Ken Block will be remembered as a “visionary”, a "true legend” and an “inspiration" as the motorsport world paid tribute to the rally star following his tragic death.
Block, famous for becoming a YouTube sensation through his Gymkhana stunt videos, which led to career in rallying and Rallycross, succumbed to injuries after a snowmobile crash in Utah on Monday.
The 55-year-old’s passing has triggered an enormous outpouring of tributes from across the motorsport fraternity.
Eight-time world rally champion Sebastien Ogier competed alongside Block when the American made sporadic appearances in the World Rally Championship from 2007-2018, recording a best result of seventh at Rally Mexico in 2013.
The WRC legend posted on social media: “Such sad news. Ken was a visionary, so passionate and inspiring.
“He knew like no other to combine motorsport and a big show. He lived his life to the fullest and I’ll never forget his smile and laugh.”
Fellow WRC legend Sebastien Loeb, currently competing in the Dakar Rally, simply posted “RIP Legend”, while many of his rally rivals joined the Frenchman in describing Block as a “legend”.
“Our sport lost a great man today. Ken was a visionary and a true legend who has inspired so many of us. Rest In Peace, Ken,” wrote 2019 WRC champion Ott Tanak.
While former M-Sport WRC driver Gus Greensmith believes Block’s exploits in shining a light on rallying will be felt for generations to come.
“The impact this man has left on the motorsport world will resonate for generations to come," said Greensmith. “A visionary and a pioneer of all things Hooning, there really was only one Ken Block. My deepest sympathies to the Block family.”
The M-Sport team, which Block drove for in 2018, added: "Ken’s work and passion for the sport touched the imaginations of hundreds of millions around the world. He was a creative driving force that helped to redefine our sport.”
The WRC also posted heartfelt tribute thanking Block for “inspiring millions” through his passion for motorsport.
“A true visionary with a passion for all things extreme, the 55-year-old lived a dream that so many people across the world can only aspire to. In doing so, he inspired millions to follow their passions for motorsport,” read a tribute from the WRC.
During his career Block had become synonymous with the Ford brand, with the blue oval often represented in Gymkhana videos, while the Focus and Fiesta rally cars were Block’s weapons of choice in the WRC.
“We lost a legend today in Ken Block,” read a statement from Ford Motor Company posted by its CEO Jim Farley.
“Ken Inspired generations of automotive enthusiasts, and in the process he came to inspire us all at Ford Motor Company as well. He was truly one of a kind - an innovator, a talented driver and a marketing genius. Ken personified the joy of driving, drifting and racing. He had a boundless imagination for creating special cars and special moments.
“Our hearts go out to his family during this time, and we mourn his loss together with the community he fed with his visor and spirit.”
More recently Block’s rallying career took him to Hyundai machinery having driven a i20 N WRC to runner-up in last year’s ARA National Rally Championship in the US.
“As an enthusiast and entertainer, he captured the imaginations of multiple generations, taking racing and rallying to new audiences, always with a smile and approachable regardless of his mega star status. He will be missed by us all," read a statement from Hyundai Motorsport.
Block left a lasting impression not only on the rally world, with his skills widely appreciated by all corners of the motorsport family.
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, a former rally driver in his own right, labelled Block “true gentleman of our sport”.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Ken Block,” Ben Sulayem posted. “An inspiration for us and a true gentleman of our sport.
“The FIA’s thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time. RIP Ken Block.”
2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button and current Alpine F1 star Esteban Ocon also paid tribute to a “unique” talent.
“In shock at the passing of Ken Block,” Button posted. “Such a talent that did so much for our sport. He was a true visionary with his own unique style and infectious smile.
“Our sport lost one of the best today but more importantly a great man.”
Ocon added: “We lost a legend of our sport today. Thank you Ken for sharing racing passion the way you did.”
While IndyCar driver JR Hildebrand honoured Block by labelling his fellow countryman as the “most inspiring thinker and doer of a generation” in motorsport.
“Ken showed us that the most incredible things happen when you do it your own way,” said Hildebrand. “For me, the most inspiring thinker and doer of this generation across automotive, motorsport and media. Iconoclastic in every sense.
“Today we lost a legend. Rest easy, KB43.”