Ken Block, a sports marketing executive who took the wheel for himself and became an acclaimed pro rally driver and YouTube stuntman, died in a snowmobile accident on Monday. He was 55.
The company he co-founded, Hoonigan, and the sheriff’s office in Wasatch County, Utah, confirmed his death.
Mr. Block, who lived in Park City, Utah, was riding a snowmobile down a steep slope at about 2 p.m. on Monday “when the snowmobile upended, landing on top of him,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
He was riding with a group but was alone when the accident happened, the sheriff’s office said. The state medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of death.
“Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon,” Hoonigan said in a statement. “And most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed.”
Mr. Block co-founded DC Shoes, an action sports brand, in 1994, but sold the company in 2004 and transitioned to driving, quickly establishing himself as one of the faces of the sport. He was the Rally America rookie of the year in 2005, and finished second overall in 2006, 2008 and 2013. He also won five medals at the X Games between 2006 and 2013, and was the first American to drive in the World Rally Championship.
But it was his series of “Gymkhana” videos on YouTube that earned him the most notice, executing daring stunts that did not require a love of motor sports to find riveting. One 2012 video, which has been viewed more than 110 million times, showed Mr. Block in a shut-down San Francisco, drifting between trolley cars and catching air as he sped over its hilly crests in a 650-horsepower Ford Fiesta.
He co-founded Hoonigan, a new lifestyle brand, in 2011. (The company defines a Hoonigan as “a person who operates a motor vehicle in an aggressive and unorthodox manner, consisting of, but not limited to, drifting, burnouts, doughnuts as well as acts of automotive aeronautics.”)
The American Rally Association said in a statement that Mr. Block was “a massive influence on everything he touched, including the global world of rallying.”