Ken Block Killed in Snowmobiling Accident in Utah
The rally driver, Gymkhana star, and all around cultural icon died on Monday following an accident in Utah, according to his reps.
Ken Block, the rally driver turned extreme sports star and cultural visionary 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. According to the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office, Block was riding his machine up a steep slope when it flipped over backwards and landed on top of him. Though his companions were able to place a 911 call, he was pronounced dead at the scene after a search and rescue team located his group in what looked like heavy weather. Below is a photo of where it happened, supplied by the sheriff's office.
As shocking as this is, it's just as daunting to even try to sum up the impact of someone like Ken Block. It felt like he was everywhere over the last decade—rallying, drifting, hill-climbing, Gymkhana-ing, just pushing the limits wherever he could, however he could, and having a hell of a time doing it. One second he'd be at a World Rally Championship race in Spain, the next he'd be turning up to run Pike's Peak, and the next he'd be sliding across your screen in the latest Gymkhana video. Meanwhile, the Hoonigan lifestyle, video, and apparel brand he co-founded in 2010 helped bring millions of young enthusiasts into the fold through the madcap, send-it energy running through all its various projects. Block understood that car culture has to be about having fun if it has any hope of hanging on for another generation.
Block's career itself is just as hard to cram into a single story. He co-founded DC Shoes back in 1994 and went on to compete professionally as a skateboarder and motocross racer. In 2005 he burst onto the rally scene in Rally America, eventually stringing together enough wins to earn some WRC seat time that he parlayed into setting up the Monster World Rally Team in 2010, making him the first American to compete for the World Rally Championship. At the same time, he was running in multiple rallycross championship series and filming his first Gymkhana videos under the Hoonigan banner, which are collectively one of the greatest driving showcases ever put together—oft imitated, never repeated.
That success and visibility, not to mention his unreal skills, made him a go-to stunt driver in the industry; if you needed something jumped or slid or spun, you called Block. He turned up in TV specials, in video games, on Top Gear, and more. And though he'd assumed something of an elder statesmen role in the enthusiast community in recent years, he was far from done. Block took a shot at a Pikes Peak record last June that was derailed by last minute mechanical issues, and he was in the middle of preparing to go back for it. He just announced new a partnership with Audi and debuted the first "Electrikhana" video, filmed in Vegas and featuring a wild electric Audi S1 Quattro restomod. And in 2022, he once again ran in the American Rally Association Championship alongside his teenage daughter Lia.
Block leaves behind a wife, three kids, and an immense, indelible impact on car culture. Through it all he built a reputation as a genuine, authentic guy; a gearhead's gearhead; an ultra talented driver; and a caring, loving husband and father. His death creates a gigantic hole that will never be filled.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Block twice in 2022—once in June after his Pikes Peak debacle, and again in October after the debut of Electrikhana. At Pikes, we asked him about a new hoodie being sold by Hoonigan that said "Just don't die," inspired by something his wife Lucy told him.
"We all accept the concept that things can go wrong at any point though, we just have to be smart about how we do it," Block replied. "I look at the 'Just Don't Die' thing as a 'good luck' or 'break a leg' type thing. It's meant to acknowledge the danger, but do it in a smart way to come home to my family."
This post is breaking and will be updated.