Ken Black had big dreams when he formed KB Racing in 2002, and two decades later, his dreams were more than recognized with 176 total victories and nine world championships in the ultra-competitive NHRA Pro Stock category. At the conclusion of 2022, Black and his wife, Judy, elected to retire from drag racing to focus on family, and that decision opened up a tremendous opportunity – and one that the Titan Racing Engines partners, including drag racing mainstays Eric Latino and Jim Whiteley, could not pass up. As a result, the KB Racing and Titan Racing teams announced that they have joined forces to become KB Titan Racing (KBTR).
"To partner with one of the most respected and successful teams in the history of Pro Stock is incredible," said Latino. "We built a really good, respected, and proven brand with Titan Racing Engines – not just for Pro Stock but also for Pro Mod, sprint cars, and dirt track racing – and with the resources that we now have together, the capabilities are truly awesome. There are more announcements to come for KB Titan Racing, but we're already beyond thrilled with this partnership."
Last season, Titan Racing Engines powered rookie Pro Stock driver Camrie Caruso. The combination proved effective almost immediately, as Caruso raced to top speed of the meet at the season opener in Pomona and was the No. 1 qualifier and runner-up in just her fifth Pro Stock race at the NHRA Springnationals in Houston.
Titan Racing Engines assets previously located in Denver, N.C., are in the process of being moved to their new home in Mooresville – where the most winning driver in Pro Stock, five-time world champion Greg Anderson – has been stationed with his race team for many years. Not only will the equipment be combined to round out the race shop with the best of the best, but the staff will also be moving to the Mooresville location to create a powerful force behind the scenes.
"That [team] includes Stevie Johns and Mike Smith," said Latino, referring to the key staples in Denver engine shop. Johns is a former world champion and master machinist who has worked alongside Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins. Engine builder Smith was a student of Warren "the Professor" Johnson. Johns and Smith were also an integral part in the careers of other champion drag racers and engine builders, including Victor Cagnazzi and the Gray Motorsports team.
"These guys are just so talented, and they've been part of extremely successful operations," Latino continued. "To bring them together with Greg Anderson, Rob Downing, Dave Connolly, and all of the talent in the Mooresville race shop – that's a lot of knowledge under one roof. The really exciting part is that we've already started sharing information and realizing what we can do together. We were good as two separate teams, but we've taken the two best East Coast powerhouses and found that we're going to be much, much stronger together. We've got the best of the best, all under one roof."
The Pro Stock drivers who race out of the Mooresville shop will remain largely the same, with the potential of additional drivers joining the fold in the very near future.
"This is incredibly exciting for all of us," said Latino, whose experience in drag racing has been from the standpoint of both driver and team owner. "We have Ken Black to thank for starting a team that accomplished so much under his direction, and really, it's an honor to be able to carry on the iconic brand. Combining resources between Titan Racing Engines and KB Racing, we've expanded our potential in a way that has already even surprised us."
The KB Titan Racing shop is already humming with activity in preparation for a strong, united push into the 2023 season of NHRA's Camping World Drag Racing Series. The KB Titan Racing CNC machines have been cutting chips, engine blocks are in the machining process, and cylinder heads are under construction based on the historic team's fresh, collaborative knowledge, and for Greg Anderson, the hum is pleasing and promising.
"It's no secret that it was very sad for us to see Ken Black retire – he's meant so much to us through the years, and he will always be part of this team,” said Anderson. “He's the heart of the team, to be honest, and that will never change. Father Time had his say in this one. Ken and Judy made the right decision for themselves and their family – and you can't help but be happy for the people you care about. But we had to find the next Ken Black, and that wasn't an easy thing to do. When it's all said and done, I think we came pretty close, and I'm really excited about the future of this team."