Second-generation drag racer Tyler Hogan cut his teeth in the pits watching his dad, Tim, race Competition Eliminator, and he also had a front-row seat as his father grew the family business from a successful cylinder head shop to a sought-after manifold manufacturer. The younger Hogan took notes, and today, he appears to be effectively utilizing a whole mess of skills he acquired through observation.
Hogan first stretched his legs in the Jr. Dragster ranks, competing in NHRA’s Summit Racing-sponsored Jr. Drag Racing League. The young California-based driver claimed a total of 21 wins in the Jr. league and recorded a third-place finish in the 1997 Jr. Dragster Nationals. From there, Hogan initially licensed in Super Comp then bumped right up to Comp Eliminator so that he could race the family’s rear-engine C/DA.
These days, he’s still a fixture at the racetrack, but the Mooresville, North Carolina-based Hogan isn’t as likely to be found in the Comp pits. More often than not, Hogan is leaning over the engine compartment of a KB Racing Chevrolet Camaro, working with one of the most technologically tight-lipped teams on the property.
“I’m wherever they want me to be when those guys need an extra hand on the engine side of things,” Hogan says. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, but obviously this is a lot more intense. It’s like going from Little League to the Yankees.”
So how did a partnership like that begin; how did a guy whose family business works with many teams across a variety of categories end up privy to the Summit Racing team’s closely guarded secrets?
“I knew Jason Line through a mutual friend who raced Stock Eliminator with him, and our paths crossed,” Hogan explains. “Once fuel injection [EFI] was mandated for 2016, I harassed Jason for a couple of months until we figured something out. We started working together, and it went from there.”
Hogan wasn’t harassing Line for a job at the racetrack – he just knew in his heart of hearts that Hogan’s Racing Manifolds was the right fit for the new Pro Stock rules, and who better to test his theory than a pair of multi-time Pro Stock champs?
“Hogan’s Manifolds have been on the KB Racing cars since they went to fuel injection,” Hogan points out. In true KB Racing form, a certain level of discretion was part of the program.
“We didn’t tell anyone we were working together for about six months, until the Winternationals in Pomona,” Hogan continues. “It ended up working out that first race. KB Racing qualified 1-2-3, Bo Butner went to the semifinals, and then Greg Anderson beat Jason Line in the final. It was a good start.”
It was immediately evident that KB Racing had a large advantage on the field, and there were many factors involved – including guidance from longtime EFI campaigner John Meaney of Big Stuff 3 – but those manifolds proved to be a key component to success.
In the first year of EFI, KB Racing earned 16 victories in the 24 races on the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series on the schedule, with trophies split evenly between Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro pilots Line and Anderson. They each raced to 14 final rounds, Butner reached five finals, and 11 times there were KB Racing Chevys squaring off for the trophy in the last round on Sunday. KB claimed the top qualifying spot 18 times that first year.
When it became public knowledge, the partnership aided Hogan’s Racing Manifolds just as much as the product, itself, brought a tremendous surge to KB Racing’s quarter-mile efforts.
“It definitely helps us from a marketing standpoint, because for most every Sportsman racer, this is what they emulate. Pro Stock is the upper echelon,” Hogan says. “I’m a Sportsman racer, and I can say that most of us look up to these guys. I’ve learned a ton being here. These guys are great to work with, they’re smart, and they all work their butts off. It’s been a good experience.”
KB Racing has taken to fielding five cars in 2018 with Bo Butner, Deric Kramer, and Mexico’s Fernando Cuadra all under the umbrella, and the full plate has made Hogan’s trusted assistance even more critical at the racetrack. One common question, though, is if he misses his time behind the wheel.
“I haven’t raced since we started working with these guys, but I don’t know, I’ll probably drive something again sometime,” Hogan says. “I’ll get the bug, especially living in North Carolina now, where there are so many racetracks. Before we moved here, our closest track was like four hours away, so it wasn’t as easy.
“It’s a great opportunity that KB Racing even let me come here and work with them, and I love it. It’s cool to see how they work, and everyone from the drivers to the tuners to everyone working on these cars are the best of the best. I don’t feel like I personally have much to do with their success, but it’s cool to see up close.”