4 Jan 2023

Race driver Ken Block dies in snowmobile accident

5:06 am on 4 January 2023

The world of motorsport paid tribute to American Ken Block, the professional rally driver whose daring stunts made him an internet sensation, after his death aged 55 in a snowmobile accident.

Ken Block from the USA with his co-driver Alessandro Gelsomino in their Ford Fiesta tackle the Super Special Stage in the Otago Rally in 2015.

Ken Block competing in Rally Otago 2015 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Block's Hoonigan Racing team confirmed his death in a statement on Instagram.

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

The accident occurred in Utah's Wasatch County and the Sheriff's Office said that Block was riding on a steep slope when the snowmobile upended and landed on top of him.

"He was pronounced deceased at the scene from injuries sustained in the accident," it said, adding that he was riding in a group but was alone when the accident occurred.

Block also competed in New Zealand in the New Zealand Rally Championship and the Rally of New Zealand.

Having begun his rallying career in 2005, Block was named Rookie of the Year in the Rally America Championship. He competed in the World Rally Championship and won several rallycross medals at the X Games.

The American co-founded sportswear company DC Shoes and produced the Gymkhana video series, which featured him driving on dangerous tracks and obstacle courses. The series racked up millions of views on YouTube.

He also featured on the BBC programme Top Gear, including a sequence drifting and performing tyre burnouts around London with actor Matt LeBlanc.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, a former rally driver and president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), said on Twitter that Block was "an inspiration for us all and a true gentleman of our sport."

Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula One world champion, said he was in shock.

"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," he said on Twitter.

Nine-times world rally champion Sebastien Loeb, currently competing on the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, posted a photograph with the words "RIP Legend".