Ken Block 1967 - 2023
It is with a heavy heart we have to write this blog post, one we did not want to be writing. But tragically on the 2nd of January 2023 motorsport, petrolheads and the world lost one of the brightest burning stars in Ken Block. Ken revolutionised the art of Gymkhana while being a professional rally driver and quickly became a personality to be reckoned appearing across the globe on TV shows and YouTube channels he quickly became a lot of peoples gateway into the petrolhead world and for that we owe him a great debt of gratitude.
We have decided to compile 5 moments which for us stood out as Ken at his finest whether this be entertaining us or showing off his incredible driving skills.
The first Gymkhana was the first time the internet was truly graced with the art of well driving around flamboyantly, and my god is it good! Still at his Subaru Rally team he set out in an 06 Impreza equipped with 530 WHP and a fresh set of tyres, which urr didn't stay fresh for long. It was relatively simple in that he was skidding around an abandoned airfield in and out of warehouses through narrow obstacles in a true dance between man and machine, this is the most raw Gymkhana before huge production value was added but that is what gives it a lot of its charm, it is man and machine just having fun and set the stage for one of the greatest motoring youtube series ever.
I think Gymkhana 4 the Hollywood megamercial is my personal favourite now maybe it's because I remember the age I first was when I watched it trying to recreate the stunts on my Xbox. Or maybe it was that iconic switch to the monster energy Ford Fiesta. Equipped with humour and a true production value ready for the big screen which did just give this fantastic over the top feeling like you are watching a comedic, exciting action movie. The unpredictability is what also made this one great, by this point we were roughly aware of the idea of driving a car around but to throw in a storyline mixed with some great movie style cameos and of course unexpected Segway riding gorillas. The new camera angles really made a sense of the speed and using the movie sets adds a real element to the videos. For me this is my favourite for its sheer lunacy, I mean there's a jetpacking Segway gorilla, what more could you want?
I was introduced to ken block when he took James May of top gear on a trip around an airfield. Now being from the UK I hadn't really heard of the gymkhanas or Ken Block at this point something I am ashamed of. But I was immediately captivated when that Subaru steamed up on screen skidding around behind captain slow. Ken's driving and unpredictability of what is even happening combined with James's comedic commentary and reactions make this just a truly great bit of TV and a great introduction to the main stream world of just how great Ken was. Accompanied by big jumps, aircraft and even a moto cross bike this truly showed the world how much fun Ken was.
2014 Rally Cross Season
Ken shone in the world Rallycross championship which allowed him to exhibit his skills for skillls finishing runner up in the 2014 rally cross season. But with Ken's status as a youtube star and his quickly rising iconic monster energy liveries he did so much to bring rallycross back in to the lime light. People were tuning in to watch the guy from youtube in a proper motorsport event, and of course, he shone! Coming in runners up in 2014 he set the track alight across tarmac gravel and snow alight. This was his chance to show his talent on a sort of more, professional level shall we say and this highlighted his true gift for car control and adaptability.
The Hoonigan Brand
The Hoonigan brand is now an iconic brand set in motoring culture (also worth noting his co founder role of DC Shoes). Everything the brand stood for oozed true passion setting the challenge for harder stunts and faster cars and generally living life to the max. They launched the Hoonigan racing division competing in the American Rally Association currently but they have raced in the World Rally Championship and the FIA World Rallycross championship. The frequency in which we see the Hoonigan sticker on the back of petrolheads cars driving down the roads really begins to show the impact Kens business ventures have had on the culture as well as his driving.
Ken will be truly missed his untimely death came as a sad shock to all. We hope this little run down might just introduce some people in to truly how great a person he was. I never met him in person but I have only ever heard great things about how down to earth and just how much of a genuine person he was.