Multiple sources report that rally driver and automotive superstar Ken Block died in a snowmobile accident on Jan. 2. The Gymkhana pioneer and Hoonigan co-founder was 55.
“It’s with our deepest regrets that we can confirm that Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident today,” said Hoonigan on its official Instagram account. “Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed.”
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The cause of the accident was confirmed by the Wasatch County Sheriff Department in a Facebook post:
On January 2, 2023 at approximately 2:00 p.m., the Wasatch County 911 Center received a call reporting a snowmobile accident in the Mill Hollow area.
Search and Rescue, along with law enforcement from Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office, Utah State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service responded.The driver, Kenneth Block, 55-year-old male out of Park City, Utah, was riding a snowmobile on a steep slope when the snowmobile upended, landing on top of him. He was pronounced deceased at the scene from injuries sustained in the accident.
Mr. Block was riding with a group but was alone when the accident occurred.
This matches with posts on Block’s own Instagram account, which included stories referencing a ride in CanAm snowmobiles on January 2nd. His last post, however, was about an ongoing project with his 16-year old Lia.
From winning Rally America’s Rookie of the Year award in his inaugural 2005 rally season to breaking new ground in internet car culture with his Gymkhana series of videos, Block was one of the most influential drivers of the 21st century. Not only did he bring a new American audience to rallying, he introduced an entire generation to the joys of oversteer and built the Hoonigan brand into the omnipresent force it is today.
Go to almost any car meet in American and you’ll probably find a car repping a Hoonigan sticker. The impact of Block’s work and ‘send it’ mentality is felt in every facet of the car community.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect the co-founder of a shoe company to be one of the leading faces of car culture, but Block’s company DC Shoes always maintained a focus on action and extreme sports, which plays nicely with the insanity of rallying. After all, a double-backflip on a BMX bike and going Mach Jesus through the woods both induce an adrenaline rush. After selling DC Shoes to Quiksilver in 2004, Block took on rallying with a Vermont SportsCar-prepped Subaru WRX STI in the 2005 Rally America season. With five top-five finishes and a podium in the Group A class in his first year, Block showed talent straight out of the gate.
From Rally America to the World Rally Championship to Global Rallycross, Block kept going fast on dirt, in the process bringing legions of fans to the sport. However, he probably isn’t best known for his rallying, but instead for igniting internet car culture with his Gymkhana series. While Gymkhana Practice in 2008 was a little bit lo-fi, things kicked off in a big way with 2009’s Gymkhana 2. In an era when online car videos often comprised of static shots, Block went big by going absolutely balls-out in a shipping yard, sliding his WRX STI wherever he could fit it. The video’s since racked up more than 53 million views and really set the stage for an incredible series of videos.
In addition to the unstoppable force of Gymkhana, Block appeared in the “Dirt” series of video games, on Top Gear, and in 2015’s “Need For Speed.” Plus, Block’s Hoonigan brand has become a sensation of its own, helping launch multiple talents. If it weren’t for Ken Block, car culture wouldn’t be where it is today. Social media networks have been flooded with tributes all evening from friends, colleagues, and admirers.
I’m speechless. Another legend gone entirely too soon. Ken Block was an incredibly huge inspiration to myself and so many others in the car community. He will definitely be missed. #RIP #KenBlock pic.twitter.com/ItNvzV4F9A
— Gavin Trace Simon (@itsjusta6_) January 3, 2023
DirtFish extends its deepest sympathies to Ken Block's family and friends. There are no words powerful enough to do justice to the pain so many are feeling from the impact of this snowmobiling accident, but the rally world is here, we stand with you, and we we aren’t moving. pic.twitter.com/RrtSbEBGlc
— DirtFish (@DirtFishRally) January 3, 2023
Ken Block was one of my first major interviews. I was 19 and nervous, but he showed me so much kindness and respect. I don’t think I’ve fretted an interview since (for better or worse).
I’ve seen a lot of stories about how Ken impacted us tonight, and I hope we never forget them
— Alanis King (@alanisnking) January 3, 2023
RIP Ken Block ????I will never forget this video of you drifting. Ever since than my love for cars and street performance has never stopped. pic.twitter.com/EubP5X9oFZ
— Calletano (@callo__Topete94) January 3, 2023
When I think of Ken Block I’ll choose to remember this photo. He was one of the first racers I ever saw support the LGBTQIA+ community. As a young ace scared of coming out, seeing one of my heroes open up as an ally meant the world to me. His light will never disappear. pic.twitter.com/SU5pQmhD3E
— Michael Klein (@michaelklein10a) January 3, 2023
— Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) January 3, 2023
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Block is survived by his wife, Lucy, and his three children.