It was a shocking way to start the year; Scrolling through Instagram and coming across dozen of R.I.P posts. Even as someone who had never met Ken Block directly, it was a hard thing to see someone who played such an integral part to the car community globally pass away unexpectedly.
While danger obviously comes with the territory of racing cars, performing stunts and being (overall) a bit of an adrenaline junkie, it was still very unexpected from a man who seemed to take safety very seriously.
With that said, it's only fair to look back at the influence Ken Block had on car enthusiasts and some of the iconic cars he had while doing so.
Worldwide, Ken Block wasn't a huge name until around about 2008 when a simple video of him practicing some rally moves on a (nearly) abandoned airfield in a black and blue Subaru WRX.
A nearly stock looking boxer/bruiser combo, it was amazing to see a car that so closely resembled a road car doing stunts that looked out of this world.
A seemingly simple cut together practice with the DC shoes logo (a company that Ken Block started) slapped on which essentially broke the internet, gaining over 16M views and becoming a massively successful marketing tool for both Subaru and DC shoes.
Because of it's success, it quickly became a recurring feature and the cars quickly evolved from road/rally cars to scratch built cars showcasing brands like Subaru, Ford, Audi and Porsche.
The most infamous of which is probably the Hoonicorn, a shell of a 1965 Ford Mustang that was originally mated to a custom fabricated tube chassis and an 850hp Ford V8. Which eventually became a 1400hp turbocharged V8 and a twin-turbo spinoff called the Hoonitruck (a 1977 Ford F150).
Both of these where brilliant marketing tools for Hoonigan, Monster Energy, Toyo Tyres and, most importantly Ford with both being used to showcase the pieces of every sponsors technology (including the EcoBoost V6 in the Hoonitruck).
In more recent years, the story has become much more about the cars, with each new vehicle being unveiled as a spectacle to the public with release parties and full build breakdowns that talk about the whole process including the livery, the engineering and (always) the involvement of the sponsors.
The most recent few, the Hoonitron, the Family Huckster and the Hoonipigasus go to show just how much of an impact Ken Block had in the Automotive world and how good he was as a brand ambassador and not just a driver.
This is probably the most important thing that Ken Block did for the car community as a whole. By being a seemingly genuine guy, a shrewd businessman and a incredible showman and driver, he was able to create cars that brands would have never greenlit internally, built by incredible builders and covered in one off art buy some truly special people.
In creating a series of performances that have since included show stopping names like Travis Pastrana, hopefully it's an influence that won't leave us soon.
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