The entire motoring community is in shock today at the news that rally star and car enthusiast Ken Block passed away on January 2. He was 55.
Confirmation of his death comes from Hoonigan’s Instagram account on 2 January, which announced that Block was involved in a fatal snowmobile accident. The post reads:
“It is with our deepest regrets that we can confirm that Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident today.
Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And most importantly, a father and husband.
He will be incredibly missed.
Please respect the family’s privacy at this time while they grieve.”
Californian-born Block began his rallying career in the Rally America series starting in 2005, most notably behind the wheel of Subaru’s WRX STI. His videos have set YouTube alight, with some notching up more than 80 million views from an army of petrolheads who came to appreciate Block’s daring spirit and dazzling stunts.
As well as co-founding fashion brand DC Shoes, Block, along with Brian Scotto, co-founded Hoonigan – the brand under which he has rallied since 2010, while Hoonigan also produces automotive videos for YouTube, with an audience of more than five million subscribers, sells merchandise, and generally celebrates driving and car culture.
Block has also variously competed in the X Games, the World Rally Championship, and the World Rallycross Championship, primarily with Ford Performance, who partnered Block from 2010 to 2021. Along with Ford and Hoonigan, he created a series of outrageous project cars based on models like the Mustang, Focus, Fiesta, and F-150.
Since 2021, Block had been working with Audi, building an ur-Quattro road car with his daughter Lia as her first car, and driving the Hoonitron, a wildly powerful electric vehicle inspired by the Quattro Group B cars.
Block became best known for his spectacular Gymkhana videos, a series of viral smash hits starting in 2008. His gymkhana-style stunt driving, seemingly always on the edge, was a contrast to his calm demeanour and poise behind the wheel.
In that respect, Block was much like one of his rallying heroes, Colin McRae. Block credited McRae as being the main influence on him becoming a rally driver. In an interview with Top Gear, Block said that “the way he embodied the sport, the way he had fun with the car, that just spoke to me in such a different way than any other driver”.
The pair competed at the X Games in 2007 and quickly became friends, only shortly before McRae’s passing in September that year. It’s no understatement to say that Block has done for rallying’s popularity, in the US especially, what McRae did for the sport in the 1990s.
In addition to his automotive exploits, Block competed in skateboarding, motocross, and snowboarding events. His wife and daughter also both compete in rallying.
An entire generation has been inspired by Block’s incredible driving and positive attitude. Our thoughts are with Block’s family and friends at this time.
This article was originally published on Hagerty US.