On this one you’ll probably have to click the photo so you can appreciate this anonymous commenter’s response in all its smoking glory…
There’s something unnervingly enjoyable about watching Mr. Block’s rise from salesman for made-in-China shoes to quick-bake sort-of-racing superstar. He rarely puts a foot wrong from a PR perspective; the bulk of his effort is devoted to entertaining YouTubers and building his amorphous brand, not winning races. Unlike Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, or even Patrick Dempsey, Ken Block is in the motorsports biz to build his fame, not to escape it. To what purpose? That’s the best part. Fame is its own reward, apparently.
In many ways, Block is the perfect role model for the generation where everybody gets a trophy, although he is actually from Generation X. His emphasis is on participation and promotion, not winning. While he has gamely competed, after a fashion, in everything from RallyAmerica to the WRC, he is happiest when he controls the scene and the focus. His “Gymkhana” videos are a sort of everyman’s version of the BMX/skate videos that became so popular during the Nineties. But instead of some hugely talented skater or rider doing something impossibly dangerous and difficult (for an example, the peerless On The Down Low is recommended) it’s just good ol’ Ken doing fun but entirely comprehensible stuff in expensive, custom-built cars. You could ride BMX for twenty years and not pull a twenty-foot drop like the Gonz (believe me, I know) but if you had Ken’s money and time you could do what he does, no sweat. And that’s part of the appeal of it.
This handbrake cover doesn’t look like a trophy by accident. It’s a trophy he’s given himself, for his victories. They might be victories of self-promotion and pay-driving and participation, but hey, at least he’s not at home playing video games, right?