Ken Block Passes Away in Snowmobile Accident

By Matthew Selman

Action sports legend Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident on January 2, 2023. He was a pioneer in American rally driving, and one of the most beloved drivers around the world. Block generated billions of views with his brazen driving antics. From drifting the streets of San Francisco to creating an insanely successful automotive lifestyle brand called Hoonigan, Block was always inspiring people to take their lives to the next level.

Block was the co-founder of DC Shoes, which blew up in the early 2000s. He sold his share of the company to Quiksilver in 2004 for $87 million dollars, which is when he was able to invest money into other ventures. This is when he started racing professionally for the Vermont Sportscar team in 2005. Over the next 10 years he went on to win more than 25 rally events, and proved he was one of the best.

After building his driving status, he created a Youtube channel called Hoonigan, where he tested custom built rally cars, drag raced cars with his friends, and his most viewed, “Gymkhana” an annual video where he drifted around insane obstacles, streets, and even moving trains. The channel started out with minimally prepared courses where Ken would drift around a few buildings and do some donuts. Block always had one of the most creative minds when it came to racing. Gymkhana videos began to blow up, and he was able to do sponsors so he could maximize his creativity in videos. 

In 2013, he got a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something nobody else had ever done, drift the streets of San Francisco. It took months of planning and cooperation between city officials, police, and property owners. It took them four days to get each stunt recorded, and loads of editing and rehearsing. He is seen using the steep hills of the city as a ramp, drifting DOWN the hills of the Richmond District, and doing donuts on a cargo ship. The video produced 115 million views and inspired Block to up the ante for future videos.

After successfully drifting the streets of San Francisco, other cities and companies saw it as an amazing business opportunity. One year later he made another video sponsoring the new Need For Speed game. Generating more than 50 million views, it was sure that Gymkhana was a great marketing strategy.  Millions of people were mind blown by Block’s capabilities behind the wheel, and they looked forward to what he would think of next. A few years later he got the green light to drift the streets of London, but this time he wasn’t doing it alone, he called for Matt Leblanc. The two of them sipped tea while spinning around the city in an extremely modified  1965 Ford mustang. Ken Block consistently knew how to impress his viewers with new thrills every year. 

Ken did his last Gymkhana in 2019, but in recent years he has done a new series called “Climbkhana” where he drives up dangerous mountain sides. Along with featuring in other stunts with his good friend and fellow badass, Travis Pastrana. When Block passed away, many people were sending prayers and leaving messages on social media for Pastrana, they have been close friends for over 20 years. Luckily for fans, Travis Pastrana will keep the insane antics alive, and do it in honor of Ken. 

The motorsports world will forever be impacted by the passing of Ken Block, he was someone who could brighten your day whether it was through a screen or in real life. His videos will continue to be watched by millions of people, and inspire children and adults to find fun in their lives. To quote Ken, “I try to inspire people to be creative and live a fun life… and don’t be an asshole.”

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