THE KIWI CONNECTION
TAKE A LOOK INTO THE BUILD OF KEN BLOCK’S INTERNET-EXPLODING HOONICORN AND THE KIWI TEAM BEHIND THE PROJECT
If you’re reading this then chances are you have watched one, or more likely all seven of Ken Block’s Gymkhana videos, which year on year over the past seven years have exploded YouTube upon their release. Each video took another step into further into insanity, but none more so than the latest —and in our minds greatest Gymkhana 7. Exactly why we think it’s the best video to date comes down to the hardware. Sure, the Subarus and Fords used in the first six were awesome performing machines, but Ken’s 1965 Ford Mustang — dubbed the Hoonicorn — stole the show, basically because no one expected Ken to build an all-wheeldrive tube-framed Ford Mustang powered by a 630kW, 6.7-litre (845hp, 410ci) Roush Yates V8, breathing through a Kinsler eight-stack ITB system, and putting power to all four fifteen52 wheels through a bespoke Sadev sequential six-speed all-wheel-drive gearbox, just to burn some tyres. Then there’s the stance — looking as extreme as it does, how could it not become the most talked-about car of 2014? You either love it or hate it — there’s no middle ground.
It is now widely known that the Hoonicorn was built by North Carolina–based ASD Motorsports, but what is relatively unknown is New Zealand’s connection with the car via a couple of blokes from Christchurch.
As some of you may be aware, ex-pat Kiwi Ian Stewart is the man behind the hugely successful ASD Motorsports company, and he was commissioned by Ken Block to build the car that would become the Hoonicorn. Jason Burke is the director and master fabricator at Christchurch-based Burke’s Metalworks. He was specifically chosen by Ian as the man for the job of transforming sketches and CAD renderings into something tangible.
We talked to both Ian and Jason to get some info on the build, and to find out how these Christchurch boys got involved in constructing the most polarizing car of 2014.
Autosport Dynamics Before we can get to ASD’s involvement with the Hoonicorn, we need to start with ASD. Ian grew up in Christchurch, and has been fascinated with racing since he was a kid. His dad was friends with many of the guys who raced at the local dirt track, Woodford Glen, and that was where Ian spent most of his Saturday nights when he was growing up. By the age of 16 he’d built his first race car — an offroad buggy. His dad had a repair shop, a small family business, and growing up into that — along with his love of racing — prompted Ian to become an apprentice mechanic in Christchurch’s CBD. By the age of 22 Ian had flown over to the UK with the intention of getting a job in British Formula 3. At the time the top team was West Surrey Racing, owned by Kiwi Dick Bennetts. Ian found employment as a mechanic at a Ford dealership, and over the next few months convinced Dick to give him a job as a number two mechanic. From being a number two mechanic on Mika Hakkinen’s car, Ian was taken on by Dick as a sort of trainee race engineer, working on Christian Fittipaldi’s car. “It was a kinda bullshit position he created, to be honest with you. He did me a huge favour, and I owe him a lot,” Ian said. It was there he began to learn more about the
engineering behind a race car and team.