American motorsport legend and YouTube star Ken Block has died in a snowmobile accident in Utah at the age of 55.
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He was a competitive rally driver in series such as Rally America and Global Rallycross before becoming well-known for his “Gymkhana” video series on YouTube later in life.
Nearly two million subscribers watched the 10-part series in which he attempted risky racing feats.
Ken Block is also a co-founder of the skatewear clothing company DC Shoes.
Hoonigan Industries, another apparel company he founded, revealed his death in an Instagram statement on Monday.
“Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed.”
According to the local sheriff’s office, Ken Block was riding a snowmobile up a steep slope in Wasatch County, Utah, when the vehicle overturned and landed on top of him.
He was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of his injuries.
According to the sheriff’s office, Ken Block was travelling with a group but was alone when the crash occurred. Since 2005, Block has been a professional rally driver, winning Rally America’s Rookie of the Year in his debut season and going on to win rallycross medals at the X Games and podium finishes at the World Rallycross Championship.
He also participated in other extreme sports such as motocross, skateboarding, and snowboarding.
He has appeared twice on the BBC’s Top Gear and in four EA Sports racing video games.
The BBC apologised after Block and Top Gear host Matt LeBlanc performed doughnuts near the Cenotaph during a 2016 episode. The footage was never seen on television. The American Rally Association was “gutted” to learn of Block’s death.
“He was a massive influence on everything he touched, including the global world of rallying,” it said in a statement on Facebook.
Fellow racers also paid tribute to Block, with former British Formula One world champion Jenson Button calling him “a talent that contributed so much for our sport”.
Watching Block’s videos “influenced my mentality and interest in cars,” says Nascar Xfinity Series racer Ryan Vargas. Block leaves behind his wife, Lucy, and three children.
Block’s claim to fame in the racing world was his extremely entertaining Gymkhana video series, which displayed his daredevil high-speed but surgically precise driving and also revolutionised automotive videography.
Block, co-founder of DC Shoes, began rallying in the United States in 2005, first in the Rally America series and subsequently on an irregular basis in the WRC after signing a contract with Ford for what was initially known as the Monster World Rally Team.
In 2015, Block placed second in the Global Rallycross Championship before advancing to the FIA World Rallycross Championship the following year.
Block and Hoonigan left Ford at the beginning of 2021 before joining forces with Audi to pilot the German manufacturer’s electric-powered S1 concept rally car.
Block leaves behind his wife, Lucy, and three children.
An avid action sports enthusiast, Block was an ambassador for the industry and a family man who, in 2022, raced the American Rally Association Championship alongside his wife, Lucy, and their 16-year-old daughter, Lia.
“This year, Ken was so happy. At the races, he was happy to be racing with Lucy and to have his daughter racing and to have his kids at most of the races,” action sports icon Travis Pastrana told ESPN. “Few people get to the point in their lives where everything comes together, and to have it all taken away like this is devastating.”
“Ken was a legend in his ability to take a vision and make it a reality. He created an industry,” Steve Arpin, Block’s teammate in the Nitro RallyCross series, told ESPN. “But if you were lucky enough to know him, that’s where the best parts of Ken surfaced. He treated his friends like gold and would create opportunities for whoever wanted to put in the work. He was everything this world needs more of, and just happened to do a lot of really cool stuff on the side.”
Who is Ken Block?
Ken Block is an American professional rally driver.
Why was Ken Block famous?
Ken Block became an internet sensation through a series of high-production-value Gymkhana stunt-driving videos.