‘There’s always next year. There’s always next year,’ we lie to ourselves when things don’t exactly go our way. Particularly in racing, you always think about the next season, how to improve, and how to overcome a setback. Sometimes you don’t make it to next year. Sometimes the dream dies with you.
Ken Block died on Monday in a snowmobiling accident. Block is survived by wife, Lucy, and their three children.
A co-founder of the DC Shoe company, Ken has always had salesmanship, showmanship, and marketing in his blood, and that is exactly what allowed him to race at the high level he did. Not only did Block enter several WRC events, but he has been a staple of American rallying for nearly twenty years. I’d wager Ken has sold more WRXs and Ford hot hatches than any dealership employee in the world. He had a flair to his racing that was kind of always a detriment to his success, if I’m honest, but it made him a fan favorite the world over. His Gymkhana YouTube series inspired a generation of car people, myself included. After a whole lifetime in the business world, he started racing at 36 years old, and rose to some incredible challenges. Ken was always sending it.
Block recently entered the Porsche fold after several years rallying around the world, most notably in Subarus and fast Fords. With his Ford-exclusive contract ended in 2021, he jumped into anything and everything he could get his hands on in across 2021 and 2022. He ran a vintage 911 prepared by Tuthill at the East Africa Safari Rally, finishing 19th overall. He ran a full WRC-spec Hyundai in the American Rally Association championship, where he placed second after some significant setbacks. He worked with Audi to develop a new electric Gymkhana car. And perhaps his biggest and most ambitious project was partnering with Mobil 1 and BBi Autosport to develop and run a Porsche-based unlimited car for an overall-win-attempt effort at the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.
While the so-called Hoonipigagus blew its engine and was forced to sit out of qualifying at the 100th running of the Pikes Peak back in June, Ken immediately jumped on Twitter to confirm his commitment to running the car again in 2023. We were truly looking forward to seeing what Ken could do in the pink-pig-aping bewinged 911. We’ll never get to see Ken race the Hoonipigasus again. We’ll never get to see him race anything again. Automotive enthusiasm, car culture, and history were in no small part shaped by this man, and he will absolutely be missed.
Our hearts and condolences go out to his family and friends, of which there were many.