Rally drivers, teams and officials across all motorsports on Tuesday condoled the demise of legendary American racing star and YouTuber Ken Block barely a year after his debut at last year’s belated East African Safari Classic Rally in which he finished 19th overall following a navigator error.
The American pro rally driver- who later in his colorful career became an internet sensation with his daring stunts behind the whee,- died aged 55 after a snowmobile accident, his team Hoonigan Racing confirmed.
Block had always developed a penchant for racing the world-famous Kenyan Safari terrain and the opportunity presented itself when he drove a Turthill Porsche at the biennial Safari Classic’s 10th edion.
Navigated by Alex Gelsomino, Block clocked 02:35:52.7 hours to take Day One overnight lead ahead of Kris Rosenberger and partner Nicola Bleicher also in a Porsche 911 timed 02:36:44.1.
But little did Kenyan fans know that they were bidding farewell to a man who finally fulfilled his dream on Kenyan soil.
KNRC and Classic driver Raaji Bharij wrote on his Facebook news feed of his encounter with Block in Kenya: “Rest in peace, you’re an absolute legend. We will all.of course remember the gymkhana videos and the entertainment you gave us… but some of us were lucky to meet you, and race with you and what we will all remember is how down to earth and friendly you were and at heart someone that just loved anything with an engine strapped to it. Go well dude.”
Block was a race driver for Rally America and Global Rallycross, and 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.”
The East African Safari Classic office in Nairobi led by its Chairman Joey Ghose condoled with the family of the American legend: “It is with great sadness we learnt of the demise of Ken Block. It was an honour and joy to have him compete in the East African Safari Classic Rally and we were looking forward to his return this year. We are sending our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the American star, as well as the entire team that has worked with him.”
Block finished the Safari Classic and here is what’s he wote on his Facebook page last year after his experience in Kenya: “Nine days, 8 stage wins (out of 22), and almost 18 hours of racing on stages (that’s more than the entire US rally championship all combined!), and Alex Gelsomino and I have finished our first-ever East African Safari Classic Rally! From the vast competitive distance, to the unusual race stage obstacles (giraffes, camels, motorcycles, zebras, elephants, trucks, etc), to the beautiful Kenyan countryside views, to the challenging stages – this has been an absolutely incredible race and experience. While we didn’t get the outcome we hoped for (6 punctures and a mistake by my co-driver cost us a lot of time and penalties), the experience was one I will never forget.”- Advertisement -