One sunny day last summer, star rally driver Ken Block donned his racing helmet, strapped into his 600-hp Ford Fiesta rally car and rocketed west from Oakland across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco.
Driving on closed-off streets, he proceeded to burn up the pavement in a gravity-defying 21st-century reprise of the tire-squealing car chase in the movie Bullitt, in which Steve McQueen raced through the city in a 1968 Ford Mustang GT.
Video cameras followed Block's every hair-raising stunt from inside the car and out. Since Block posted it on YouTube July 9, more than 42 million people have viewed his "DC Shoes: Ken Block's Gymkhana Five: Ultimate Urban Playground; San Francisco" video featuring his tire-smoking doughnuts, extreme drifting and soaring jumps.
That number is music to the ears of Ford marketer Scott Denby. So is this one: More than 3.1 million people like Block on Facebook. That compares with more than 362,000 people who like NASCAR driver Danica Patrick on Facebook.