Ken Block ripped through a closed-down Las Vegas Strip in his one-of-a-kind Audi S1 EV—named the Hoonitron—for his new installment of Gymkhana, dubbed Electrikhana. Maybe you’ve seen some of the tire-meltingly radical Gymkhana videos of Block, race car driver and head Hoonigan, masterfully manipulating different high-powered vehicles through labyrinthian courses in cool locales. The 10 films, which have amassed over a billion views, just got topped this week before the upcoming opening of SEMA (Specialty Equiment Market Association) through the streets of the City That Never Sleeps.
Past Gymkhana vehicles have included high-powered, special-built cars. Racers like a Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Ford Fiesta HFHV, Ford Mustang Hoonicorn, and Ford F-150 Hoonitruck were featured. The goal of the flicks is to highlight Block performing a stylized, heightened-for-film “gymkhana.” In the auto racing world, that’s where a driver navigates a predetermined course, showing off many different driving techniques. In Block’s case. that means lots and lots of burnouts and drifting and other maneuvers that end up shredding tires.
For this year, his new sponsor, Audi, decided to make him a special electric car just for the show.
“While I may love the sound of a turbo engine, or the grunt of a V8, we have done that all before,” said Block. “The instant torque and shiftless nature of an electric motor allowed for us to push certain tricks to a whole new realm. From extremely exaggerated backward entries to flawless high-speed 360s to four-wheel smoking launches, this Hoonitron is an all-new experience. The final tire-killing center axis donuts reached wheel speed of over 140kph and created G forces I’ve never experienced before in any racecar.”
Work on the unique EV began in March 2021 in Germany with a team of Audi’s crack engineers and designers who had to beat a nine-month deadline to build the car. Hints of the Audi Quattro S1 E2 Pikes Peak car went into the outer shell, while e-tron performance from the Formula E racing efforts informed the chassis and drivetrain. Those influences created an all-wheel-drive, two-motor torque machine that generates over 4,400 ft lbs of torque at the wheels. That astounding number gobbled up three times the amount of Toyo tires normally consumed during a Gymkhana filming.
“With the S1 Hoonitron, we broke entirely new ground at Audi,” said Oliver Hoffmann, member of the board for technical development at Audi. “Developing a fully electric prototype for the unique requirements of our partner, Ken Block, was a big and exciting challenge to which the whole team rose with flying colors. After seeing the Electrikhana film, all I can say is well done everyone and thank you very much for having us involved in this truly exceptional project.”
Hoonigan and Ken Block are known for their ambitious shoots in interesting locales, like when they shut down parts of San Francisco for Gymkhana Nine. For this electric version of the frenetic series, they were able to gain access to the Las Vegas Strip for hours under the neon glow. The new Electrikhana film includes spots like Fremont Experience along with multiple casinos. The result is a stunning and iconic entry into the Gymkhana canon. And it’s made all the more exhilarating by the near-silent whirr of the Audi EV punctuated by the squeal of burning rubber and flashing lights of Vegas.
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