Ken Block: James May remembers ‘hilarious days out’ with rally driver killed in snowmobile tragedy

Matt LeBlanc in a Ford Mustang in London with rally driver Ken Block (Hoonigan Racing/Ron Zaras/PA) (PA Media)
Matt LeBlanc in a Ford Mustang in London with rally driver Ken Block (Hoonigan Racing/Ron Zaras/PA) (PA Media)

Former Top Gear presenter James May has remembered his “hilarious days out” with American rally driver Ken Block who died in a snowmobile accident at the age of 55.

Block competed in the World Rally Championship and was named Rally America Rookie of the Year in 2005.

“It’s with our deepest regrets that we can confirm that Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident today,” Block’s team Hoonigan Racing said in an Instagram post.

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

May was among the famous faces paying tribute to the pro driver on social media on Tuesday, alongside the official Top Gear Twitter page which described Block as an “all-round hero”.

“RIP Ken Block, with thanks for some hilarious days out. Here’s the airfield drifting piece from years back,” May tweeted.

Meanwhile, the president of Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Mohammed Ben Sulayem, said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Ken Block. An inspiration for us all and a true gentleman of our sport.

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“The @FIA’s thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time. RIP @kblock43.”

Tanner Foust, who hosted the US version of Top Gear, wrote: “What an incredible person to learn from, battle with and to admire over the last two decades. Ken’s influence on the automotive world cannot be quantified.

“In addition to pioneering a roadmap for the rest of us to follow in the marketing of motorsport — Ken Block was, above all else, a devoted family man. My heart and prayers go out to Lucy and the kids.”

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Californian-born Block was a successful businessman, having co-founded the sportswear company DC Shoes before shifting his focus to Hoonigan Industries, a clothing brand for auto enthusiasts.

Block was also a YouTube star known for posting daring stunts behind the wheel.

He was introduced to a mainstream British television audience in 2016 when he appeared in an episode of BBC’s Top Gear driving around London with actor and host Matt LeBlanc.

Block finished second overall in Rally America three times – in 2006, 2008 and 2013 – and competed in the World Rally Championship between 2007 and 2018.

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“The #WRC family extends its sympathies to the family and friends of motorsport icon Ken Block,” the WRC-FIA World Rally Championship posted on its official Twitter account.

Block died near Woodland, Utah, with the Sheriff’s Office in Wasatch County saying he 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 in a statement.

The Sheriff’s Office added that Block was riding in a group but was alone when the accident occurred.