(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Youtube star Ken Block of Hoonigan Racing Division died on Monday, Jan. 2 due to a snowmobile accident.
Block was known for his Youtube videos and rally racing. The Hoonigan Youtube channel, featuring the Gymkhana videos, has garnered over 5 million subscribers.
Block first entered the world of rally racing and first competed in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) in 2005. He raced in the rally class with co-driver Alex Gelsomino. Block’s video of him climbing Pikes Peak in his 1965 Ford Mustang Hoonicorn RTR V2 has over 42 million views.
“Ken Block will be missed on Pikes Peak and around the world and will always be remembered for his throttle-to-the-floor drifting style, the way he welcomed racers to the Hoonigan family, and his enthusiastic engagement with every race fan,” shared Melissa Eickhoff, Executive Director of the PPIHC.
Block was supposed to compete in the PPIHC in 2022 but his pink 1966 Porsche BBI, “The Hoonipigasus,” dropped a valve and suffered “catastrophic engine failure” according to Motor1.com.
Tanner Foust, friend, and fellow rally racer to Block said, “I think it’s hard to quantify the impact Ken had on the automotive world. He was a maverick and a pioneer in a lot of ways. Besides the driving and the speed that he had in rally racing, and rally cross, he – off track – was a business maverick. He started DC Shoes in his garage, he started many companies from nothing and built them into multi-million dollar companies.”
According to Foust, Block changed the way car manufacturers and sponsors connect with a demographic could be done through generating content.
“It’s just the way that he attacked life. He really paved the way for drivers, in my opinion, to market themselves differently in motorsport… He showed racers that we have a different way to market ourselves and it wasn’t always about results on the track,” Foust said.
Block created new inroads to get into the world of racing with branding and adding value to potential sponsors Foust said.
“Seeing how someone like Ken recognizes the opportunity and grasps it and seizes it and turns it into the empire that he has, just with his sheer grit and energy and marketing genius and driving ability he created a brand that eclipses some of the biggest automotive brands in the world, and he did it out of thin air,” Foust said.
Foust talked about his friendship with Block as rival racers, calling him a “fierce competitor” and saying his “competition was pure.” He gave credit to Block for his and other rally racers’ careers as well as for getting rally racing into the X Games.
Foust said that a lot of people including himself were in shock at the loss of Block. “It’s hard to believe we’re even having this conversation. I think Ken was always in the process of doing big things and if you ever saw a concept or a marketing project or a launch of a video or product and imagined how big it could be, Ken would always take it and multiply it by 100.”
We always wanted what he had come up with. I think the whole industry waited to see each Gymkhana video come out or each Climbkhana up Pikes Peak video come out just to see what Ken had created and he awed us in that way. To imagine that energy in our industry is gone, that creative fire that produced so many amazing things and so many opportunities for a lot of people is gone – is really a tough pill to swallow.Tanner Foust
Foust noted that Block was an “incredibly devoted family man,” remarking on the hardest part of this loss. He was racing with his daughter and his wife to share his racing with them.
Block left a legacy of creativity, boldness, ingenuity, and love with those who knew him and his fans.