It’s been roughly 24 hours since the world lost Ken Block in a snowmobile accident in Utah, and at this point there really isn’t anything else to say about him that hasn’t already been said. Since the news broke last night, there’s been an overwhelming outpouring of love and sympathy to one of the most important and influential figures in automotive culture and the motorsport industry. Pro drifters, media personalities, F1 champions, industry leaders, and anyone who ever watched one of his Gymkhana videos has had something to say about Ken and what he’s meant to them. A star like Ken Block doesn’t come around very often and the nonstop flow of tributes speaks volumes to how many lives he touched.
Ken Block will be sorely missed. As I said, there isn’t anything left to say about Ken that hasn’t already been said a million times in the last 24 hours. But I’ll try anyway.
I was a junior in high school when his first Ken Block Gymkhana Practice video started making the rounds. I was a recently licensed driver and was surrounding myself with fellow car nerds. We couldn’t stop talking about it. And when the sequel dropped the next year with higher production value and more ridiculous stunts, he became an instant legend. Back in the late 2000s we had never seen anything like that before. No one was drifting like that at the time. No one else was that precise, that creative, and that committed. And no one else was doing it in rally cars either.
The impact he had on younger generations of car enthusiasts like mine was immense – and I would say incalculable. Who knows how many young kids got into cars because they saw what Ken Block could do. Or how many aspiring builders and artists he spurred into action with his uniquely-liveried creations. For the past 14 years or so you couldn’t go to a car show or motorsport event without seeing someone wearing his gear. And I personally know a few people who got into Subarus and the world of rallying in general because of him.
My personal story with Ken Block is limited to just watching YouTube videos from afar, cheering him on whenever he released something new or got some sort of accolade or cameo. But if you want to read more personal words from those who knew him better, I can point you to Matt Farah at Road & Track, Jonny Lieberman at Motor Trend, and Jonathon Klein at The Drive. And Larry Chen, who has probably photographed Ken more than anyone else, has been posting some amazing shots to his Instagram as he revisits all of their shoots together. But if you’d rather just relive the memories of being blown away by some incredible driving, here’s a playlist with each of his Gymkhana videos instead.
Hooniverse sends love to Ken’s family, friends, and colleagues at Hoonigan. There will never be another one like Ken Block.
[Image credits: Audi, Larry Chen/Speedhunters]