American motorsport legend and YouTube star Ken Block has died in a snowmobile accident in Utah at the age of 55.
A competitive rally driver in series such as Rally America and Global Rallycross, he earned wide renown later in life for his “Gymkhana” video series on YouTube.
The 10-part series, in which he performed daring racing feats, earned him nearly two million subscribers.
Block also co-founded the skate-wear clothing brand DC Shoes.
Hoonigan Industries, another clothing company he owned, confirmed its founder’s passing in a statement on Instagram on Monday.
“Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed.”
Block was riding a snowmobile up a steep slope in Wasatch County, Utah, when the vehicle upended, landing on top of him, the local sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.
He was pronounced dead at the scene from the injuries he sustained.
The news of his death emerged a day after US actor Jeremy Renner sustained serious injuries while using a snow plough to clear snow outside his home in Nevada.
The sheriff’s office in Utah said that Block had been riding with a group but was alone when the crash occurred.
A competitive rally driver since 2005, Block was Rally America’s Rookie of the Year in his first season and went on to win rallycross medals at the X Games and podium finishes at the World Rallycross Championship.
He also competed in other actions sports, including motocross, skateboarding and snowboarding.
But Block found a second wind on YouTube, where millions watched him navigate dangerous tracks and obstacle courses in a range of vehicles.
The American Rally Association said it was “gutted” at the news of Block’s passing.
“He was a massive influence on everything he touched, including the global world of rallying,” it said in a statement on Facebook.
Fellow racers also paid tribute to Block, with former British Formula One world champion Jenson Button calling him “a talent that did so much for our sport”.
British former rally driver Malcolm Wilson told BBC Radio 5 that Block was an “infectious character” who helped bring the sport of rally racing to a global audience, especially through his social media videos.
“What he did with cars, the stunts that he did were just truly amazing,” Wilson said.
Nascar Xfinity Series driver Ryan Vargas said watching Block’s videos “shaped my personality and interest in cars”.
“Ken was a legend in his ability to take a vision and make it a reality. He created an industry,” Steve Arpin, Block’s teammate in the Nitro RallyCross series, told ESPN. “But if you were lucky enough to know him, that’s where the best parts of Ken surfaced. He treated his friends like gold and would create opportunities for whoever wanted to put in the work. He was everything this world needs more of, and just happened to do a lot of really cool stuff on the side.”
An avid action sports enthusiast, Block was an ambassador for the industry and a family man who, in 2022, raced the American Rally Association Championship alongside his wife, Lucy, and their 16-year-old daughter, Lia.
“This year, Ken was so happy. At the races, he was happy to be racing with Lucy and to have his daughter racing and to have his kids at most of the races,” action sports icon Travis Pastrana told ESPN. “Few people get to the point in their lives where everything comes together, and to have it all taken away like this is devastating.”
Block is survived by his wife, Lucy, and three children.
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