Rallying-Driver and YouTube star Ken Block dies in snowmobile accident

YouTube star Ken Block is killed in snowmobile accident: Pioneering American rally driver, 55, who shot Gymkhana videos watched by hundreds of millions, co-founded DC shoes and took part in controversial Top Gear stunt dies in Utah crash

  • Motorsport legend competed in series like Rally America and Global Rallycross 
  • He earned millions of new fans with popular ‘Gymkhana’ stunt series on YouTube 
  • Co-founded sportswear firm DC Shoes, popular with skaters and snowboarders
  • Introduced to UK audience in 2016 with a controversial appearance on Top Gear 

American rally driver and YouTuber Ken Block has died in a snowmobile accident in Utah aged 55. 

The motorsports legend competed in series such as Rally America and Global Rallycross, before earning legions of new fans with his ‘Gymkhana’ series on YouTube – which saw him pull off daring stunts behind the wheel. 

Block was introduced to a mainstream British television audience in 2016 when he appeared in an episode of BBC’s Top Gear driving around London with actor and host Matt LeBlanc. The appearance generated intense controversy due to a stunt where Block did ‘donuts’ in a car near the Cenotaph.

The father of three, hailed as a ‘visionary, a pioneer and an icon’, also co-founded the sportswear company DC Shoes before shifting his focus to Hoonigan Industries, a clothing brand for auto enthusiasts.   

Rally car driver Ken Block died in Utah on Monday. He shared a series of photos of himself snowmobiling in Idaho on December 23

The rally car driving champion, 55, was tragically killed in a snowmobile accident in Wasatch County, Utah

Block had been traveling up this steep slope at around 2pm on Monday when the snowmobile he was riding overturned and landed on top of him. The Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office posted this photo of the crash site

Block was travelling up a steep slope in Woodland, Utah at around 2pm on Monday when the snowmobile he was riding overturned and landed on top of him, police said. 

He had been riding with a group but was alone at the time. He died at the scene. 

Block is survived by his wife Lucy and three children, including his 16-year-old daughter Lia, who is also a driver and had competed for her father’s Hoonigan Racing team since the age of 11. 

They were with him in Utah at the time of the accident having spent the holiday together at a mountain lodge. 

Last night, Lucy posted a photo of her husband’s helmet which he had been wearing when he died next to a love heart emoji’.   

James May was among the famous faces paying tribute to Block today, with the former Top Gear presenter tweeting: ‘RIP Ken Block, with thanks for some hilarious days out. Here’s the airfield drifting piece from years back.’

Meanwhile, the  official Top Gear Twitter page described Block as an ‘all-round hero’. 

Block shared photos and video on Instagram on the day of his death. In this one, he spoke of his excitement at being about to ride one of the snowmobiles 

F1 champion Jenson Button and former Top Gear host James May  were among those paying tribute to Ken Block today 

Paddy McGuinness, who currently hosts the BBC motoring show alongside Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff and Chris Harris, shared a video of Block driving through an industrial landscape.

He said: ‘I’ve lost many hours watching the great Ken Block’s videos over the years. Legend. Hoonigan. RIP.’

The official Top Gear Twitter page described Block as an ‘all-round hero’. 

Meanwhile, F1 champion Jenson Button wrote: ‘In shock at the passing of Ken Block. Such a talent that did so much for our sport. He was a true visionary with his own unique style & infectious smile. 

‘Our sport lost one of the best today but more importantly a great man. Sending love & hugs to the Block family #ripKen.’ 

Tanner Foust, who hosted the US version of Top Gear, wrote: ‘What an incredible person to learn from, battle with and to admire over the last two decades. Ken’s influence on the automotive world cannot be quantified.

‘In addition to pioneering a roadmap for the rest of us to follow in the marketing of motorsport – Ken Block was, above all else, a devoted family man. My heart and prayers go out to Lucy and the kids.’   

Block is survived by his wife Lucy and three children, including his 16-year-old daughter Lia, who is also a driver. They were with him in Utah at the time

His wife Lucy posted a photo of her husband’s helmet which he had been wearing when he died next to a love heart emoji

Hoonigan Racing said on Instagram: ‘It’s with our deepest regrets that we can confirm that Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident today.

‘Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed.’   

Block shared photos and videos on Instagram earlier in the day including one in which he posted about his excitement that he was about to ride one of the snowmobiles.

In one Instagram Story on Monday, he posted ‘Hell yeah!’ as he approached a row of snowmobiles that had been parked up, ready to ride.

Hours before his death, he wrote: ‘It’s been DUMPING snow in Park City, Utah this week with more forecasted for the weekend, and we wouldn’t be able to make it out to the ranch without the @SkiDoo sleds and @KubotaUSA machinery to clear the way! Can’t wait to see how much more powder stacks up over the next few days.’ 

Block was introduced to a mainstream British television audience in 2016 when he appeared in an episode of BBC’s Top Gear driving around London with actor and host Matt LeBlanc

The appearance generated intense controversy due to a stunt where Block did ‘donuts’ in a car near the Cenotaph

Another scene from the show when Block and Le Blanc were driving down The Mall 

Last week, Block had been performing stunts in Idaho on a new and more powerful snowmobile. He even admitted how its power had taken him by surprise. 

‘It was my first day on my new ’23 Ski-Doo Summit X Turbo, and this thing rips! Lots of power up at high elevations, and wheelies all day! Epic early season powder, and an amazing first day. Wheelies, deep pow turns, and a lot of learning on this new sled – good times!’

Block finished second overall in Rally America three times – in 2006, 2008 and 2013 – and competed in the World Rally Championship between 2007 and 2018.

‘The #WRC family extends its sympathies to the family and friends of motorsport icon Ken Block,’ the WRC-FIA World Rally Championship posted on its official Twitter account.

In addition to his success in rally car racing where he finished on the podium dozens of times, Block was a lover of action sports and also competed in motocross, skateboarding, driving UTVs, competitive snowboarding, and snowmobiling.

He was a well-known figure on social media with 7.5 million followers on his Instagram and 2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. He also co-founded DC Shoes with business partner Damon Way in 1994.        

Block’s 2016 Top Gear appearance sparked a row after he was seen pulling ‘donuts’ near the Cenotaph on Whitehall, causing noise and large clouds of smoke. 

The scene, which cost BBC licence payers £100,000 to film, sparked outrage from MPs and military figures. 

Last week, Block posted photos of himself riding a new powerful Ski-Doo snowmobile

Block was a well-known figure in the rally car racing community and had also competed in motocross, skateboarding, and snowboarding

‘Epic early season powder, and an amazing first day on my new ’23 Ski-Doo Summit X Turbo. Wheelies, deep pow turns, and a lot of learning on this new sled – good times!’ Block wrote

Colonel Richard Kemp, a retired commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: ‘It beggars belief that they were ever allowed to film here. 

‘This is a sacred tribute to millions of people who have done far more for their country than [show hosts] Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc ever will.’ 

Host Chris Evans denied involvement in the scene and the BBC insisted the Cenotaph was never intended to appear in the final cut. 

Block later told the Sun his stunt car – dubbed The Hoonicorn – was kept a ‘respectable distance’ from the war memorial and blames the media for ‘blowing something up’. 

Evans announced he was stepping down from Top Gear months after the incident.  

Last night, Block’s team, Hoonigan, released a statement expressing their sadness at his passing. 

‘Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed.’  

‘It was my first day on my new ’23 Ski-Doo Summit X Turbo, and this thing rips!’ wrote Block 

Block posted video of himself performing stunts on the powerful snowmobile

In one portion of the video Block would be seen virtually hovering in the air on the machine

Block earned 16 victories in 60 Rally America events from 2005 to 2014 and won five medals in the X Games. 

He is also one of the few Americans who have earned points in the World Rally Championship. 

While his motorsports achievements contributed to his fame, his presence on social media helped him become a well-known figure. 

His Gymkhana video series, which features popular motorsports videos only further increased his fame. 

In the autumn, Block signed a deal with Audi to promote the company’s electric vehicles. 

The Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office said of Block: ‘He was pronounced deceased at the scene from injuries sustained in the accident.’   

The fast-paced video saw Block traveling at quite a rate through the snow

Block was traveling so fast at one stage that the rest of the snowmobile couldn’t be seen 

Block was a well-known figure in the rally car racing community and had also competed in motocross, skateboarding, and snowboarding

Block was one of few Americans who have earned points in the World Rally Championship


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