NHRA 30th Greatest | 2006 Inducted, Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
Inducted, International Drag Racing Hall of Fame
I believe the ageless drag racing marvel is either 80 or 81 years young. "Greek" is entered to run Top Fuel at the 2009 NHRA Gatornationals: #: 323, Class: Top Fuel, Driver: Chris Karamesines, Hometown: Chicago IL, Car Make: '09 URC, Engine: BAE 500, Sponsor(s) Entry: Strange Engineering/Chizler. I know what pit Don Garlits and other attending NHRA legends will be hanging out. ~ fla
NHRA No. 30 Greatest: What Chris Karamesines lacks in NHRA national event wins (none) he's more than made up for in near-mythical tales generated during a six-decade career. Equipped with a fearless driving style that was largely influenced by his stint behind the wheel of stock cars on dirt tracks in the early 1950s, "the Greek" has probably saved more runs in his popular series of Chizler dragsters from full-throttle wheelstands or completely sideways launches than any other driver would dare claim.
Motorsports Hall of Fame of America: The vast majority of inductees in the Motorsports Hall of Fame have amassed astounding records on the track, but theres more to a successful career than a checklist of wins and losses. Numerous individuals have had dramatic impacts on their chosen fields of competition without ever having challenged the statisticians, and such is the case with the man known from Coast to Coast as The Greek, Chris Karamesines. Just as Hall of Famers Big Daddy Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney and TV Tom Ivo played significant roles in helping make drag racing an accepted form of motorsports, so too has Chris Karamesines, but unlike those mentioned, The Greek is still driving his 7,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster in his seventh decade! To understand Karamesiness impact on the sport one must look far beyond his unofficial breaking of the 200 MPH barrier back in the early 60s. Prior to the time of Karamesiness remarkable run at Alton Dragway in Illinois the Windy City native had impressed West Coast fans with his showmanship, competitive performances and, most importantly, his unmatched personality. Soft-spoken to a fault and bearing an often uncanny resemblance to movie star Caesar Romero at the height of his box office appeal, when The Greek climbed out of his car and said things like, I went so fast that time my mustache almost caught fire! people listened and didnt forget.
Excellent "Greek" Top Fuel Racing Videos: 1990 NHRA Le Grandnationals Molson
Sanair International Raceway, Saint-Pie, Quebec (Outside of Montreal)
Eliminations, Chris Karamesines vs.: Lori Johns, Round 2(1) | Joe Amato, Semi-Finals
Second video includes interview with Chris after his huge win against Amato. Greek lost in the Finals to defending NHRA Top Fuel World Champion Gary Ormsby(2)
Bonus Videos: Great one of two Texans, in Round 1 of eliminations, Kenny Bernstein vs. Eddie Hill, then interviews with both.
On a serious note, video of Don Prudhomme's huge Top Fuel dragster blowover and over the guardrail crash, then interview with "Snake" afterwards.
Don Garlits does the color commentary. God bless Diamond P for all their great NHRA legends videos/DVDs.
(1) Here's a great drag racing career compilation video of Texan Lori Johns. - 6:38 mins
(2) Aw. . . , one more video of Top Fuel eliminations on the other side of the ladder. Gary Ormsby vs. Eddie Hill, Shirley Muldowney, and Frank Hawley who was driving for Darrell Gwynn after his career ending Top Fuel crash. Talk about super-legends racing action. Of note, Sanair International Raceway is where Shirley Muldowney suffered her horrendous over the guardrail and near-fatal crash on June 29, 1984 during qualifying. Her injuries resulting in many surgical procedures to allow her to walk again. The rehabilitation process took 18 months before Shirley returned to the drag strip in 1986. However, her one leg that was severely crushed never was the same.
"Greek's" Drag Racing History and Outstanding Collection of Vintage Photos: (1) | (2)
talking to her about the finer aspects of oversize cylinder boring.
The 14-time NHRA Champion said plans to build the Funny Car of the Future (FCF) in a 50,000 square foot addition to his existing shop facility "is more important to me than all my championships."
In creating The Eric Medlen Project (TEMP), Force said his goal was to secure the legacy of its namesake, enhance race car safety in all forms of motor racing and sustain the JFR racing dynasty, which has claimed 15 NHRA Funny Car championships in the last 17 seasons.
"Our purpose is to show everyone that all of us at John Force Racing will never forget Eric Medlen and the impact he had on us," Force said of the young driver he has called "the son I never had."
"Don't get me wrong," Force said. "I am still working with (chassis builder) Murf McKinney, but one day we plan to evolve to doing everything in-house because that's the best way to maintain quality control."
In addition, TEMP will contain the high-tech data acquisition and testing equipment needed to support the JFR safety initiative. Force again emphasized that his team, led by Eric's father, John Medlen, will share all the safety-related data it develops with the NHRA and the PRO (Professional Racecar Owners).
The elder Medlen, who was crew chief on his son's Ford Mustang, is relocating from Russellville, Ark., with his wife, Martha. Hired in 1996 to oversee the build-up of a second JFR Funny Car team, Medlen also will resume his duties as crew chief on a Ford Mustang driven by rookie Mike Neff.
Mimi, Eric Medlen statue, John and Martha.
"Seeing Eric's dad so strong is all that gets me through it," Force said of the loss of the leader of his Next Generation of drivers. He also credited Medlen for putting him back on track following the March accident.
"He told me that my job was to lead this team and that I wasn't doing that," Force said. "He said Eric would have been disappointed in the way I was acting. That got my mind right because I knew then that I had to give John Medlen the tools he needed to make sure that what happened to Eric didn't happen to someone else. The only way I knew to do that was to keep on racing."
The thrust of TEMP will be the creation of the FCF, a concept vehicle that Force insists must be both "affordable and competitive.
"John Medlen already has talked to engineers about what can and can't be done," Force said. "We've talked to people inside the sport, like Murf McKinney, and people in IndyCar and NASCAR and Formula One."
Lucas, Bernstein, Force, Todd with Eric's statue.
John Medlen, who is working closely with the NHRA, SFI, Ford Motor Company and others on the safety initiatives, calls the spirit of cooperation he has seen thus far unprecedented.
"We've been given data that it would have taken years for us to develop on our own," Medlen said. "It's been a very humbling experience that shows the depth of the impact of Eric's accident."
"It's a joint effort," Force said, "and whatever (safety) data is developed and whatever the conclusions are, we'll share them with the entire racing community. It's not just for my own children (daughters Ashley, 24, Brittany, 20, and Courtney, 18, all are racers), it's for all the mothers and fathers and their children who are out here with us. To make the sport better for them, better for the future, that's why I'm investing my money and why the sponsors are investing their money."
While the creation of the FCF will be a priority, The Eric Medlen Project ultimately will be competition-driven. Using machine tools built by Giddings and Lewis and Fadal, TEMP this fall will deliver a Ford-branded fuel motor.
Eric Medlen never will be far away from the project that bears his name. A life size bronze statue of the once aspiring rodeo cowboy now occupies a prominent position beneath the flagpole outside the JFR complex and a room inside the shop is dedicated to the six-time tour winner, remembering his life in photos, displays and testimonials. The statue, unveiled in ceremonies on Thursday, Aug. 30, was cast by Storyland Studios in Lake Elsinore, Calif., the same company that created the statue of NHRA founder Wally Parks that stands in front of the NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, Calif. - - Credit DRO