Motorsport has always been in Lia Block’s blood, but the Williams driver is forging her own path as she takes on her first full single seater season in F1 ACADEMY.

Delving into her racing origins, the 17-year-old takes us to the heart of her story, going back to where it all started and how her transition from off-road to the 2024 grid has shaped her journey so far.

Block’s passion for all things fast has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Raised at the racetrack, the paddock became Block’s home away from home as her family travelled around supporting her late father, Ken Block’s career.

“My journey in motorsports started when I was very, very young,” Block explained. “I was kind of born into it, I travelled around the world with my dad when he was racing in the World Rallycross Championship, as well as WRC (World Rally Championship).

“I’ve just always been around cars and in paddocks, so it was kind of just part of my life and I wanted to do it one day. So, I started a little bit of off-road and then I went to karting.”

She added: “My first motorsport memory would definitely be just in a rallycross paddock with my dad, going back-and-forth from the pits to the grandstanding to watch each race.”

Before joining F1 ACADEMY Block became the youngest American Rally Association champion in 2023
Before joining F1 ACADEMY, Block became the youngest American Rally Association champion in 2023

It wouldn’t take long for her to be bitten by the racing bug, getting her first taste in karting. Naturally gravitating towards the off-road cars she’d grown up around, Block eventually began drifting cars, competing in drag-racing in the legendary Mustang ‘Hoonicorn’ at 14-years-old.

Despite the differences between the cars she grew up in and the #57 ART Grand Prix car she races with now, Block believes her experiences continue to be a uniquely beneficial asset, allowing her to find ways to overcome many of the hurdles she’s encountered.

“I first started when I was 10. I started in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Short Course Series in a 570 RZR. It’s kind of a bit like rallycross, but with more off-road vehicles and I did that for about one year, and that’s how I fell in love with it.

“I stopped doing that series and went into karting for a little bit, but I did stuff on and off, but mostly off-road. Off-road and rally are very different from circuit racing, but I think every single type of motorsport somehow relates into each other.

READ MORE: Champions of the Future Academy Round 2 Recap: Making progress with every lap

“So, I think even though I took a different path coming through the off-road route, I think everything helps. I have a lot more car control coming into the open-wheel and open-wheel is teaching me a lot of stuff that I could potentially bring back to off-road.”

Block quickly established herself as a force to be reckoned with, marking her entry into national level rally a year later at the final round of the 2021 American Rally Association Championship. After six appearances the following year, she was on the hunt for glory next time around.

With four wins and five podiums, she sealed the 2023 ARA 02WD Class Championship title as part of the first all-woman team to do so and became the youngest champion in the series’ history.

“A core memory for me would be the last race in the (American) Rally Championship last year,” she revealed. “It was the rally I won the Championship with two races early, so it was kind of a big surprise, but it was something that I’m definitely going to hold on to forever.”

Block scored her first F1 ACADEMY points in Miami five months after first setting foot in a single seater
Block scored her first F1 ACADEMY points in Miami, five months after first setting foot in a single seater

Her racecraft and versatility continued to grow as she took on the Extreme E and Nitrocross NEXT Championships, alongside achieving victory in the Baja 1000, winning the Pro-Stock division alongside her mother Lucy Block and the Block House Racing Team.

Then an opportunity came from Williams Racing – a chance switch to single seaters to race for them in the 2024 F1 ACADEMY campaign. Although a gamble, Block jumped at new challenge. Getting back to basics, the American driver had a short window to get to grips with her new machinery and Block credits Williams’ support in helping her to make the most out of the three months preparation before Round 1 in Jeddah.

READ MORE: INTRODUCING ABBI PULLING: The Alpine driver on singing, being a chatterbox and when she ‘drove with one arm’

“I first got involved with F1 ACADEMY through Williams,” she explained. “So, they approached me last year about doing this series this year and it was a really cool opportunity, so of course, I took it! The Williams Racing Academy is super, super cool to be a part of because it’s such a big family. We get to work with the entire team, get to know each other, train with each other and have a lot of support from the Williams F1 team.”

With Williams’ backing both at the team’s base in Grove and on the road, Block’s beginning to come into her own in the series. Scoring her maiden points last time out in Miami, she’ll be looking to build on that and start the journey towards the podium next time out in Barcelona.

Watch Lia Block’s Racing Origins over on our Shorts section or head over to our Instagram now.