Chris “The Greek” Karamesines, who is still racing Top Fuel dragsters at age 81, has been selected as the 8th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion’s Grand Marshal.
Karamesines is a member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He has participated in the sport for over 50 years and is still a high-profile figure in drag racing, according to a press release.
“At an age when most would rather be relaxing at home, “The Greek” Karamesines continues to drive a 7,000-hp Top Fuel dragster and shows no signs of slowing down,” said Tony Thacker, executive director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and event organizer. “It’s a huge honor for us to recognize one of drag racing’s titans, Chris “The Greek” Karamesines, as the grand marshal of this year’s Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion at Beech Bend Raceway.”
Chicago’s Karamesines has never won an NHRA national event, but more than made up for it with showmanship, competitive performances and charming personality, according to the release. He first came to national prominence with his Top Eliminator win at the 1959 AHRA Nationals in Great Bend, Kan. On April 4, 1960 at Alton, Ill., he was credited with a run of 204.54 mph. Controversial and questionable to be sure coming years before consistent 200-mph speeds, that performance nevertheless cemented “the Greek’s” name in drag racing history.
Other career highlights include qualifying No. 1 at the 1963 and ’64 Bakersfield March Meet with the first 7-second ET, two wins at the World Series of Drag Racing in Cordova, the ’65 Olympics of Drag Racing at Union Grove, and the ’66 AHRA Grand American Finale.
Longtime friend and 2009 NHRR honoree Bob Stange has backed “The Greek” for years, yet he remains an independent racer. In 1990 he ran the full NHRA schedule and finished just 36 points out of the top 10. Without a single NHRA win, he was voted Number 30 on NHRA’s Top 50 Drivers list.
Also being recognized at the 8th Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion are honorees Joe Jacono, J.E. Kristek, Leffler Bros. & Loukas, T.C. Lemons and Larry Reyes. The Justice Brothers Car Care Products Reunion Spotlight falls on the Ford Drag Team.