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Ken Block, champion pro rally driver and social media icon, dies at 55

Block died Monday in a snowmobile accident near his Park City, Utah, home at age 55.
Ken Block, shown during WRC Mexico in 2013 in Leon, Mexico, died Monday in a snowmobile accident near his Park City, Utah, home at age 55.
(Massimo Bettiol / Getty Images)
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Most of Ken Block’s social media messages to his nearly 2 million YouTube subscribers and half a million Twitter followers touted the “Go Fast Risk Every Thang” mantra that enabled him to become the world’s most famous rally car racer and ambassador for the sport.

But his last Twitter post was as a proud father, touting “The 4th and final episode of my 16-year-old daughter Lia buying, tearing down, rebuilding and now driving her ‘85 Audi Ur Quattro ... .” Block urged followers to tune in to YouTube on Tuesday morning.

Instead, fans of the action sports giant and his remarkably successful automotive lifestyle brand Hoonigan Industries were shocked by the news that Block died Monday in a snowmobile accident near his Park City, Utah, home at age 55.

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“Mr. Block was riding with a group but was alone when the accident occurred,” according to a statement from the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office. “The State Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the official cause of death. We are saddened to hear of the loss of Kenneth and our hearts are with his family and friends so deeply affected.”

Block, who was born in Long Beach, was riding down a steep slope at about 2 p.m. “when the snowmobile upended, landing on top of him,” the Sheriff’s Office said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon,” the Compton-based Hoonigan said in a statement. “And most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed.”

After selling DC Shoes, the Huntington Beach-based skateboard brand he co-founded 30 years ago, Block quickly established himself as one of the most visible faces in motorsports. He was a five-time X Games medalist in RallyCross, was Rally America rookie of the year in 2005, and finished second overall three times. He also was the first American to drive in the World Rally Championship.

Block began posting Gymkhana videos of himself stunt driving and interacting with his environment to YouTube in 2008, and they became wildly popular. His Hoonigan channel has attracted more than 1 billion views.

“I grew up, no matter what I did, trying to have as much fun as I possibly could,” Block told Road & Track in 2014. “When I grew up skateboarding, I didn’t compete in skateboarding, I just went out and had fun. Well, it’s the opposite with racecar driving. The only time I see my car is when we’re racing or testing for racing. The fun time is that time in the race.”

Last year he raced the American Rally Assn. Championship alongside his wife, Lucy, and Lia, one of the Blocks’ three children.

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Block produced a nearly hourlong video that chronicled his title chase, touting it by saying: “GO FAST RISK EVERY THANG. This is the mantra that we often have to use when racing rally. Sometimes it leads to champagne ceremonies, sometimes to crashed cars. In the 2022 American Rally Association season, it often led to both. While there were many wins and successes throughout the season, there was also mistakes and setbacks. So, we had to go fast and risk everything to chase that title right to the end — and this is the behind-the-scenes story of how that all went.”

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