If US rallycross was to have a Mount Rushmore, the chances are the faces carved into the rock would be Scott Speed and Tanner Foust – the two most successful drivers in the discipline’s American history – and Travis Pastrana and Ken Block; two of the most popular and influential drivers to compete in it.
Three of those four took to the track for Nitro Rallycross’ season opener at the Utah Motorsports Campus last weekend, but there was one noticeable absentee.
Ken Block was at the track, but strictly in the role of dad as his daughter Lia competed in the Sierra Cars class. For the Head Hoonigan In Charge, it marked the first Nitro Rallycross contest that he hadn’t participated in.
“The track is what I miss the most,” Block said. “The last two years that I was here I was in cars I wasn’t that happy with and [Steve] Arpin did a great job with what he was given and we just didn’t have the ideal thing to go [and] win.”
Roll the clock back to 2018 and Block ran in the Ford Focus RS RX. Co-developed by M-Sport and Ford Performance amid much fanfare, the car never really reached the intended heights during a two year spell in the World Rallycross Championship, while a brief foray in Americas Rallycross for the car with Block and Steve Arpin didn’t yield much better results.
At Nitro Rallycross, back then a part of the Nitro World Games action sports event, the Focus’ suspension couldn’t quite tackle the demands of the Utah Motorsports Campus course, leading to a disappointing event.
By 2019, the Focus’ superior engine and electronics had been shoehorned into the proven M-Sport Fiesta platform by Arpin’s Loenbro Motorsports outfit. Arpin had shown speed in ARX, and Block too was also looking on course for a podium when he took the wheel at NRX, but a puncture ended those hopes.
I would love to go do that jump again, but when I do this I want to do it in the best possible equipmentKen Block
Looking ahead to a potential future in NRX, Block left the door open, but insisted it’d have to be on the right terms.
“I enjoy coming to these tracks,” he said. “I would love to go do that jump again, but when I do this I want to do it in the best possible equipment.
“So that’s where the frustrating thing of being a race car driver comes along and when they announced what they were doing this year we just didn’t have the time or budget to put something together but hopefully we can some time in the future.”
In the meantime, Block is enjoying his time back rallying, competing in the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National series with his own Vermont SportsCar-built Subaru.
“Why I am a rally driver is because I was a fan first and that’s really the deal, so I get to go out and do these things and work with these amazing companies and it’s incredible,” he said.
“I’m back to racing rally full-time and that’s where I started and that’s what I truly love the most. I enjoy rallycross but nothing compares to stage rally.”