Ken Block splits with Ford – what next for rally star?
Monday 11th January, 2021 - 4:30pm
He’s one of the most popular racing drivers on the planet, with a huge social media following and millions of YouTube views. And he’s looking for a new car.
Ken Block made the shock announcement that he’s parting ways with Ford after a 10 year exclusive partnership. Both sides stressed it was an amicable split, with Ford CEO Jim Farley paying tribute to what Block managed to achieve with the brand in a specially produced video (see below).
Block burst onto the motorsport scene driving Subarus in the American rally championship and his now famous Gymkhana video series. The immense popularity of those videos, which Block created using his marketing savvy from his days running DC Shoes, made him a target for big names sponsors and Ford stepped in to become his official vehicle partner.
Together the pair raced in both rally and rallycross (in the US and internationally) as well as continuing the Gymkhana series with increasingly wild cars. The pinnacle was arguably Gymkhana Seven’s ‘Hoonicorn’, a custom-built 1965 Ford Mustang inspired by WRC and DTM cars and powered by a NASCAR V8. That was followed by the F-150 Hoonitruck – which was powered by a version of the Le Mans-winning Ford GT 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6.
There was also a range of Fiesta-based rally machines and lately Block has campaigned a 1994 Escort Cosworth. Block’s personal car collection also includes a Group B RS200 and his wife drives a custom 1974 Bronco powered by a modern Coyote 5.0-litre V8.
Block paid tribute to the blue oval and the time they spent together.
“Working with Ford over the past decade has been awesome.” says Ken Block. “From racing all over the world, to accumulating a half billion views from Gymkhana Three to Gymkhana Ten, to creating the Emmy nominated series The Gymkhana Files for Amazon Prime – along with building a fleet of Fords including the iconic AWD Mustang Hoonicorn and F-150 Hoonitruck – it’s been a great partnership. 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. 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 other toys.”
Block hasn’t announced any definitive plans for 2021 yet, and has described his new arrangement as an “open relationship” with Ford; which means he may still drive some of his famous blue oval machines. But he has already teased a photo of the Audi Quattro S1 Group B rally car on his Instagram account, calling the German machine “one of my favourite rally cars of all time…” and suggested he may drive one in 2021.
If Block does decide to partner with a new manufacturer there should be no shortage of brands lining up to cash in on his social media popularity. Or if he stays a freelancer, he could help boost his popularity with a more diverse choice of vehicle.