On January 2nd, 2023 a long shadow was cast on the snowboarding, skateboarding and motor sports world with the sudden passing of Ken Block while snowmobiling in Utah. A true iconoclast, Ken Block’s creativity, confidence, work ethic, ingenuity, athleticism and vision led him to leave an indelible mark on every industry and culture that he had passion for.
After founding 8-Ball clothing in 1991 Ken migrated to Summit County, Colorado where he immersed himself in snowboarding’s emerging new school jib scene. It was here that he drew inspiration from Steve Rocco and created snowboarding’s snarky sibling to Big Brother in Blunt Magazine. 8-Ball Clothing would morph into Droors Clothing which would transform again to simply be known as DC. From shoe’s to snowboards to all sorts of accouterments in between, DC would become ubiquitous in the late 90’s and 2000’s and would have a hand in everything from the advent of the mega ramp in skateboarding to Rob Dyrdek achieving MTV stardom.
There was perhaps no greater harbinger of Ken’s love of snowboarding than the private alpine oasis he created outside of Park City, Utah. The DC Mountain Lab was a culmination of Ken’s efforts and what he manifested was every rider's nirvana. The rope tow accessed Snowpark Technologies park on the property overshadowed the luxurious amenities afforded by the mansion and the lore of the compound itself almost eclipsed the legends who had gear lockers onsite, including Travis Parker, Eddie Wall, Devun Walsh, Kimmy Fasani, Travis Rice, Todd Richards and more. Frankly, for many–the keys to the Mountain Lab were a bigger perk than the diamond DC rings that adorned the hands of the biggest names in skate, surf, snow, BMX and moto.
In the mid 2000’s Ken sold DC in order to pursue rally car racing. Again, Ken’s ambition to upend the status quo took precedence and while he found success on the traditional rally circuit, achieving 16 Rally America victories and numerous WRC starts he knew that a few tweaks to the format would open the sport up to newer, larger audiences. The result of this initiative was RallyCross which would quickly be included in the X Games and provide Ken with a handful of X Games medals.
In 2007 DC was in the midst of filming for Mtn. Lab 1.5 when Ken, who was testing winter racing tires at the time, crossed paths with the team at Snowpark New Zealand. In classic Ken fashion he saw an opportunity to take his race tuned Subaru WRX onto the slopes and proceeded to turn the terrain park into a video game come to life. Once again Ken had turned his fantasy into reality.
During this last decade Ken once again upended the status quo when he decided to apply his marketing acumen, honed over two decades in snow and skate, towards motor sports. The genesis of Gymkhana was the idea of creating a video part with a car complete with openers and enders, but void of any filler. To date Gymkhana has garnered hundreds of millions of views as well as spawning a motor sports brand of its own for Ken with Hoonigan Racing.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ken’s wife Lucy and his 3 children. His inspiration will continue to be felt in countless ways by the millions upon millions of us who have enjoyed the fruits of, been entertained by and benefited from his ceaseless pursuit of his passions.