Ken Block started racing at what many would consider an advanced age. The then-DC Shoes marketing executive went to a rally school at the age of 36 and immediately took to it.
By the next year he was racing, and his big break came a few years later. Nobody gave it to him, though. He created it. He released his first gymkhana video in 2008, and it soon went viral as car enthusiasts appreciated the insane car control on display. Corporations like that sort of guerrilla advertising and they flocked to him, giving him the money to race full time.
Block has since released seven more gymkhana videos and it appears that he is working on his ninth. He also races in the World Rallycross series, acts as a consultant for Ford Motor Company, and generally has a great time living life.
I recently had to opportunity to sit down for an interview with Block during the weekend of the G3PR World Rallycross race in Canada. I found him to be forthright, down to earth, and genuinely happy with his accomplishments. Check out the interview below. You’ll learn what makes this automotive hero tick.
How did you start playing around with cars?
I’ve been a fan of stage rally since I was quite young. Back in the ’70s and ’80s you were subject to whatever was on TV. I know I saw Pike’s Peak on TV. I saw the Audi quattros in the ’80s. I saw some stage rally.
In the magazines in the ’80s there was a lot of emphasis on the all-wheel-drive systems because they were developing it in rally racing and it eventually made it into cars. Then ’90s were the years of Collin McRae and Tommi Makinen.
I was never really that interested in American motorsports, mainly oval or drag racing. My brother did some drag racing but it just wasn’t something I was really interested in.
I also grew up riding dirt bikes, so I liked the cars that I could relate to because they jumped and slid in the dirt. I think that was the simple attraction for rally to me. I never thought that rally existed in the States, and in 2004 Travis Pastrana did a few rallies in the States. It just woke me up to the fact that I could actually race rally in the States.
In the middle of 2004 I did a rally school in New Hampshire called Team O’Neil just for fun, to try it out. I just fell in love with it and started racing in 2005 full time.