It's the last full-length feature Block will ever appear in.
On 21 December 2022, Tuthill Porsche posted a full-length documentary film about an African Rally it competed in. Luckily, the director chose to focus on the drivers to get a better understanding of their experience. On the day it was released, we didn't have the time to watch it, and then Christmas came, and eventually, it was just left in a column of news items that needed to be assigned.
We eventually watched it the day before Ken Block died in an unfortunate snowmobile accident. Why does it matter? Because Ken Block was one of the drivers Tuthill chose to compete in the rally, and as a result, he features quite a lot. As far as we know, this is the last known piece of media Ken Block appeared in, apart from his own socials.
The hour-and-ten-minute-long documentary below provides fantastic insight into the minds of rally drivers, of which Ken Block is just one. It's an altogether different viewing experience, knowing that Block has passed away.
Do you want to know why Formula 1 is more successful than the WRC, even though the latter provides more insane action within the first 10 minutes than the former provides all season? Because it's a sucky spectator sport. Every inch of an F1 track can be covered with multiple cameras, but you can't do the same at a rally. The TV cameras usually choose a bit where some slidey or jumpy action is guaranteed, and viewers get fed the same shot of every car.
It's even worse as a live spectator. You choose a spot, and your favorite driver comes hooning past at an impossible speed for three seconds at best, and that's it. There's no way you'll make it to the next checkpoint before they do unless you have a media pass and a map of the shortcuts. And even then, it's damn near impossible.
Rallying would benefit greatly from a series like Drive to Survive because these men and women are a different kind of breed.
Your faithful correspondent came up with a brilliant idea a few years ago to improve F1. The normal drivers like to complain when it's a bit wet, so each F1 team should be forced to employ a rally driver as a fourth. They'd fly in when conditions are so severe that only a rally driver would be mad enough to go out on track.
What separates them from the rest? To put it colloquially, they've got a set of big brass ones.
We hate to harp on about Ken Block, but he was the perfect example. Tuthill entered 13 cars in the rally, hoping for a 1-2-3 finish. Ken Block was just one of 13 drivers. All 13 were racing custom-built classic Porsche 911 rally cars and not the modern 911 Dakar unveiled recently. You can see the results in the screengrab below. Block finished 19th out of 41 entries. Patrick Sandell did the best, finishing in second.
At the film's start, Tuthill states that the rally was an all-consuming entity that had taken over his life for 18 months. He knew the cars in and out, but Block had limited time available.
He rocked up and delivered a beautiful quote off the bat: "A circuit driver sees one corner a thousand times, but a rally driver sees a thousand corners one time."
It was Block's first time racing this car and racing in Kenya. He was given an eight-kilometer (five-mile) stint to get to grips with the car and African conditions before setting off on an eight-day excursion. The race itself was 100 miles longer than the entire US Rally Series Block competed in with his Hyundai i20 WRC car.
Rallying is generally dangerous, but rallying in Africa takes that to the next level. There's no crowd control, so it's pretty much as it was during Group B racing glory days. In addition to concentrating on driving, you must constantly be aware of children, livestock, and massive bumps.
In true Ken Block style, he was fearless. It's pretty amazing when you consider that Block's rallying experience comes from driving purpose-built rally cars with 4WD to a rear-engined Porsche 911 with RWD.
The original Head Hooncho soon realized what he was facing, mentioning epic jumps followed by a herd of cows. It's a recipe for disaster, and eventually, it happened. Not once, but twice. We don't want to spoil this epic documentary, but Block lost all chances of winning when he narrowly avoided a local on a scooter and opted to put the car in a hedge instead, not knowing what was on the other side. That's courage.
Later, he noticed a puncture but kept on going full send, struggling to keep the car in a straight line.
But this film is not just about Block. It's about an entire team and two other drivers. Ken Block's death makes it hit differently, knowing that living on the edge often results in a person paying the ultimate price.
But looking at this documentary, we do not doubt that it's how he would have wanted to go.