Power to the ground

Hoonigan x Kubota

The roar of engines fills the air at Cootamundra airport, but today there isn’t an airplane in sight. Instead, the long stretch of runway is filled with cars of all shapes and sizes, heralding the arrival of American motorheads, the Hoonigans.

These high-octane YouTube sensations boast over five million subscribers. Renowned for their viral videos and death-defying stunts, the Hoonigans are the ultimate revheads – and they hold Australia in high regard. “Our name was actually derived from an Australian word. When we first heard the term ‘hoon’, we were like, that’s it,” says Hoonigan host and business development manager, Zac Mertens.

 

On their tour Down Under, the Hoonigans are filming content for their YouTube show This vs That. The online show sees two wildly different cars, hotted up within the same calibre and similar quarter mile times, compete in a full-throttle race. “Essentially it’s a drag race. There’s no timing, no lights or anything. It’s a simple hand drop,” Zac says.

 

“You might have an insane burnout car up against a slammed minivan. None of this should make any sense, but as it turns out they should, on paper at least, be about the same speed.”

 

Talk about a revhead’s dream. Today the gang are shooting multiple episodes, which means multiple laps of the airstrip. And there to ferry the boys from one end to another are Kubota’s trusty RTVs and an M7 tractor.

“One of the worst parts about shooting on an airstrip is you have to walk long distances back and forth, so it really helps having the RTVs to transport equipment and help get everybody around. It makes it much safer. All the vehicles are super easy to use,” Zac says as he points to the M7 tractor. “Like jumping in that thing. It’s gigantic. You think it’d be daunting, but it’s so simple and straightforward. “Everything works so well, it will even do a wheelie if you want it to. “I was told it couldn’t be done … but it can be done. I would not suggest doing it because I don’t want to hurt the machine,” he laughs, “but it can 
be done.”

 

Kubota has been a supporter of these auto enthusiasts since 2022. It all started when Hoonigan co-creator and rally car driver Ken Block approached the company to help develop his Utah ranch. “Ken’s dream was to build this ranch, like a motorhead’s paradise. We’re talking a full-blown gymkhana course, a worldclass supercross track, a snowboard park, downhill mountain bike runs, and another 1.1 mile RTV track with massive jumps,” Zac says.

 

“We already had a heap of Kubota equipment out there helping us to build the racing tracks, so we contacted the guys at Kubota USA. They were already aware of our brand and were more than happy to help. “The partnership was great because it meant we had even more equipment, so creating and maintaining all the tracks was easy.”

"I WAS TOLD IT COULDN’T BE DONE... BUT IT CAN BE DONE"

Tragically, Ken Block was killed in a snowmobile accident in Utah earlier this year. He was 55. His death sent shockwaves through the motorsport community. But according to Zac, his legacy lives on. “Ken’s passing was just so sad. He was someone we just never thought could die,” Zac says. “He taught us to push harder and harder and always aim
for perfection.”

 

Later this year, Hoonigan will be launching a racing series in memory of their fearless leader, with Gymkhana Grid returning to the United States. This year Kubota is coming on board to help provide the entertainment. “We’re doing this in honour of Ken, so we have to go big and make a spectacle out of everything,” Zac explains. “In car racing, it’s inevitable there will be crashes, so I said, ‘Let’s get the skid steers out there – let’s use them to clean up, but also do stunts.’

 

“We’re calling it the ‘Kubota Clean Up’. Basically it’s a stunt show based around the clean up using Kubota equipment.

 

“It’s been so great working with Kubota. There was no push back on the creative whatsoever. Everyone is so supportive of what we do. It’s been very cool.”

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