Ken Block is the new Racing Advisor for the franchise. I spoke with him about the game, rallying, and why Gymkhana's so much fun to watch.
Christian Moe: So, how did you get into rally racing to begin with?
Ken Block: Rally was something I was always a fan of when I was a kid, but I thought it was just this European-only thing. In 2004, Travis Pastrana went to rally and it woke me the scene here in the States. I went to this New Hampshire rally school and found out I had some talent. In 2005 I won Rookie of the Year. Literally a dream come true.
CM: Apart from the actual rally racing, you're probably best known for your Gymkhana videos; the comical, technically impressive, and cinematically gorgeous spectacles of tire smoke and noise. What inspired you to do the Gymkhana videos?
KB: It is a mix of skateboarding and its all for fun. I never competed with a skateboard. With rally it was just the opposite, it is all race and no fun. There is no time to have fun with it. If you are in the car, you are racing, or testing for a race. That is how I got started with Gymkhana; I wanted to do fun things in the car. The stunts just started with me trying things and having fun with the car. I just found more ways I could push myself and push the car.
CM: You're surrounded by the world of racing and have plenty of opportunities to get behind the wheel of some impressive machines. So what does Ken Block park in his driveway?
KB: It's not very exciting. [laughs] I have a Ford Raptor and a Focus ST. I used to have a [Bentley] Continental GT, but I was always too worried about it to really drive it. When you have a car like that you constantly think about scratches and curbing the wheels and things. That is what makes Need for Speed fun for me. You can drive these exotics very aggressively and have lots of fun as opposed to worrying about them.
CM: We all know your role behind the steering wheel. What will you be up to with Electronic Arts?
KB: I didn't actually have much input on the new game, my job is mostly marketing. I did get to play it though and offer a little bit of feedback, but the game is basically finished. We have a new Gymkhana 6 video coming that is sponsored by Need for Speed Rivals. It will still be me and my car, but there are some exotics in it. I can't say much about it, but the video comes out at SEMA.
CM: What about your future with Need for Speed?
KB: I've enjoyed interacting with and playing car video games for most of my life. I would like to have Gymkhana involved. Currently, the whole creative process is what I really enjoy. It's what is genuinely fun for me.