Later today, the ninth instalment in Ken Block’s tyre-torturing Gymkhana series will be released to the world, but despite the series’ incredible popularity, it very nearly didn’t happen at all.
Gymkhana Nine takes place in Buffalo, New York, but Block’s original vision was for the film to be set in Sydney, Australia, to tie in with his new partnership with the Forza Horizon 3 video game, which is set in Australia.
However, Australian authorities took the decision to bar Block and his Hoonigan Racing team from obtaining the necessary shooting permits in time, forcing a last-minute rethink of the entire concept.
Speaking to Jalopnik, Hoonigan Racing’s senior director of brand and marketing Matt Tuccillo said: “The police down there started to make things difficult with the permitting process for the locations we were trying to secure, both public and private.
“Apparently we were going to be ‘bad’ for Australia and as we got closer and closer to filming we started to lose more and more locations that we had secured, ultimately forcing us to abandon the concept.”
Tuccillo said that the video’s original concept was to use iconic locations like the Sydney Opera House, but that the shoot would have only required small, empty roads to be shut temporarily.
Authorities refused, and instead suggested that the Hoonigan crew shoot on the nearby Cockatoo Island, but Tuccillo and Block claimed it wouldn’t have the same visual impact and scrapped the plans.
Australian law is particularly strict on speeding, street racing and any other potentially dangerous behaviours or activities in a car, which authorities legally term “hooning”.
For many parts of the world, hooning is a slang term and also it served as the inspiration for the name of Block’s racing team, but in Australia it’s considered a severe public nuisance.
As a result, it’s unsurprising that Australia vetoed the rallycross star’s attempts, even though Block offered to shoot a public service film warning against dangerous driving for free.
Still, Tuccillo swears that Gymkhana Nine is going to be great regardless of where it’s set, with the film set to be the most “raw” video in a long time.
In any case, you can catch Block and the new Ford Focus RS RX in the latest Gymkhana film when it’s released today at 2pm GMT.