The man responsible for the destruction of many tyres, Ken Block, has announced that he’s leaving the Ford fold after more than a decade.
Block, who rose to fame off the back of his innovative Gymkhana stunt driving clips, jumped ship to the Blue Oval from Subaru in 2010, collaborating on a variety of increasingly crazy projects along the way.
It started out innocently enough, with Block building a Fiesta WRC-based machine that could be switched between disciplines with a quick suspension change, before taking on the WRC itself with mixed results.
The foray with Ford then morphed into a tilt at the crazily competitive FIA World Rallycross Championship with a two-car Focus team, before Block pulled back from international competition in 2017.
Along the way there have been a brace of amazing Ford-badged projects pushed through Hoonigan, the media arm that Block – who parlayed a US$10,000 loan from his parents into DC Shoes, which sold for US$88 million – used to great effect to net more than half a billion video views over the last decade.
From a sweet Escort MkII to rare Escort Cosworths – one of which met a fiery end – customised Transits and a genuine RS200 Group B car, Block and his team also created bespoke beasts like the all-wheel-drive Hoonicorn Mustang and the 500kW Hoonitruck along the way.
Perhaps the first sign that the marriage was drawing to an end came when Ford Performance debuted its Mustang Mach E drift monster in 2020 not with Block at the helm, but with drifting ace Vaughn Gittin Jr in the starring role.
While Block did drive the 1000kW-plus electric concept, it was hard to shake the notion that he wasn’t Ford’s first choice for this project, which will see the Blue Oval tip the better part of $40 billion into electrification over the next decade.
The parting looks to be quite amicable, with Block announcing the departure on – where else - YouTube (at the top of the page).
"It’s simply been a dream come true to work with the company that built the truck that my Dad drove when I was a teenager," Block said in a release. "I’m super appreciative to Ford for the support over the years, but I am also looking forward to what an unrestricted 2021 holds, and the ability to spread my wings a bit and play with a lot of other toys.”
"All of us at Ford are very grateful for Ken Block and his bringing the thrill of Ford Performance vehicles to a whole new generation of car buyers," Ford Performance said in a statement.
"He did it in ways that were uniquely Ken - with fun, energetic and extraordinary driving exhibitions that were unmatched in the automotive world, along with important victories and performances in rally and rallycross worldwide."
So what will Ken Block do now? Whatever the hell he likes, basically… while forums are alight with the notion that there’s a return to Subaru on the cards, we reckon he might eschew factory backing for a little while to scratch some itches accumulated over ten years of repping one car brand.
Equally, Block’s departure from Ford creates a unique opportunity for another car company to fill the breach. Despite its relatively tiny size, Subaru benefited enormously from its involvement with Block; both Hyundai and Kia, for example, could do worse than to woo Block and his 19 million-strong social media army.
As Block moves deeper into his 50s, too, he might just perhaps looking at the chance to help his 14-year-old daughter Lia take over the family business of destroying all tyres.