Keith Black (engineer)
Drag Racing Engineer Keith Black
June 25, 1926|
Huntington Park, California, U.S.
|Died||May 13, 1991
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Brain cancer|
|Resting place||Rose Hills Mortuary Whittier, California|
|Known for||Contributions to the American automotive industry|
Black first made a name for himself in the mid-1940s in boat racing. He set a world record in his second time out at Salton Sea. People liked his motors, and he quickly started a business out of his garage.
He opened Keith Black Racing Engines in 1959. By 1961 his boat racing exploits included nearly 50 international and national records.
Drag racing teams heard about his boat racing engines, and he was convinced by friend Tommy Greer to build a drag racing motor for the Greer-Black-Prudhomme Top Fuel dragster. In 1962 and 1963 the team won over 250 rounds to less than 25 losses. Black spent time in the late 1960s with Roland Leong's Hawaiian Top Fuel dragsters, and in the early 1970s with the Plymouth Barracuda Funny Car campaigned by "Big John" Mazmanian.
Chrysler contracted Black to develop a marine racing program in 1965.
Ed Donovan introduced the specialized aluminum engine block for nitro drag racing in 1971; the "Donovan 417" was based on a 1958 Chrysler 392 hemi. Black's aluminum engine blocks would dominate the market by the end of the decade. The engines Keith Black produces are based on the Chrysler 426 Hemi, Chevy Big Block, and Oldsmobile Big Block designs, but cut from virgin aluminum castings and built to the customer's specifications.
Keith Black died from complications due to brain cancer in 1991.