Rally driver turned extreme sports star and cultural visionary Ken Block, whose daredevil stunt driving and Hoonigan brand helped define car enthusiasm for a generation, passed away on Monday, January 2, at the age of 55 following a snowmobiling accident in northern Utah.
Earlier on Monday, Block posted several updates to his Instagram Stories showing him preparing for a day of snowmobiling with a group in the mountains outside Park City, Utah, where he owned a home. The Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Block was riding his machine up a steep slope when it flipped over backward and landed on top of him. Though his companions quickly called 911, he was pronounced dead at the scene after a search and rescue team located his group in what appeared to be heavy weather. The Sheriff’s office provided a photo of where the incident occurred.
Founding DC Shoes in 1994 with a few others, Ken Block had an extreme impact on the global car community, one so vast that it’s hard to sum everything up into one story. It seemed like he was everywhere over the last decade, from rallying, drifting, hill-climbing, Gymkhana-ing, pushing the limits wherever he could, however he could while having a blast while doing it. One moment, we would see him turning up to run the Pike’s Peak Hillclimb; the next, he would be at a World Rally Championship race or having an appearance in a Gymkhana video. Meanwhile, the Hoonigan lifestyle, videos, and apparel brand he co-founded helped bring millions of young enthusiasts into the fold. Block understood that car culture has to be about having fun if it has any hope of hanging on for another generation.
Ken Block Turned A Generation Onto Ford Performance
After pioneering Gymkhana with Subaru, Block was instrumental in turning a generation back to having fun with Ford products. Block signed with Ford Performance in 2010, and a number of his accomplishments as a rally driver were done in a Ford. He competed in a Ford Escort Cosworth rally car, a Fiesta, and a Focus in several rally disciplines, including the World Rally Championships and Rallycross, posting a total of 19 wins, 17 podiums, and two X Games medals. Behind the wheel of a Ford Escort, he also won the first-ever all-electric Projekt E race of the FIA World Rallycross Championship staged in Holjes, Sweden, in 2020. Before his untimely death, he was signed with Audi, and showed off his skills on the Las Vegas strip during the week of the SEMA show filming “Electrikhana” with a custom built Audi S1 “Hoonitron”. And just yesterday, he posted a photo teasing an upcoming video of his daughter rebuilding an Audi Quattro. Indeed, Block was in the middle of his life when it was tragically cut short while having fun.
But, perhaps Block was best known for hooning around cities in his Hoonigan and Monster-branded vehicles. In 2012, he tore up downtown San Francisco in a 650 horsepower Hoonigan Fiesta, portrayed in a YouTube video that generated over 113 million views. A few years later, he slid his iconic 845 horsepower 1965 all-wheel-drive Mustang, dubbed the “Hoonicorn,” around the streets of LA in 2014. But, it wasn’t until 2017, when he hung the tail of his Mustang over a cliff in the inaugural “Climbkhana” video on Pikes Peak, just inches from disaster, that proved how far he was willing to go for a thrill and video gold. Following that, the second Climbkhana dropped in 2019, where Block piloted a 900+ hp “Hoonitruck” up Tianmen Mountain in China. And to inspire an entire generation of motorsports enthusiasts to achieve greatness just as he did.
Ford CEO Jim Farley posted on Twitter about the tragedy, highlighting how Ken Block inspired everyone at Ford Motor Company. Our hearts go out to his family and friends during this time. We mourn his loss together with the greater automotive community.
This is heartbreaking. I was lucky enough to call @kblock43 a friend. He was truly a legend and inspiration to all of us at @Ford. pic.twitter.com/nVqZBM7mlX
— Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) January 3, 2023