Photos: NHRA

NHRA: 86-year-old Chris Karamesines hits 305.01 mph in Brainerd qualifying

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UPDATE: Unfortunately, Karamesines’ Cinderella story to potentially reach Sunday’s final round fell short, losing to Clay McMillen in the opening round of eliminations.


This weekend’s qualifying for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd (Minnesota) International Raceway was one where some of the sport’s most veteran drivers really flexed their muscle — at over 10,000 horsepower.

The biggest and most pleasant surprise came Friday when veteran Top Fuel drag racer Chris Karamesines qualified No. 13 with a run of 4.003 seconds at 305.01 mph.

Now, that may not seem like a big deal until you realize Karamesines — colorfully nicknamed “the Golden Greek” because of his nationality — is 86 years old.

Chris Karamesines

At least that’s what the Karameines, who was inducted in 2006 into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of Amerca, and NHRA records say he is: reportedly born Nov. 11, 1931.

Others that know him say the Chicago native is actually 88 or even 89.

Karamesines, who is rumored to be retiring at the end of this season after nearly seven decades of racing, will face No. 4 qualifier Clay Millican (3.790 seconds at 323.04 mph) in Sunday’s first round of eliminations.

It’s the second time in five years that Karamesines — named to the 50 Greatest Drivers in NHRA history in 2001 — has exceeded 305 mph at Brainerd, having done so in 2014 (305.98 mph at 3.945 seconds).

His career-best speed, according to NHRA records, is 313.51 mph at the 2015 Gatornationals.

He also had a run of 3.979 seconds at 301.00 mph at St. Louis in 2016, and reached 300.06 mph this past June during eliminations at Norwalk, Ohio.

And then there’s Billy Torrence, the father of current Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence. Having just turned 60 in April, Billy Torrence, earned the first No. 1 qualifying spot of his nearly three-decade drag racing career.

Billy Torrence

Billy Torrence ran 3.784 seconds at 326.32 mph to bump his son from the No. 1 qualifying spot in the final round of Saturday’s qualifying. Billy Torrence will face Terry Totten in Sunday’s first round of eliminations.

Steve Torrence, who is the current points leader, qualified second following his run of 3.786 at 325.37 and will race Bill Litton on Sunday.

Dean Wilson out for rest of Supercross season
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“Such a massive gut punch on Saturday,” Dean Wilson wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “Just as I was gaining good momentum riding well, feeling good and chasing my first win things turned in the blink of an eye.”

With that post, Wilson announced that he will be out for the remainder of the Supercross season, which includes races at East Rutherford, N.J. and Las Vegas, Nev. An MRI earlier in the week revealed a shoulder injury. He also sustained damage to his kidney in a Lap 8 accident while he was running in the top 10.

Wilson’s injuries will not require surgery.

Wilson’s season began with a lot of promise. Earning the holeshot in the season-opening race at Anaheim, Wilson led for a time before narrowly missing the podium in fourth.

Two weeks later, Wilson finished fifth overall in the Triple Crown event of Anaheim II. Those are his only top-fives of the season.

“The tough part of this is I have been trying so hard this year to be back where I need to be trying to get a job for next year,” Wilson continued.

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Such a massive gut punch on Saturday. Just as I was gaining good momentum riding well, feeling good and chasing my first win things turned in the blink of an eye. Started off Denver topping free practice then went on to qualify P1 in qualifier 1. Qualifier 2 didn’t get the cleanest laps but ended with a 4th. On to the main event I was running around 7th on lap 7 moving forward and as I came around for the rhythm section I tripled in and something freak happened causing the bike to nose dive after I tripled in and pile driving me into the ground. The tough part of this is I have been trying so hard this year to be back where I need to be trying to get a job for next year. It’s tough just hoping to have a ride each year. 2nd part is people saying “wilson’s hurt again, big surprise there” when it was something that wasn’t my fault. It’s a tough pill To swallow.. I injured my shoulder and got a contusion on my kidneys. Got MRI and good news is I dodged a bullet on my shoulder and I am just going to give it a few weeks of rest and therapy and see where we are at. Huge disappointment to end my SX season like this. Thanks to my whole team for everything and everybody checking in on me. I really appreciate it. I will be back.

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Next Race: East Rutherford April. 27, on NBCSN and on NBC Sports Gold

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