Ken Block – The HooniganPosted On: November 1, 2012 By : AutoLife Team
With just a few points to his credit in the World Rally Championship, it’s obvious that you might have never spotted Ken Block showering himself with a bottle of champagne in the WRC post-race victory sessions. But chances are high that you have seen the professional rally driver in his adrenaline pumping and insane Gymkhana internet videos; crazily drifting his Monster and DC Shoe liveried car through various obstacles around studios, ports, autodromes, airfields, streets, etc and performing a bevy of impressive technical moves all along the way.
Born on November 21, 1967 in Long Beach, California, Ken Block is a professional rally driver currently associated with the Monster World Rally Team. A car enthusiast from a young age, Block was already jumping and sliding his parents’ cars as soon as he could drive. From an early age, he developed a keen interest in rallying and began following national events. However, it was in the world of extreme sports where Block established a foothold. He first forged a long and reputable career as an accomplished skateboarder, snowboarder and motocross rider. In 1993, Block then co-founded one of action sports most successful companies, DC Shoes. Ten years later DC Shoes was sold and while Block is still associated with the brand as their Chief Brand Officer, he finally had the time and the resources to indulge in his passion for rallying.
Ken Block’s rally career began in 2005 after he entered his first Rally America National Championship. His skill and car control became quickly apparent and Block aptly nabbed Rookie of the Year in the Rally America Championship. Since then, Block has continued to race in the series with numerous podium appearances and healthy wins each season. In addition to this, Block also boasts of quite a few X-Games medals. He competed in the first ever X-Games rally event at the 2006 X-Games XII and Block ended up finishing third. Block continued to participate in the X-Games rally event and placed second in the X-Games XIII and tied for third place finish with Dave Mirra in the X-Games XIV rally competition. On July 1, 2012, Block again took the silver medal for Rallycross at X-Games XVIII behind Sébastien Loeb. It was in the 2007 season that Block made his WRC debut, when he entered in a few rounds of the World Rally Championship in Rally Mexico and Rally New Zealand. On January 6, 2010 the Monster World Rally Team announced Block as their regular driver for the World Rally Championship in the Monster/Ford Racing Focus RS WRC 08. In doing so, Block became the first ever American driver to campaign for the World Rally Championship and at the Rally de Espana he earned his maiden 2 points in WRC. He has shown incredible speeds at various world rally stages, but his wild carefree attitude to go flat out at every spot and jumps has marred his campaign with plenty of crashes.
No doubt, he has achieved global recognition for his performances in the X Games, WRC, and other rally championships. But it is his promotional endeavours that make him not just everyone’s favourite shoe-salesman, but a viral internet sensation as well. Ask anyone where they’ve heard the Ken Block name and it’s likely to be from his viral Gymkhana videos. Block’s video series of hair-raising feats of precision Gymkhana driving on You Tube has achieved a cult following and the millions of views is a testament to the fact that when you think Gymkhana, you now think Ken Block. His other promotional efforts includes a record-setting 171-foot jump for an episode of Discovery Channel’s Stunt Junkies and a heart-thumping driving spot for the 2009 opening episode of UK’s Top Gear TV show, in which he took James May out for Gymkhana-style driving in his stunt course at Inyokern Airport. Ken Block also commissioned the creation of the world’s fastest snow cat called the STI TRAX, in the form of a modified Subaru STI. Block’s keen branding and marketing acumen has allowed him to achieve global fame through his wildly successful videos.
Ken Block might seem like a plain and simple personality in the world of rally motorsport, but nothing Ken Block does has ever been plain and simple. Today he is an icon in the action sports world and known for both his rally racing prowess and furious gymkhana driving skills. Though his career as a rally driver continues to follow an upward trajectory, Block is more popularly for his starring role as the stunt driver in his series of Gymkhana videos. Surprisingly, Block manages to find the time for his drifting antics balancing between his responsibilities as DC Chief Brand Officer and a professional rally car driving career.
PS: If you haven’t actually witnessed Ken Block’s drifting antics in his overly popular Gymkhana video series, then better put the magazine aside and YouTube for it immediately. Just words really cannot do justice to the insane capabilities of this creatively talented rally driver.