Saturday, November 14, 2009

NHRA driver Chris Karamesines not showing his age

Chris Karamesines started drag racing in 1952. That much is certain. He celebrated a birthday on Nov. 11. Which birthday exactly is anyone’s guess.
According to National Hot Rod Assn. records, it was his 79th birthday. It could be his 81st. When asked about his age, Karamesines said it’s probably best to go with the oldest. He’s not about to reveal his real age.
While his age remains a mystery, his place in NHRA history is cemented. He was the first drag racer to break the 200 mph barrier back in 1960. It was nearly four years before Don Garlits and Frank Cannon, legendary drag racers, were able to go faster than 200 mph. Karamesines has three career runner-up finishes in nearly 60 years of NHRA drag racing, but has never won a race. In 2001, he was named one of the top 50 drivers in NHRA history.
Karamesines was the 10th fastest top fuel qualifier on Friday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. He laid down a lap at 308.57 mph and 3.897 seconds.
After the run, a piston burned up in his car and his team had to push it back to the garage area for repairs. Normally his crew consists of three guys. He has a little more help this weekend, but not enough to keep Karamesines from rebuilding his own engine on Saturday morning.
His hands were covered in grease and oil as his replaced the pistons in his car’s engine. He doesn’t shake hands, preferring to fist pump. It is a greeting formed out of necessity, quick and seamless as he returns to working on his engine.
“It was good to come out here and make a good run in front of all my friends,” said Karamesines, a driver from Chicago. It was much better than Thursday’s run, when he didn’t even get on the track.
Karamesines said his goal is to make it to the first round and see what happens from there.
“I’ve done it so long, it’s in your blood,” Karamesines said. “I enjoy going to the races and I enjoy racing.”

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