Ken Block

Rally driver and YouTube star Ken Block dies in snowmobile accident

Block is survived by his wife Lucy and their three children

American rally and stunt driver Ken Block has died in a snowmobile accident at the age of 55.

Block, who rose to fame through his ‘gymkhana’ videos on YouTube, co-founded the DC skatewear Shoes brand before getting started in rallying. His death was confirmed by rally team turned car culture company Hoonigan, which Block also co-founded.

“It’s with our deepest regrets that we can confirm that Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident today,” read a statement from Hoonigan. “Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And most importantly, a father and a husband. He will be incredibly missed.”

According to Wasatch County police in Block’s home state of Utah, the rally star was killed when his snowmobile “upended” and landed on top of him on Monday afternoon (January 2). Although Block was riding as part of a group, the police said he was alone at the time of the incident, which happened on a steep slope near Mill Hollow reservoir, roughly 25 miles south-east of the Park City ski resort.

The police said Block was pronounced dead at the scene “from injuries sustained in the accident,” although the State Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the official cause of death.

Former F1 World Champion Jenson Button tweeted to describe his “shock” at Block’s passing, saying the “sport lost one of the best.”

Meanwhile the American Rally Association said: “We are gutted to hear the news of the passing of rally icon Ken Block. He was a massive influence on everything he touched, including the global world of rallying. His stewardship within the ARA these past few years was invaluable and he will be forever missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Block family and everyone at Hoonigan.”

Watch Ken Block Gymkhana 10: The ultimate tyre-slaying tour

A statement from the World Rally Championship described Block as “a true visionary with a passion for all things extreme, [who] lived a dream that so many people across the world can only aspire to.”

Block, who had ties with Ford and Audi, is survived by his wife Lucy and their three children. His company, Hoonigan, asked fans and media to “respect the family’s privacy” while they grieve.

The 55-year-old had recently announced a tie-up with Audi, which saw block sliding the Hoonitron, a pure-electric tribute to the fabled Quattro rally car, around closed roads in Las Vegas.

Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 and RS 002

The move to Audi came after an 11-year relationship with Ford, with which Block had created numerous moments of magic both on the internet and television. Notable stunts included giving then-Top Gear presenter James May a passenger ride around an airfield – a ride that included a jump synchronised with motocross rider Ricky Carmichael and a Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

After Jeremy Clarkson’s departure from Top Gear, which saw The Sunday Times writer and his co-presenters, James May and Richard Hammond, set up a new car show on Amazon Prime, Block returned to Top Gear after May followed co-presenters Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond to Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour, although the American sparked controversy by drifting a modified Ford Mustang around the Cenotaph in central London.

Ken Block

Block’s rally career included podium finishes in the X Games and at some rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. He also raced in several other rally series, including the FIA World Rally Championship and the Rally America Championship, as well as the European Rallycross Championship.

His driving skill and online success attracted numerous commercial opportunities, with Block appearing in several racing video games – not least the Dirt Rally series. Block also had tie-ups with mobile drag racing game CSR Racing 2 and the Hoonigan cars were used in the Forza Horizon racing games.

Ken Block

Outside of rallying, Block competed in other extreme sports, including motocross, skateboarding and snowboarding.

The news of Block’s passing comes just days after another snow-related accident involving American actor Jeremy Renner. The Avengers star was seriously injured while clearing snow outside his home in Nevada and was airlifted to hospital in critical condition.

Renner has been through two successful surgeries to treat his “blunt chest trauma and orthopaedic injuries” but is still in a “critical but stable condition”, according to his publicist.

Both accidents come at a time when severe winter storms have battered the USA, with dozens of reported fatalities.

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