Block, purveyor of slidey high-speed action, was shut down by the Sydney fun police during the planning process for Gymkhana 9.
"I apologise on behalf of Australia, it's embarrassing."
That's what I said to Hoonigan co-founder Ken Block, after he revealed how much they wanted to film an episode of his Gymkhana series in Sydney. It was ultimately kiboshed by the New South Wales fun police.
Block's videos net millions of views with his most popular recently breaking the 100 million mark. You'd think that publicity would be worth letting him break the speed limit here and there.
We had the chance to sit down with Block in New Zealand ahead of the Eneos International Rally of Whangarei, and wanted to get a better idea of what happened during the planning process for the Australian Gymkhana episode.
"I was actually really disappointing because we've dealt with the Australian market several times in the past and even to the point where one of the times that I came over, I think it might have been that one where I was at Calder Park [Calder Park raceway in Victoria] we actually made a t-shirt that was like 'Drive Responsibly' because like everything that I was doing they were taking in such a negative way," Block said.
"You're going to teach kids that this is what they should be doing and I'm like, 'well, yeah if you do it in the right, safe way'. You don't ever see me doing anything on a street that isn't a controlled situation."
"So, we try to be very plain and clear about the fact that everything we do is done in the safest way possible. But when we went to do the... you know we wanted to do Gymkhana 9 in Sydney, and we went about all the right steps to get film permits, work with the police and all that and then at the end of the day, the higher we went up the tree, we got to a certain point where that person said, 'okay well, I'm allowing Hoonigan on my streets, okay if you only go the speed limit'.
"That was actually one of the criteria that came down," said Block.
Ultimately, needing to do the speed limit over the Sydney Harbour Bridge made the team pull the pin on what would've been a pretty epic video.
"Yeah, I think we were even supposed to have the Harbour Bridge but that's one of the places they said I couldn't go faster than the speed limit. Yeah. That doesn't make a very good video," Block lamented.
Block went on to explain that Australia wasn't the only part of the world that stopped the filming process. Detroit, arguably the automotive epicentre of North America, also stopped Block's team from filming in older parts of the city.
"It's working with people that try and accomplish a goal, and they understand that there's certain people that just, they don't want it on them that they signed off on something so it rises to a certain level and a bureaucracy and same thing happened in Detroit," he said.
"We were trying to shoot Gymkhana 3 in Detroit but we wanted old Detroit and new Detroit and someone in the government, mayor's office just said, 'well, you can't use anything that's going to make us look bad'," he continued.
"That's probably the reason why I was going there. I like old Detroit and new Detroit, and there's a story there. You can't hide the fact like what happened in the automotive industry, it's going to have a huge economic impact.
"So, it is what it is but we've been very lucky to work with cities like Dubai... they paid for me to come there and do that but then you deal with Australia that doesn't have the same maybe economic needs and promotional needs that they can say, 'we don't care'."
"So, unfortunately it is what it is. I really enjoy New Zealand and Australia, I enjoy the car culture here, I enjoy the people and I really wanted to do that there. I thought it would've been really cool, but it is what it is. We invested a bunch of money to scout and do the work there and got nothing for it," said Block.
While it's a great shame we missed out, Block is still hopeful to do gymkhana in the future in Australia. Let's hope authorities finally come to their senses!
Which was your favourite gymkhana episode?