The Big Problem With the New Gymkhana

It has nothing to do with the stunts, the cars, or Travis Pastrana.


The latest Gymkhana video from our pals at Hoonigan is a riot. The Subaru Family Huckster is an amazing car, the stunts are rad as hell, and Travis Pastrana drives with a level of flair that'd be right at home on a vest at Chotchkies. You'll be hooked as soon as Pastrana does a 50/50 grind over a drawbridge in a Subaru wagon. That's not the issue.

The problem? You can't see Pastrana's eyes.

This Gymkhana, like the last one that Pastrana was in, has a slew of sponsors that helped make it happen. One of those is Pit Viper, the shield sunglasses that look like old Oakleys but are cool now, I guess. In the last video, you could spot the glasses all over the video, on bystanders and in the end credits. Pastrana wore a pair with clear lenses, and that let you see his deep concentration along with every single wince, squint, and wide-eyed moment.

From Gymkhana 2020

In the 2020 video, there were points where Pastrana's eyes would open wide. He looked like he was, like you, also genuinely wondering what the hell he was doing, if he was going to make it out. Look at the photo above. Is that the face of man who looks confident that he's going to land this jump just fine? Not even a little, and that's what makes it so exciting.

We hold so much of our facial expressions in our eyes, and even though Pastrana has done some of the gnarliest stunts on two or four wheels (or no wheels at all), he still appeared to think he might be a bit crazy for doing all of it. Pastrana starring in a Gymkhana breathed new life into the franchise after years of Ken Block's quiet stoicism.

This time, though, Pastrana is wearing Pit Vipers with tinted lenses. While his eyes are undoubtedly better protected from harmful UVA and UVB rays–always important!–there's no way to see just how wide they got over some of those jumps or if he truly cringed diving the Subie into that small pond. This video has more outrageous stunts than that last one, but no moments from inside the car that show just how on the edge he is both as a driver and a human.

I imagine it was a Pit Viper choice, if they were sponsoring the thing, they wanted to be front and center in the entire video, and being in Fort Lauderdale, it made sense to use actual sunglasses and not clear lenses. Plus, that's what most people would associate with the brand. Fair enough, but wearing the glasses loses that subtle drama and fear that was ingrained in the 2020 video. A shame, really, because this is one of the most kickass Gymkhana videos in recent memory.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Columns