Petrolheads young and old are mourning the passing of Ken Block, who was killed in a snowmobile accident near his ranch in Utah on 2 January.
Best known to many for his series of ‘gymkhana’ videos on YouTube that saw the American thrash road and rally cars around various environments, Block's sale of his stake in the DC Shoes footwear brand he co-founded in 1994 funded a career in motorsport, specifically rallying.
Starting at the national level with the Rally America series in 2005, Block won 16 events and finished runner-up in that championship on three occasions. His first experience of the WRC was in 2007 and he would compete sporadically in that championship until 2018, by which time he’d founded his own team, Hoonigan Racing.
At the same time, Block was competing in the X Games and Rallycross at national, European and international level, with several wins in the Global Rallycross Championship and podiums in the FIA equivalent.
The gymkhana video series kicked off in 2008, with Subaru Imprezas used for the first two editions, then Fords (Fiesta, Focus, Escort RS, Mustang, F-150) for Gymkhanas 3 through 10.
As the videos attracted millions of views, particularly amongst younger people, Block built a huge following, leading to subsequent editions being more elaborate and the driving more extreme. Locations included the streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, New York and Texas, as well as Sweden, Mexico, China and the UAE.
After parting ways with Ford in early 2021, Block briefly reunited with Subaru, then signed a deal with Audi later that year, resulting in the bespoke, fully electric ‘S1 Hoonitron’, which Block thrashed through the streets of Las Vegas in the first ‘Electrikhana’ video.
Released last October, Electrikhana was the first in a series of planned joint projects between Block and Audi exploring electric mobility that are now likely to be abandoned.
Ken Block is survived by wife Lucy and three children, the eldest of which, Lia, has followed her famous father into motorsport.