Ken Block at the World Rallycross of Portugal in April 2017.Photo: Paulo Oliveira / DPI / NurPhoto (Getty Images)
Ken Block, the rally racer most famous for co-founding Hoonigan Industries and starring in the wildly popular Gymkhana series of stunt driving videos, was killed in a snowmobile crash on Monday, January 2nd, according to a statement posted to Instagram. He was 55 years old.
Block’s career reached far beyond the rally and racing world — alongside Damon Way, Block co-founded the apparel company DC Shoes in 1994. He was a competitive skateboarder, motocrosser, and snowboarder. But to car enthusiasts, Block is best known for rallying and as a founder of Hoonigan Industries.
Block’s racing career began in Rally America. In 2005, he entered the national rally racing scene as a member of the Vermont SportsCar team, and nabbed the title of Rookie of the Year. The following year, Block entered the first X Games rally driving event, and in 2007 he began competing in the World Rally Championship. In 2010, Block founded the Monster World Rally Team, becoming the first American driver to compete in WRC rally racing. In 2012, he changed the name of the team to Hoonigan Racing Division, competing in the Global Rallycross Championship, and later, FIA World Rallycross.
Away from the world of rally racing, Block was best known as a co-founder of Hoonigan Industries, a media production and apparel company focused on younger car enthusiasts. Hoonigan soon became famous through Block’s Gymkhana video series. The first video, published in 2008, seems almost tame compared with what came after: An increasingly extreme series of videos showcasing Block (and later, a whole cavalcade of stunt drivers) drifting, jumping, and sliding around in a masterclass of car control and courage. Early videos showcased Block’s rally and rallycross cars, but more recent videos featured custom-built Hoonigan machines constructed exclusively for Gymkhana. The most recent installment, Gymkhana 11, featured Block ripping around Las Vegas in an electric Audi rally car.
Through his competition in WRC and rallycross, Block became the face of rally racing in America, taking the sport from an esoteric niche to mainstream renown among car enthusiasts. And Hoonigan rose to a dominant position in the automotive world, speaking to a younger generation of car enthusiasts and creating a rowdy, DIY image that resonated with gearheads around the globe.
Block is survived by his wife, Lucy, and three children; his daughter, Lia, has recently been involved with Hoonigan video series of her own, and Lucy and Lia have both competed alongside Ken in the American Rally Association championship. Jalopnik has reached out to a family representative for comment; we will update this article with any information we receive.