Pontiac Trans-Ams I’ve ever seen.

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The shoot itself took four days, and throughout the course of this post I’ll be running you through each and every one of them.

The Warehouse

This warehouse space was pretty much home base for the team to change tires and adjust settings on the car in between scenes.

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The crew got into it right away with some smoky four-wheel drifts and close proximity moments.

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As I’ve not had a chance to make my way over to Europe for an FIA World Rallycross round, this was the first time I’d shot Ken’s Ford Focus RS RX. It was also the first time he’d hooned this thing outside of World RX competition and testing.

Anything to get the shot, right?

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A 600hp rallycross car driving inside is not something you see everyday, and the mix of abandoned factories and warehouses provided some interesting shooting locations for sure.

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The first day is always the toughest as everyone gets into the groove of shooting and moving locations quickly, but it’s almost second nature for Ken and the crew now.

Before we packed up to call it a day, this Sikorsky helicopter landed on set. Its normal duties include installing spires and large air conditioning units on skyscrapers, but of course on Gymkhana it had an entirely different job altogether.

Buffalo Central Terminal
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The next morning we were shooting at two locations. We started at the Buffalo Central Terminal and then moved our way back to the first day’s location to film the helicopter scene.

Built in 1929 in art deco style, the Central Terminal is a really amazing place.

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It’s hard to believe now, but at one point in time there were 200 trains going through this station.

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Now it’s the perfect spot for a Gymkhana course. Who would have thought?

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As always, the race team worked very hard throughout the day to ensure the car was running perfectly.

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Just another day in the office for Kenny from the Block.

While it was a little bit sad to see what would once have been such a majestic place now in such a dilapidated state, there’s actually an organisation planning on restoring the terminal, but of course not for train use.

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Already it’s quite the draw for Hollywood productions and even concerts.

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For sale, brand new Ford F-150 Raptor, slightly lifted.

The pilot was so precise with his movements, but he whipped the Raptor around like a rag doll once at altitude. The best part? After the F-150 was unhooked, the crew just drove it away like nothing had happened.

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The next stunt required a couple of scuba tanks in the car and US Coast Guard divers to be on standby, just in case Ken and his Focus went for a dip in Lake Erie.

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Ken got close to the edge twice, but the first time he just did not have enough speed to complete the rotation out of the donut box area. The second time is what you see in the video. I feel like any more rubber over the edge and things could have easily ended in disaster.

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Mission accomplished; time for a nice swim in a race suit.

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East Coast sunsets don’t get much better than this. While it would have been cool to shoot down under, Gymkhana Nine was really coming together nicely at this point.

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It was absolutely beautiful inside Central Terminal, and the light quality was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

A quick trip up a few floors revealed more of the building’s story. It was an urban explorer’s dream – that newspaper is from 1978.

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It was blast shooting in the terminal, and the third day was largely spent capturing the opening sequence shots.

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The start of the video shows the RS RX on a rotating platform. I like that it’s an added element to the film that makes it that much cooler.

Here’s a shot of the turntable in action and another of the crew building it out the day before filming this scene.

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Sometimes it takes quite a while to rig up cameras, so naps in between scenes are encouraged.

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It sounded absolutely amazing when Ken used launch control to exit the building in full rallycross mode.

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With the intro out of the way there were just two more scenes to film before the end of day three.

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One was the roundabout in front of the station, which once a upon a time would have once been bustling with taxis and buses.

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And the other was the world’s cheapest donut box, which of course was a far cry from the world’s most expensive donut box in Gymkhana Eight.

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But instead of a cone, they used a wooden spindle, which was pretty cool. As much fun as it had been to shoot at Buffalo Central Terminal, the final day of filming was upon us.

The Train
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The Hoonigans searched far and wide for a local level crossing that also had a jump leading up to it, and I think they found the perfect spot. Ken was practicing his moves with his bicycle before he jumped in the car.

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So how did they pull off such a stunt? With impeccable timing. First, Ken made some attempts at the jump to see how long it took him to cross the tracks and to feel out the optimum line.

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Then they timed the train, did some quick math and figured out the exact time both needed to be moving at given speeds. What made everyone on set nervous was the fact that it takes about a quarter mile for the train to come to a stop while travelling at just 15mph.

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It felt like an eternity when the train started its run; the goal was for the driver to run it up to 15mph and then hold it there, at which point the Focus would launch. By the time Ken dropped the clutch, it seemed like there was no way he was going to make the crossing in front of the train, but of course he did, and with style.

South Park Avenue Bridge
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The last scene was shot on the South Park Avenue Bridge. This truss bridge doesn’t get used much these days, because large ships don’t sail though the area as often as they used to.

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Hoonigan Racing Division’s Ron Zaras and I decided it would be a good idea to climb one of the towers. I can tell you that I was shaking in my boots, but I was going to the top no matter what.

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The view from a maintenance platform was incredible and well worth the sweat that was pouring out of me.

Here’s Speedhunters’ friend Will Roegge on his way down the ladder to access the little platform.

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From a visual standpoint, it was awesome to be able to get these aerial angle shots. The local Police were also standing by in boats with scuba divers, just in case Ken drove off the end of the bridge as it was being raised up.

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Apparently it had not been used in months, and it’s also been years since anyone has been up in the towers while the bridge lifted. We soon found out why.

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It started swaying back and fourth and shook intensely. But of course, I just had to concentrate on getting photos as we only had one take with this scene and the light was fading quickly.

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What a way to end Gymkhana Nine.

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My buddy Eric Everly and company were filming from a helicopter, and they did a few passes under the bridge for good measure.

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I hope I’ve been able to provide a little insight into what it was like to be on set and how the crazy stunts came together. I also suggest you watch the very first Gymkhana video to see just how far this series has evolved in eight years.

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Our Gymkhana Nine coverage is not stopping here though; stay tuned for a Q&A session with Ken and the boys as we continue our look into taking a video production like this from concept to tire-frying reality.

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com

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33 comments

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1

When you want to shut down some of the busiest areas in one of the largest cities in Australia, and all you offer is a 'free' road safety video of course the government will say no. You need to pay big money to do any film production in Sydney. NSW police (well, Australian Government bodies in general) don't seem to appreciate 'hoon' videos.

They should have tried Queensland, but then none of the international audience would recognize parts of Queensland...

2

Nice camera angle on the 'key players' pic, Larry. Haa ;]
Also watching him drift that dock is a big ol bag of nope. lol

3

How about your fd Texas article

4

Its starting to get old
Like hearing Europe's 'The Final Countdown'

5

Ya I'm kinda over this same old stuff. The Mustang was cool, the car made it. This focus or whatever it is, is boring and ugly. Why don't they make another extreme machine, something with a bit of wow.

6

Another awesomely impressive video from Mr B. Quite honestly I'm still waiting for him to do something more with that MK2 Escort of his, which yeah, we all love the 'Stang but that Escort is incredible. The most impressive machine he has done IMO!

7

FTAO Larry 
Well this follow up is as brilliant as the video, not many websites could do that SH have. Larry you are a photo God among us. This is one of my favorite articles on here - nice one.

8

pardon me, as I download all the photo's of the building itself - what an incredible place

as a project manager at an architectural firm, I get to frequent many abandoned structures, and they are ALWAYS interesting in more ways than one...... 

I hope that this structure has a future

9

just as Steven implied I can't believe that a mom can make $9087 in 4 weeks on the internet . look at here now
❥ ❥ ❥ ❥ ➥ ➥  ➥ http://tinyurl.com/ztkz6fy

10

And of course Ken's car get the unobtanium Toyo R888R's. 

(unobtanium for us Americans at least)

11

I'm stunned that some one able to get paid $7516 in four weeks on the internet

12

johnbezt I don't know what you are talking about................

13

TurboHippie I'm waiting for the same thing. Hopefully soon enough.

14

MPistol So much asbestos.

15

my step dad got an awesome 12 month old Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV from only workin parttime on a pc

17

Wait... I specifically remember seeing a picture of Ken dropping a tire on the dock. From what you are saying, that didn't happen?

The article states: Ken got close to the edge twice, but the first time he just did not have enough speed to complete the rotation out of the donut box area. The second time is what you see in the video. I feel like any more rubber over the edge and things could have easily ended in disaster.

Why not mentioned that the wheel dropped off completely?

18

just as Jamie responded I can't believe that some one able to earn $7250 in a few weeks on the internet .see it here=====net.pro70­­.ℭomllllllll

19

my best frend got a stunning red Acura MDX SUV only from working part-time off a home computer...See it here====http://fave.co/2cZolmIᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵ

20

as Jamie said I'm blown away that a student can earn $8888 in a few weeks on the internet . 
                        http://fave.co/2d8h5YM

21

my Aunty Sarah recently got a fantastic metallic Mercedes-Benz E-Class Convertible from only workin part time on a computer...
                             http://fave.co/2d8h5YM

22

Although the shooting location was Buffalo, New York, the Head Hoonigan
in Charge was actually supposed to tear up Sydney, Australia, for this
ninth video. Could you imagine seeing perfect four-wheel drifts around
the Sydney Opera House? It surely would have been epic, but red tape got
in the way.
That's because Australia's decision makers all have their dicks tucked between their legs...Welcome to Australia. Please refrain from having any motor vehicular fun.

23

Ken was/is a Rally Driver, if he doesn't know where the corners of a ford focus are by now then he never will, if you get my meaning, of course he's amazing in it. but by number 9 its all the same stuff.  The Mustang was a breath of fresh air, lets see what else he can drive? Spice it up.  The negative comments/feedback on Youtube speak for them self.
The prep work, editing and crew are amazing but Ken needs to Spice it up with something,.. and I believe its a new Car

24

Anyone else finds gymk 9 a bit boring? Yes he is much more skilled than before. You can tell from the lesser tyre marks.. but still boring same old same stunts

25

That is an optical illusion. Look closer. That green bush is where my remote camera was.

26

my Aunty Clara got a 2013 Dodge Dart Sedan by working part time from the internet.

27

Larry Chen I see it now. The wood block was throwing me off and making it look like he dropped a tire off the edge.

Anyways, great shots as always Larry!

28

my Aunty Lyla got a 12 month old Mitsubishi i-MiEV only from working off a home pc... you can look here

29

as Henry said I am stunned that some one can earn $4447 in four weeks on the internet . See it here====http://fave.co/2cZolmIᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵ

30

good news for Europeans.....
my buddy's sister makes $71 /hour on the laptop . just click.....
http://tinyurl.com/online-jobs-for-Europeans

31

Larry, you mention that you were not able to make it to Europe to see Ken in the FIA World RX championship at the wheel of the Focus RSRX. Just so you know, there is a round of the FIA World RX Championship in North America, right here, in Trois-Rivières (Québec) Canada, less than 500 miles from Buffalo. In fact it was held right before the Gymkhana Nine Shooting! As the promoter of that event (http://www.gp3r.com), let me invite you personally to come and experience our event next year. Bring your gear, I think you'll be able to get a few shots worth your while!

32

my gf mom just got a nice 9 month old Mercedes-Benz S-Class S63 AMG just by some parttime working online with a cheap laptop... 
                       http://fave.co/2d8h5YM

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