by: Mina Achorn, photos: Justic Goble
Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q3_2023 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.
To say the Block family – yes, that Block family – has a busy schedule these days would be a massive understatement. Forget school sports or final exams for Lia, much less anyone else, because that’s just the start of it. Lia and her mom Lucy just got back from the American Rally Association’s (ARA) Southern Ohio Forest Rally where Lia won her rear-wheel drive class and Lucy was leading hers when her engine gave out. They’re back in town for just a few days and were able to catch up with us before heading out for more testing… then on to Pikes Peak where Lucy will be competing in an electric Sierra ECHO EV and Lia will be performing exhibition runs in her dad’s Hoonipigasus racecar.
Lucy and Lia Block approach their lives with fierce determination and a healthy competitive outlook. While it is hard to balance motherhood and a life on the track, Lucy Block still manages to do it all – especially when it comes to doing her part in protecting the environment. And while school is far less adrenaline-inducing than climbing Pikes Peak in a pink Porsche, Lia remains on the honor roll and keeps up with close friends even while traveling the world.
I was recently given the opportunity to take part in a podcast with Lia and her mother (listen to it via the QR code link in this story – ed.). As a rising high school senior with a passion for journalism and media, I figured this would be interesting despite my lack of knowledge on the racing world. Admittedly, I felt awkward when I first hopped on the call, but Mrs. Block and Lia completely brought me out of my shell. It was hard not to be at least a little starstruck. Even with the circumstances of their day – the Blocks would be leaving to catch a flight out to an event later in the afternoon – they took the time to engage me in an unforgettable conversation.
Lia – without a doubt – is a rising star in motorsport. She grew up in a family of fearless individuals. Lia’s father, Ken Block, took their family to his races and on his trips. The up-and-coming racer was practically raised at the racetrack. When she was around eleven, her father let her participate in her first race. From there, Lia’s love for racing only grew. Karting was her way in. Despite starting late (apparently you can start karting as young as three), Lia jumped head first into the opportunity. This greatly helped her improve her technical racing skills, also known as race craft. Every time she participates in a karting event, she tries to find new ways to shave precious seconds off her time. Off the track, Ken also encouraged her to spend time with each member of the team. The idea was for Lia to learn each part of the machine that was Hoonigan Racing and to help her understand and respect the crew members and their unique roles.
Before she turned sixteen, Lia and her dad began work on what would be her first car, a 1985 Audi “ur” quattro. The car’s boxy shape was appealing to Lia, resembling Ken Block’s Sport quattro. While Ken’s team set out to find a suitable quattro, they also started work on a YouTube series. Lia would help restore the car with her father and a few Hoonigan Racing team members. After locating a suitable car in the middle of North Dakota, she purchased the quattro with money she’d earned, then brought it back to Park City.
Before any work could be started, the old rusty quattro had to be sandblasted. While the build schedule was set, the team did end up having to move around certain dates and change plans because the condition the car required further prep. Lia opened up and admitted to how difficult the restoration had been, but it wasn’t without its fun. From helping to swap in a 20-valve engine to painting the first few coats onto the car, many precious memories were made. As Lia said, “Most kids today can’t say they built their first car.” In addition to all her hard work, Lia also got to make her own paint mix for the quattro – “Lia Burgundy.” Today she uses the car mostly for trips to school and fun drives. The ‘80s quattro is one of her prized possessions.
Lucy Block was raised in a family without gender norms. Her parents made sure that she knew that she could do whatever she put her mind to. Lucy keeps this same mentality when raising her own children. Lia’s fiery, competitive spirit is fueled by her mother’s unyielding support. Like Lia, Mrs. Block has found herself racing. While she doesn’t consider motorsport to be her career, she participates in rallies. Racing for Lucy is a passion that fuels her own competitive spirit and a way for her to enjoy herself.
In a lot of ways, rally represents how the Blocks are able to stay the course. Lucy chose to make use of the massive resource that Hoonigan Racing represented and use it to continue Lia’s push to get a foothold in motorsport, while also allowing Lucy to step back into rallying that she’d put on hold when she became a mom. Rally isn’t just a way to satiate their competitive spirits, but also a way to embrace the shared passion of the whole Block family. When we spoke, both agreed that Ken was a hero and a huge influence. This seems a fitting way for them to keep on going without him, furthering the Block name in the legend and lore of rallying in their own unique way. And, even that uniqueness seems in keeping with the way Ken found his own road throughout his career.
Block family vacations are wherever the race schedule takes you. They always have been. However, when she can, Mrs. Block does her best to spend as much one-on-one time with Lia and her siblings as possible. And while the busy schedule does make it hard for Lucy to find time for herself, she still goes out with her friends when she needs a break. She also does her best to stay green; whether it’s driving her Audi e-tron or keeping disposable paper towels out of her home. Want to know how hard it is to manage laundering reusable cloth diapers for a baby while keeping up with rally season travel? Lucy can tell you, which drives the point home that doing her part for the environment is something she cares deeply about. Her belief: every little bit helps, and we should all do our part.
Not surprisingly, Lia Block is influenced by her mother, sharing her mindset. She doesn’t just want to be the best female racer;she wants to be the best racer. While she is the only female racer in her particular field, she has never encountered any of the toxicity that some people assume exists when they think about the racing community. The motorsport community is predominantly male, but the support and respect Lia has gained from her fellow competitors has only ever made her feel welcome. Lucy Block has a similar experience. If she does encounter minor pushback during her races, she simply chooses not to view her competitors’ aggression towards her as sexism.
Lia and Lucy press on regardless. While this phrase is the name of the oldest and most continuously run rally in North America, it’s also a general theme in rallying – when things get tough, keep going and help others along the way. This mix of competition, endurance, sportsmanship and community is the world the Blocks have lived in for years… and for Lia’s whole life. This mantra is fitting for the Block family. And while the car community has come out to support them after the loss of Ken, the Blocks continue to dig deep and rally on, even going so far as to pay the kindness forward. The family has repurposed the old Hoonigan Racing Division headquarters, retained some of its staff and equipment, and relaunched it as both Block House Racing and the 43 Institute. Block House Racing supports the family’s rallying, and the 43 Institute provides grants and support to help others achieve their dreams. The organization is named after Ken’s racing number 43, which the American Rally Association officially retired in March.
The 43 Institute is a non-profit organization that will carry on Ken’s legacy of “creating paths of opportunity for the exceptionally driven who may lack the proper support system for growth and success.” During the 2023 ARA season, the Institute will award the Flat Out 43Ver Award to the team that best embodies Ken’s spirit and attitude of “just ain’t care” and flat-out commitment. Award winners receive money and both driver and co-driver receive recognition.
So yes, it’s definitely been a busy schedule, and they seem to like that just fine. As Lia puts it, when she has nothing to do, she tends to feel overwhelmed. In as much, a fast-paced busy schedule is fitting. It’s an incredibly unique space where the Blocks have positioned themselves, but they seem perfectly attuned for it and always try their best to be supportive of each other. Lucy and Lia Block may be mother and daughter, but they’re also sisters in competition.