Many people had the privilege to see Block in action in Australia and New Zealand, doing his magic behind the wheel of one of our 800 horsepower Ford Falcon V8 Supercars alongside one of his mad 650 horsepower Ford Fiestas some years back.
To watch Ken Block in action was just magical: the things he could do with cars with pinpoint accuracy, the incredible modifications he made to cars and the excitement he generated about cars appealed to millions of enthusiasts all over the world.
As auto expert Stephen Ottley outlined in a recent Torquecafe.com article, aside from his amazing driving and rally racing skills, Block managed to redefine car culture at a time when people, especially younger people, were drifting away from cars.
Block also managed to change the definition of the word “Hoon”. He even called himself a Hoonigan—and created a global brand around that exact word. This changed its context from the negative to a major positive, aligning performance car driving with absolute skill rather than just doing burnouts or racing in a straight line for a few seconds.
He also changed the way young people look at cars. Block proved that this generation is just as interested in cars, if not more interested, than every generation before them.
It was all about achieving cut-through to make the new generation pay attention and be excited about cars. Block did this by speaking to them where they live—on smartphones and computers. He made cars cool on the internet and in computer games. He made cars cool by doing fun stuff with them on YouTube rather than just focusing on specifications and statistics.
Block drove these cars with flair and total skill, really showing what these cars could do. This made his fans love him and his cars even more. He introduced a whole new generation of car enthusiasts, and more importantly customers, to the global auto industry and the evergrowing high-performance aftermarket parts and tuner industries around the world.
Our industry needs more people to follow the brilliant trails that Ken Block has blazed. People who are always well-presented, respectful and good fun—with the unique ability to talk to new generations in the exact language they best understand.