Would you let a 13-year-old drive a 355bhp Millington-engined Ford Escort Mk2? In most cases, that’s asking for an expensive repair bill. Not so when you’re the daughter of US rally and rallycross star Ken Block.
Lia Block is already following in her father’s footsteps, having taken a couple of podiums driving a utility terrain vehicle in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. But the power of the lightweight UTV buggies there pale in comparison to Ken’s 1978 Escort, which has been modified for his trademark Gymkhana-style events.
Utah was one of the few US states not to issue stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 outbreak, allowing multi-purpose racing venue Utah Motorsports Campus to reopen recently in a limited capacity.
With temperature checks in place and face masks required in certain areas, the restricted reopening allowed Block to bring one of his custom cars to a racetrack for the first time since the pandemic brought the motorsport world to a halt.
The reason why the 1978 Escort has been brought out for its first post-lockdown hoon isn’t to celebrate its legendary status; it’s here to teach 13-year-old Lia how to drift.
“In some ways this is the easiest car in my fleet to actually get the rear wheels spinning,” explains the elder Block.
“But it’s also one of the hardest to drive, because you’ve got to drive with a lot of rpm and a lot of throttle control, and it’s rear-wheel drive so it’s easy to loop it out.”
That’s a fairly ambitious starting point given Lia had only driven a stick-shift car for the first time three days before tackling the Escort, taking a Focus RS road-car on the family ranch as a warm-up. Yanking on the handbrake to get the rear-end out will be uncharted territory.
There’s one extra challenge for Lia to overcome as she learns to drive sideways too: a broken hand from a gymnastics accident weeks earlier that hasn’t healed adds in a little extra challenge.
After some tutoring in the passenger seat from Ken, it was Lia’s turn to try to twirl the Escort around on a dime. Watch the full video to find how how she fared!