Ken Block, the pioneering rally driver, died in a snowmobile accident in Utah on Monday. He was 55.
“It’s with our deepest regrets that we can confirm that Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident today,” his Hoonigan brand said in a statement. “Ken was a visionary, a pioneer, and an icon. And most importantly, a father and a husband.”
A 23-time winner on the U.S. domestic rally scene and a six-time victor in Global Rallycross, Block is perhaps best known for his Gymkhana series of web videos.
Initially created to advertise the DC Shoes brand which he founded, the series became an internet phenomenon. The series has garnered almost 629 million views to date, with Block’s most recent appearance coming in last October’s ‘Electikhana’, the first entry in the series to feature an electric car, and the springboard for a wide-ranging interview that Block gave RACER.com in November.
The series also spawned a real-world motorsport series, Gymkhana Grid, which has held contests all over the world and featured on the X Games bill in 2013.
Block, a passionate fan of rallying and its history, made his debut in the discipline in 2004’s Rally of the Tall Pines in Canada. He contested a full slate of events the following year, and claimed his first victory in 2006’s Rally in the 100 Acre Wood – an event he’d go on to win seven times in total, including five in a row between 2006-10. A foray into the World Rally Championship for 2011 stopped a potential seven year undefeated run at the Salem, Missouri event, as he won again on his return there in 2012.
Block made 24 starts in the WRC, the majority of those coming at the top level. His best results came in Mexico, where he finished seventh in 2013. He also claimed top-10 results in Spain, France, Great Britain, and New Zealand during a 12-year on/off career in rallying’s top flight.
More recently, Block narrowly lost out to Brandon Semenuk in the 2022 American Rally Association National championship, losing the championship in the final round after retiring.
As well as rallying, Block also dabbled in rallycross, where he was a frontrunner in the now-defunct GRC series. His best year came in his last in the series, 2015, when he won three rounds, and he was the favorite for the championship for much of the year until a late-season resurgence from the Volkswagen Andretti team, and a roll in Barbados derailed his campaign.
Nevertheless, the following year he entered the World Rallycross championship with full factory backed two-car team with Andreas Bakkerud, finishing third in a hotly contested second round of the 2016 season at Hockenheim.
Block was also a five-time X Games Medallist, most notably taking bronze behind Travis Pastrana and the late Colin McRae in the 2006 rallying contest, and silver behind WRC icon Sebastien Loeb in the 2012 rallycross contest, despite running much of the final with three tires.
Ken Block is survived by his wife Lucy, another keen motorsport competitor, and three children including Lia who, as well as featuring in some of her father’s recent online content, has also been embarking on a motorsport career of her own with starts in the ARA in a Ford Fiesta and in Nitro Rallycross’ side-by-side division.