Creating (and Hiding) A YouTube Phenomenon

How do you hide a movie production on the streets of Los Angeles from 10 million people? “We just tell everybody we’re filming a Canadian TV show called Unicorn,” said Brian Scotto, “and nobody wants to stick around to see that.” Scotto would know, as creative director of Ken Block’s Gymkhana 7, and former editor-in-chief of 0-60 magazine, he’s been targeting audiences for years.

That’s why he came to HOT ROD in 2013 with a rendering of the Mustang on the cover, and why I’m telling you to navigate to to see it in action. Put simply, the Gymkhana 7 Mustang was created for us—a group that may not have known who Ken Block is or what his Gymkhana videos are.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: Block is a 47-year-old master marketer and race-car driver. Gymkhana is a form of precision driving derived from equestrian time trials. Since 2008 Block has made seven Gymkhana videos for YouTube showcasing his talent behind the wheel. His choice of steed had been a Ford Fiesta rally car, but in Gymkhana 7 he’s saddled up to an 850hp, four-wheel-drive 1965 Mustang for 12 minutes of tire roasting created for our global viewing pleasure.

Hiding the shoot of a video intended to go viral is a strange contradiction. Scotto and I joked about that as we met on set at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Of course, by “set” I really mean the iconic Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange in Los Angeles where the 105 and 110 freeways cross—better known as where the “bus jump” was shot in the 1994 Keanu Reeves’ movie Speed. There we were standing next to a one-of-none Mustang and I knew you’d want to see the car up close and see what made it burn rubber the way it does.

I asked the Hoonigan Racing team to sneak the car into our studio the Friday after they were done filming. But I had to be in Ohio that day and feared one of our sister magazines would see the Mustang and post something about it online—but nothing showed up. When I got back to the office on Monday, I asked if anyone had seen what was shot in the studio? Nobody had.

HOT ROD’s digital art director, Ryan Lugo (who owns two Mustangs), asked me, “Oh, do you mean the girls for Surfing magazine?” Nope. But now I know what stealth technology to use when I want to hide a car from car guys.

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