The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Ken Block


Larry Chen, who photographed Block and his family for more than a decade, was perched at the “next turn” and took the shot in 2016

Lan Huynh, Staff Writer

“There’s a point, 7000 RPM where everything fades. The machine becomes weightless. Just disappears. All that’s left is a body moving through space and time. 7000 RPM, that’s where you meet it you feel it coming. Creeps up on you, close in your ear it asks you a question, the only question that matters. Who are you?”

These dramatic words from Carroll Shelby, a legendary American automotive designer, exemplify the extraordinary life of Ken Block.

At the start of the new year, the world lost Block, a family man and legend of rally racing with the Hoonigan Racing Division. Rally racing – to provide an oversimplified definition – is a timed-based race using a “time attack” built car; and, unlike most conventional races where positions and laps decide winners, rally races are decided by the completion of racing stages in the shortest cumulative time.

You may be familiar with Formula 1 or NASCAR racing, two types that are perfect examples of racing where position and lap time matter. If you know these racing leagues, the names Lewis Hamilton and Dale Earnhardt might sound familiar, as they are the Ken Blocks of their respective leagues.

Block was co-founder of DC Shoes, a company that made skateboard-tailored shoes. He also co-founded Hoonigan racing, something he did because he felt that the traditional “American Racing” like the Indy 500 or the Daytona 500, a circular circuit race, was not his style. Block began his racing career by training with O’Neil Rally School at the age of 37 after seeing a good friend enter the world of Rally racing, reported Evan Neiswanger in an interview with Block for Hotcars.

Block began his motorsports career in 2005, taking part in the National Rally Championship of America. He established himself fast, taking home the League Champion title in 2005, 2007, and 2008. He made his World Rally Championship debut in 2010 while racing for the Monster World Rally Team, according to

But Block didn’t really become well-known until the debut of his first Gymkhana video in 2008. Gymkhana is a viral video series that changed automotive filmmaking forever. The video series started as a simple way for Block to record himself to hone his rally driving skills. In the 2008 race, Block made a name for himself when he performed a drifting maneuver, where the driver of a car intentionally steers too much, causing the car’s rear tires, or sometimes all the tires, to lose their grip on the road and pull acrobatics in a potent Ford Fiesta. This was a showing of Block’s skills in being able to control a car under a pressuring situation.

Despite his success in only making Gymkhana videos, Block was committed to pushing the limits of what is possible in motorsports. He continued to compete in rally events around the world and was always looking for new ways to innovate and entertain in his Gymkhana videos. With his unique blend of driving skills, business acumen, and entrepreneurial spirit, Block became a true icon in the world of motorsports.

With Block’s passing, many in the motorsports world have wondered if there will be someone else to step up and fill his dynamic seat behind the wheel. One possibility is Block’s eldest daughter, Lia Block, a young driver who has shown promise as she learned much of her driving skills from her father.

Another name that has been mentioned as a potential successor to Block is Travis Pastrana. Like Block, Pastrana is a multi-talented motorsports star, known for his rally racing, motocross, and freestyle motocross skills. He has won multiple championships in each of these sports and has also made a name for himself as a daredevil and stunt performer. Pastrana has also been a friend and teammate of Block’s and has even made an appearance in one of the Gymkhana videos. With his combination of driving skills and showmanship, Pastrana is a natural fit to continue the legacy of Ken Block.