Ken Block is an American businessman, YouTube star and rally/rallycross driver whose global popularity significantly excels his racing results.
When talking about business, Block is a co-founder of the DC Shoes company back in 1994 and current co-owner of the Hoonigan Industries. When talking about YouTube, Ken Block is a global phenomenon with few hundred million viewers of his Gymkhana videos. When talking about racing, Block is a former World Rally Championship competitor with 23 starts between 2007 and 2014 and current rallycross driver in the World Rallycross Championship.
Action sports figure entered rallying in 2004
Ken Block was born on November 21, 1967, in Long Beach, California. In 1994, he was one of the co-founders of DC Shoes, a company specialized in footwear for action sports, including skateboarding and snowboarding. During the 1990s, Block was also involved in action sports. He started his rallying career in 2004, having an accident in the Rally of the Tall Pines in Canada.
He had a proper start of a career in 2005, entering the Rally America championship with the #43 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, prepared by Vermont Sports Car team. His navigator was Alex Gelsomino. Block finished the championship fourth overall and third in the Class N. Besides driving Subaru in the national rally championship, he participated at Gumball 3000 Rally in the DC Shoes-sponsored Subaru.
Two-time Rally America runner-up, WRC debut in 2007
Block improved his performances in 2006 Rally America season, scoring two overall wins to finish second in the championship, behind Travis Pastrana. During the year, he participated in the One Lap of America competition. He was also a guest on the Discovery Channel's Stunt Junkies show, jumping 171 feet (52 meters) with his Subaru rally car.
In 2007, Block and Gelsomino participated for the first time in the World Rally Championship. In March, they traveled to Mexico to compete in the Corona Rally Mexico, finishing 28th overall and 16th in N4 class. A few months later, they went to New Zealand and participated in the Rally New Zealand. Block also competed in the X Games XIII rally event, where he won a silver medal. In the 2007 Rally American championship, Block repeated two wins, finishing third in the points, behind Travis Pastrana and Andrew Pinker.
In 2008, Travis Pastrana was Rally America champion again, Ken Block finished second in the points for the second time in a career. He won three events but it wasn't enough to take the title. In August 2008, Block and Gelsomino returned to New Zealand, participating in the WRC event with Subaru Impreza STI N12. They were 13th in the PWRC classification.
First Gymkhana video was filmed in 2008 with Subaru Impreza
Ken Block's Gymkhana global phenomenon started in 2008
2008 was the milestone year for Ken Block's global popularity because his first Gymkhana video was launched in November. Millions of viewers across the world were wondering who is this 'lunatic' in the 530-hp Subaru Impreza. In 2009, the second Gymkhana video was launched and it became the most viral video of the year, helping the record sales of DC Shoes products.
Block's rallying career was still focused on the Rally America in 2009. He won two events and added two more podiums, but five DNFs cost him a lot, so he was fourth in the points.
Entering 2010 WRC season with Monster Rally Team
The season 2010 was the turning point in Block's career, as he switched his focus to the international rallying, being a first American who campaigned in the World Rally Championship. He formed a Monster World Rally Team to enter selected WRC rounds with Ford Focus RS WRC 08, prepared by M-Sport. He participated in seven WRC events, finishing best in the ninth place at Rally Catalunya in October and scoring his first WRC points.
In the 2010 Rally America championship, Block participated in six events, scoring a fifth consecutive victory at Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. After switching from Subaru to Ford, he had to try his new Ford Fiesta on the Gymkhana track, so he released the third video in September 2010.
Ken Block's crash at 2011 Rally Portugal
One more season in the WRC followed by a switch to the rallycross
For the 2011 WRC season, Monster World Rally Team had a new Ford Fiesta RS WRC. After finishing events in Sweden and Mexico, Block suffered a massive accident during the shakedown for Rally Portugal. He and Alex Gelsomino were taken to a hospital but luckily they were not badly injured. Later in the season, Block recorded two point-scoring results, finishing 8th at Rally de France Alsace and 9th at Wales Rally GB.
In 2011, Block participated in the last round of the Global Rallycross Championship. For 2012 GRC season, he entered a full season with Monster WRT's Ford Fiesta. In six events, he scored one podium to finish fifth in the points.
In February 2012, Block returned to the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, scoring his sixth win in this event. He added one more victory (Olympus Rally) to finish fourth in the points of the Rally America season. In the 2012 World Rally Championship, Monster WRT's #43 Ford Fiesta participated in three events (Mexico, New Zealand and Finland). He finished ninth both in Mexico and New Zealand.
Hoonigan Racing Division - a new name for Block's team
In 2013, Hoonigan Racing Division is created as a replacement for Monster WRT and Block was focused on the North American competitions – the Global Rallycross Championship and the Rally America championship.
He finished third in the GRC and second in the national rally championship. His only participation in the WRC was at 2013 Rally Mexico, where he finished seventh overall. It was his career-best result in the World Rally Championship.
2014 Global Rallycross Championship runner-up
In 2014, Block fully focused on the Global Rallycross Championship, trying to win the title with Ford Fiesta. He scored two wins and four more podiums, but Finnish driver Joni Wiman beat him for five points.
In the rallying, Block's only official competitions were Rally in the 100 Acre Wood (1st) and Rally Catalunya (12th). He also participated in two Italian rally events – Monza Rally Show and Memorial Bettega.
Three GRC wins in 2015 but only 7th-place finish
In 2015, the Global Rallycross Championship was expanded to twelve rounds and Block was the winner three times. His other results weren't so good, so he finished 7th in the points.
In the rallying, he participated in two events on the other side of the world, at New Zealand. He won the Rally of Whangarei and retired at Rally of Otago. In July 2015, he scored second place in the New England Forest Rally, the part of the Rally America championship.
Two seasons in the World Rallycross Championship
In 2016, Ken Block's only competition was the FIA World Rallycross Championship, together with Andreas Bakkerud as his teammate in the Hoonigan Racing Division's Ford Focus RS RX cars. The highlight of the season was Block's third place at Hockenheim's round. Later in the season, he reached Top 6 only once, at the French round, finishing only 14th in the final standings.
In 2017, Block scored no wins or podiums but ended the World RX season better than the year before, in the ninth place. He announced no return to the championship in 2018.
During 2016, two Gymkhana video were released. The playground for his Ford Fiesta in the 8th edition was Dubai while Gymkhana Nine brought him back to America, in the cockpit the Ford Focus RS RX, which he uses in the World Rallycross Championship.