Legendary Chris Karamesines Headlines
Annual Citrus Nationals
By Angela Wall
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - Chris Karamesines does a lot of things slower than he did, 50 years ago when he began a legendary drag racing career that continues Nov. 24-25 in the 20th annual Murray's Speed & Custom Mountain Dew Citrus Nationals at Moroso Motorsports Park.
The 73-year-old drag racing icon walks slower, talks slower and eats slower. But once he's strapped into his 7,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster, the man they call "the Golden Greek" is as fast as he ever was - faster, in fact, due to advances in performance technology.
Just last month, the Chicago native recorded a personal best quarter mile time when he was clocked in 4.761 seconds during qualifying for an NHRA national event at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.
Earlier this year, he was clocked at 301.33 miles per hour at his home track, Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., thereby becoming the oldest driver ever to break the 300 mph barrier. In fact, it was Karamesines' success that drew another legend, Florida's Don Garlits, out of retirement to compete at the Labor Day U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind. Like Garlits, Karamesines was selected as one of the NHRA's Top 50 drivers even though most of his racing success came outside the NHRA series.
A superstar on the old American Hot Rod Association circuit, Karamesines last raced for an NHRA championship in 1990 when he was the Top Fuel runner-up to the late Gary Ormsby at both the Grandnational in Montreal, Canada, and the Northwest Nationals in Seattle, Wash.
He will oppose distaff driver Vicki Fanning of Stephenville, Texas in the Udder Nonsense car, in the Top Fuel portion of the Citrus Nationals which also will feature jet dragsters, jet Funny Cars, the Shockwave Jet Truck, the COOL Bus Wheelstander, and "Jim the Jet" Nielsen and his jet-powered Mercedes-Benz limousine.
Champions also will be crowned in the more traditional categories including Federal Mogul Dragster, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, Combo, Sportsman, and Pro Bike.
New to this year's Citrus program will be the popular Outlaw Pro Street class featuring the world's quickest and fastest street legal vehicles. Among the pre-entries in the Outlaw class are Sarasota's Tony Christian and Ft. Lauderdale's Corky Markwart along with Kevin King (in Richard Earle's one-of-a-kind Studebaker), Doug Horween, Larry Ensslin, Steve Hall, Wayne Smozanek, and Richard Sweeney. Of the pre-entered drivers, Christian's name easily is the most recognizable. The veteran has won NHRA national events in several categories including Pro Stock where he most recently was a winner at the 1990 Chief Nationals at the Texas Motorplex. However, for the last 10 years, Christian has focused on the "muscle car circuit" which involves fewer politics and features street-driven vehicles with which average Americans can more easily identify.
Gates open at 8:30 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday with time trials at 9 a.m. Federal Mogul Dragster and Outlaw Pro Street qualifying is set for 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday with jets and other exhibition vehicles immediately following each session. Sunday's program begins with eliminations at 1:30 p.m. Exhibition vehicles will run at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The track will be open for time trials from 6:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Friday.
Adult tickets are $15 Friday, $20 Saturday, and $20 Sunday although a Saturday-Sunday combo is available for $35. All tickets include free parking and pit access. Children under 12 are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Discount tickets can be purchased in advance at Bud's Chicken & Seafood and Murray's Speed & Custom.
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