Chris Karamesines, known as "the
Greek" to fans and friends alike, was and is a professional
drag racer of the first order. In the 50s and 60s he owned the
respected Engine Specialists Shop in Chicago, Illinois, but his
first love from day one was driving the quarter-mile. In 1963
Chris was a 35-year-old family man who had been aiming for the
#1 Fuel Eliminator title for 12 years. He had owned several different
cars to this point but for the 1963 season he got a new Rod Stuckey
A/FD and named it "Chizler". It was the most beautiful,
most successful Karamesines car to date.
It was to debut at the AHRA Winter
Nationals held mid-February at Mel Larson's Phoenix, AZ, drag
strip now known as "Speedworld". On the way out to
meet him with a spare engine, Don Maynard - with Kenny Hirata
riding along - was killed in a head-on collision with a sleeping-driver-car
that crossed a median.
The Greek was devastated and
left for Chicago to be with Maynard's family. He left instructions
for Stuckey to race the car in his absence. There was a set of
super-compound M&H's on the roof of his Chrysler wagon but
the Greek wanted to test them himself so told Stucky to race
on the current tires. Wrong thing to say. Stuckey mounted the
new tires and set Low E.T of the event at 7.81 seconds! One week
later "the Greek' set Low E.T. at the March Meet with the
same combination at 7.99.
In its first season it boasted
best results (unofficial) of 7.80 sec.- 204 mph on separate occasions,
victory at the '63 Cordova World Series, records at nearly every
strip east of the Rockies (and some west), the finally the #1
Fuel Eliminator title, and too many other proud moments to mention.
Constructed with the resources and knowledge of a professional,
the "Chizler" required only three weeks time, but an
$8000 bankroll to become a pre-race favorite at strips everywhere.
Stuckey used 4130 chrome-moly
tubing to assemble the 126" chassis. Torsion bar suspension,
friction shocks, Ford spindles, Al Thompson spoke wheels, Pirelli
tires comprise the front section. 3.32-1 Olds third member, drum
brakes, Halibrand mags, and 10.50 x 15 M & H slicks, the
rear. Confronting the driver are a Stuckey wheel, which operated
the Ross steering gear, only one gauge (oil pressure), Donovan
differential shield, and a chute release which operated the Carter
Chris got credit for the engine's
superb performance, although Iskenderian and Donovan representatives
were sometimes found lending a helping hand. The hemi-head Chrysler
remained at 392" displacement, but put out more power than
the 480" giants. Isky supplied a special 9000 MM 40 cam
and kit, Donovan the rocker arms and 2 1/8" - 2 1/16"
valves, M/T the pistons and Grant the rings. Mounted on top of
a Cragar manifold was a traditional 6-71 blower and the newest
Hilborn "owl" four-hole injection system sporting a
"Speed Sport" scoop. Chris did his own blower preparation
and overdrove it 18% over engine speed. Other Karamesines products
included the rods and exhaust headers. Donovan provided the steel
flywheel and unique flywheel shield which served as a mount for
steering apparatus, throttle pedal, clutch pedal, and as a support
for the drive line.
Completing the package was silver
paint by Stuckey, Tony Nancy naugahyde upholstery, and special
"Chizler" Donovan valve covers were in keeping with
the professional approach as was the fully enclosed trailer and
1963 Cadillac tow car which transport the machine from strip
1963 the Greek had Stuckey build a full body.
About this time Chris built what
was likely the first simple enclosed trailer that any touring
pro had and also started towing with a White 63 Cad Coupe de
Ville. Being able to carry necessary fuel and equipment in the
trailer made towing with a car much simpler.
Maine in 1964 prior to the Greeks extended tour to the West coast.
In 1964 Karamesines came to the
West Coast to defend his #1 Fuel Mr. Eliminator title. He faced
the best in the business in match races and open competition.
The Greek's first challenger
was Tom McEwen and the best of 3 match race took place at Pomona.
Chris won defended his title defeating the Broussard, Purcell,
Davis and McEwen entry with back-to-back 7.90s.
Before his next outing at Fontana
the Greek swapped his familiar Hilborn "owl" four-hole
injectors with the classic Speed Sport scoop for the newest Hilborn
offering - the one piece low profile injectors that were working
so well on the Greer, Black & Prudhomme car.
If you look carefully, you will
see that the bottom of the key is flattened, slanting up. On
earlier pictures it is round. This is because Greek had a habit
of doing downtrack wheelstands with this car (and others) and
he would put it right on the key and let it stay there. Ultimately
the key got ground off.
Racing Tommy Ivo's Barnstormer
at Pomona. The Greek redlit on this run and Tommy went on to
win the round. This was not by any means the only time these
two faced off against each other. Chris and Tommy match raced
each other in these two cars all over the country in 1963 and
1964 Fuel & Gas Championships.
Chris hooked up with Prudhomme
at Fontana and fortunately it wasn't a title challenge as the
Snake beat the Greek two straight.
team's challenge to the Greeks number 1 spot was answered the
following Sunday at Pomona Drag Strip as Chris appeared for the
heralded two-out-of-three match race. The first round put all
of the day's other races to shame. Both cars left in a bundle
of smoke, but Chizler came up second best. Times? 8.06-188.66
by Norm Weekly, 8.04 -189.46 for Chris.
A capacity crowd had just composed
itself when round two was lined up. Having changed lanes, the
fuelers saw the flag move, and started the tires smoking. Weekly
blasted to a huge lead, but had fouled the lights, and wasted
a strong 8.06 ET. Chris had grabbed the brake, while the slicks
were .smoking, and turned an 8,04 -190.26 for win!
The controversial third race
had the crowd in a quandary. The W-R-F-H rail got airborne about
30 feet out, was completely sideways, and came close to cross
the center line as the engine died. Unaware of what had happened
to Weekly, "the Greek" kept his foot in it, and went
into a wheelstand about half track. He came down and blatantly
crossed the center line, knocked over two pylons, and finished
with 8.41 -179.64. Weekly coasted to a 15.79 at just 51.90 clocking.
It was determined that Weekly
had not crossed the center line, and had thus won the crown on
one of the most spectacular runs in drag racing. Some observers
felt that a rematch would resolve the question (that wasn't a
question) of who had first crossed the line, but the decision
stood. Chris was a sportsman to the end, and looked forward to
his scheduled rematch race with Prudhomme rather than back at
In the pits at Fremont.
Stellings-Hampshire, Jimmy Nix
in Pandemonium V, Wenderski and Winkel, and others warmed up
the Long Beach asphalt at 185 mph on the night of the Chizler's
last California tour appearance. A second crack at the unblemished
Greer Black Prudhomme match race record presented Chris with
an opportunity to return to Chicago with many new California
fans. The Southland crowds are notorious G-B-P rooters and anyone
who could defeat them would be revered. After trial runs of 8.27-189.86,
and 8.36-191.08 by Don Prudhomme and Chris, the winner was a
The 10,000 partisan fans witnessed
a storybook run when, on the first round, Prudhomme's machine
stood straight up and scraped bottom as the Chizler turned sideways
at mid-strip. Chris came out of the smoke to win in 8.99 -179.54,
and got a tremendous ovation for having saved the run. The skeptics
took heart when Don Prudhomme turned a near-perfect 8.20 -192.30
in the Long Beach moisture to grab the second race.
Thus it was, that the third and
final heat was lined up before a full house at nearly 11 p.m.
The undefeated and the unbelievable got off to a perfect start
and were fighting for those precious inches when Prudhomme's
wheels came up at the 400 ft. marker, and he shut off.
Chris had climaxed the tour with
an 8.32 -189.06 win and, true to form, had left spectators breathless
on the way.
The end of this story is that
Chris sold this car to Charlie Proite of Milwaukee shortly before
Labor Day of 1964. Proite renamed the car "Telstar".
Chris got a brand new car from Kent Fuller, another Chizler.
One of the first outings for the Fuller car was at the Cordova
World Series on Labor Day weekend 1964, where the Stuckey car
got even with Chris for selling it, by beating the new Fuller
and putting Chris out of competition. Can you say, Nyah, Nyah,
The fate of the Stuckey car after
going to Proite is unknown. He has no clue where it went after
him and any and all searches for the car have come up empty.
Late in 2005 Ron Johnson, owner
of the Cacklefest.com website and also the 1965 Shubert/Herbert
recreated World's Fastest Chevrolet dragster, heard that Chris
Karamesines was going to take his first dragster out of the Don
Garlits Museum and put it back in the Museum Of Science and Industry
in Chicago. This car, the famous Chizler that went 204 mph in
1960, was a car Johnson was well acquainted with having seen
it numerous times in the Midwest.
Johnson felt that this car needed to be seen by the new generation
of drag race fans and also seen again by the old time race fans
that saw it originally, sometime between 1959 and 1963. So Johnson
arranged to borrow the car and make it a runner and took it on
tour for what he thought would be the last time. The car, joined
by Karamesines at NHRR and CHRR, was a mammoth hit and the Chizler
Tour was fully recounted on Cacklefest.com. The car was returned
to Karamesines at the end of the tour and instead of being put
in the Chicago museum, it ended up in Chris' shop where Chris
made a runner out of it.
The experience left Johnson with a desire to have a Hemi powered
car and he built the Tommy Ivo Barnstormer shortly thereafter.
But, the idea of having a legendary Karamesines "Chizler"
didn't totally disappear. In late 2009, Johnson felt that he
had one more project left to do and he decided that, with agreement
and cooperation from Karamesines, he would recreate the car that
followed the illustrious 204 car. It was built in early 1963
for Karamesines by Rod Stuckey, a Wichita Kansas fabricator who
used the general layout of a Kent Fuller "3-point"
car as inspiration. Johnson had seen this car numerous times
as well and was at Cordova Illinois on Labor Day weekend 1963
when it won the largest nitro drag racing event of the year,
the World Series of Drag Racing.
Coincidentally, one of the fiercest rivalries in match races
throughout the country in 1963 and 1964 was this "Chizler"
and Johnson's other Hemi car, the Tommy Ivo "Barnstormer".
The possibility of being able to display these two old warriors
with their original drivers at a few key events throughout the
country in 2010 was just simply grand.
Johnson presented the idea to Karamesines in October and after
some thought, Chris agreed while competing in Top Fuel at the
NHRA 2009 World Point Finals at Pomona. With no further ado,
here is the project featuring pictures by Johnson.
After Chris decided that he was
in favor of Johnson going ahead with the project, Chris' long
time friend Larry Lones stopped over to Johnson's display. Tommy
Ivo just happened to be there with the Barnstormer and Larry
and Tommy started to reminisce about the days when the Barnstormer
and Chizler were match racing each other across the country.
It sure was good while it lasted. Larry on the right, Ivo on
the left and the man in the middle is really the man in the middle.
Once Johnson got the go ahead
from Chris, at the NHRA Point Finals, he got started in earnest.
The first thing to do was decide who would do the chassis and
for that task he chose Bobby Hansen who got right on the project.
He first ordered the tubing and took what needed to be bent to
Doug Robinson at Horsepower Engineering. Hansen wasted no time
getting the chassis bottom rails laid out on his jig.
12/12/09: Hansen was
making rapid progress.
Here is the new, old
style Donovan welded aluminum clutch can made by Fred Hayhurst.
12/18/09: Bobby had the chassis
(less roll bar) all welded and it fit back into the jig absolutely
perfect. He was ready to mount the engine and rear end that day.
The torsion arms were also due back so he could hang the front
axle. The early style clevis ends for the radius rods were coming
from Don Long.
Doug Robinson had picked up the tubing and the dimensions for
the roll bar and roll hoop due back in a couple of days. As soon
as the engine and rear end are completely mounted, Hansen could
attach the roll bar tubing. Then it's radius rod mounts, clutch
pedal mount, throttle mount, steering mount etc. The body material
and motor plate material were on order.
The trimmed spindle fitted to
the axle. Johnson wanted the laid back axle look, but a lot of
caster makes these beasts impossible to move around. On the Barnstormer
he had Bob Meyer lean the axle back 30 degrees but install the
kingpin boss at 6 degrees. This retains the look but the geometry
is actually pretty mild so the steering is not bad. Meyer did
the same thing with this axle and it is super nice.
Bob Stange (Strange Engineering) supplied one of his early prototype
funny car steering gears for the project. It is very much like
the original Ross/Crosley steering gears that were used in these
cars. It never really got into production according to Meyer,
so it's a rare piece. Johnson also got disc brakes from Strange
and while the original car had stock Olds brakes, they chose
to take liberties where safety is involved here.
With the 50th NHRA Winternationals bash just 2 months off Johnson
had to think about replacing the original Donovan rocker arm
setup he had stolen off his Barnstormer for this car. He contracted
Dave Dewars to make a set of billet aluminum adjustable rocker
arms and stand etc. Crower made a pair of upside down adjustable
pushrods with the necessary cup on the top, but adjusters on
the lifter end. They also set the adjusters where they should
be for minimum deflection. With the length established he could
get new pushrods and put the Barnstormer back together again
and ready for Pomona in February.
12/22/09: Johnson took the Barnstormer
to Fred Hayhurst for him to build the Chizler headers. Barnstormer
and Chizler are almost identical in dimensions, so what fits
one fits the other. He had the pipes and header flanges polished
before hand. This is a real time saver over welding raw pipe
to the unpolished flanges because it is so time consuming polishing
the difficult to reach areas. In this picture the pipes are just
tacked in place, but they look simply grand. Fred is a real whiz
at this because he worked for a header company at one time, and
made headers all day every day. He was even smiling when he got
01/01/10: As the new decade began,
the motor plate was in place, fully bolted, needing only to be
trimmed to the shape of the cowl and belly pan to be finished.
The front motor mount tabs were mounted and tacked. The rear
end was fully mounted, everything is finish welded as is the
pinion support. Hansen was working on the steering. He had the
headers mounted on the left side so he could correctly bend the
pitman arm away from the chassis to have the drag link clear
the headers. He also had the steering gear mocked up in place.
Hansen used the hydroformed can
for line-up purposes because the welded can was at Lenco getting
the in-and-out box fitted. He said that after he welded the rear
axle mount plates to the housing he slid the line-up bar in and
it sipped right into place. This means the housing didn't warp
while being welded upon and he won't have to cut the ends off
and realign them. A good omen for sure.
Installed is the pinion support/anti-rotation
device that they felt was warranted. Overkill, no doubt, but
just like the new Strange heavy duty disc brakes, and Strange
31 spline racing axles, a little extra in the way of safety measures
can't hurt even on a Cacklecar.
The front axle and all brackets
and etc's are done. Bobby hand made the clevises for the radius
rods to make them just like what was used in 1962.
In the mean time, Johnson had gotten the Creitz Engineering hubs
polished and sent off to Jon Hansen who strung them to Boranni
rims. The Avon Speedmasters were then mounted and the front wheels
01/02/10: While the chassis was
progressing on schedule, back in Minnesota Jim Swedberg was picking
up the block, pistons, crank etc. for the Chizlers engine. Everything
had been machined, bored, honed, decked etc. At this point Swedberg
was waiting for Bobby Johansen to ship the Howard rods so the
final clearancing of the block could be done and then a final
cleanup and assembly could commence.
Randy Gribble, a friend of Swedberg's from SoDak. made a Milodon
style oil pan with baffles and trap doors. It is the same thing
that he makes for competition cars, however, due to the close
proximity of the pan and the ground, he tilted the front part
of the bottom of the pan, up a little so it won't dig in if it
hits the ground. Also, he made it strong enough to take some
The plan at this point is for Swedberg and Johnson to meet in
Pueblo, Colorado mid-January and transfer possession of the engine
and his Junior Fueler and also a recently repurchased trailer
and bring everything back here. Worst case scenario that should
leave just over two weeks to drop the motor in and finish up
what ever they haven't anticipated before the Winternationals.
1/7/2010: All the front end stuff
is done, radius rods, drag link, tie rod, torsion arms and caps.
A little finish welding to do before the stuff goes to the chrome
Here's a detail shot of the throttle
pedal and brake cylinder. Due to the fact that there will be
more than one driver, of different sizes, Bobby and Ron wanted
to make the throttle pedal and the clutch pedal adjustable. Here
the throttle is mounted all the way forward, with three sets
of holes farther back to put the throttle as much as three inches
closer to the driver. Actually, the pedal mount is a little tall
and will be lowered some before Bit is done. They are using a
cable throttle and the cable is really trick and will accept
being pushed without binding. The cable is mounted in such a
way that it moves along with the pedal assembly. Much thought
went into this, by Hansen.
The brake cylinder is a new one from Chuck Neal. Here again,
they moved away from old parts for the sake of safety and reliability.
Here is a shot of the clutch
pedal, which is attached directly to the cross shaft in the clutch
can. The pedal is resting against the pitman shaft and there
is an extension bolted to the pedal that can be removed if I
ever get in the car, allowing for long legs. In that case the
extension would just be unbolted and without having to change
any linkage, it will fit most anyone. The pitman arm was bent
out like the original to clear the body and the headers. Hansen
left room so that if they ever want to put zoomies on they can.
Here's a detail shot of the brake
handle mounting and the batteries. Yes, batteries. With these
two Odyssey batteries powering the Meziere starter, the car (like
Barnstormer and Shubert & Herbert) will have all the starter
gear on board all the time. These two gel batteries provide enough
power to easily start the Barnstormer 6-8 times on a single weekend
charge and the engines are virtually identical, same pistons,
bore, stroke, etc. so Chizler should be fine also. This along
with the in-and-out box takes 2/3rds of the monkey business out
of running these cars and with three of them Johnson needs all
the help he can get.
Hansen will make an aluminum tray that bolts to the chassis and
an aluminum cover to hide the batteries and eliminate problems
from having someone step on them.
01/14/10: Here, you can see the
seat is done and the roll-bar in installed. This means the chassis
is all but complete. Johnson took the seat to Dennis Taylor who
is going to do the upholstery. He can get the basic job done
with just the seat and then they will have to stop by and drop
off the whole car for a few hours for him to make the part that
rolls over the shoulder hoop. Hansen will have the rear part
of the body done by Wednesday next week. Then they can do the
final fitting of the starter on the motorplate and a bunch of
other things as Bobby wraps it up by making the nose and front
belly pan. They don't have a lot of extra time but it's looking
okay at this point, to be painted, lettered, running, finished
a week before the Winternationals.
Jewelry. This is the freshly
strung Borranni rim on the Creitz Engineering hub that will soon
hold the Avon Speedmaster front tire. Jon Hansen, one of Johnson's
friends from Junior Fuel has a company that makes custom wire
wheels for race cars and he did these. The tires are not the
same brand as what was on the Chizler, but the hubs and rims
look identical in the pictures they have. The tires are period
correct and were run on many contemporary cars, so they'll go
with them. The hubs have been fitted to the spindles by Bob Meyer
and there should be no issues in getting these on when the time
Jay Carpenter is Ron Johnson's newest best friend. He has a complete
running 354 that he has offered to loan Johnson for the Winternationals
if he can't get his own engine completed. This engine is a "Bad
Boy". They fired it up yesterday, just to make sure that
it is all okay and Ron thought it is one of the most impressive
Cackle engines he have ever heard. It was on 80% and it sounded
like on a run it would roll the track up under the tires. All
it needs to be in the Chizler is the Speed Sport scoop and the
Chizler headers. Hook up fuel lines and the kill switch and they're
Speaking of the scoop... as Rick McDonald and Johnson were approaching
the shop where the engine is currently residing he got a call
from Red Greth asking for an address to ship the scoop to. For
those of you who don't know, Red was one of the original three
owners of the Speed Sport Roadster and the fiberglass scoop that
they designed for their car was replicated by them for a very
few friends. Chris was one of those and he had this type of scoop
on the 204 car as well as this Chizler. What you also wouldn't
know is that Red's wife of 50 odd years, Marge, had a fatal stroke
and passed away about three weeks ago. With all that's on his
plate right now, I had expected Red would not get to Johnson's
silly project, but he did. All we can say is thanks Red!
01/16/10: Johnson was very happy
to get the Speed Sport scoop from Red Greth. This is the last
item he needed that is unique to the car. The rest of the clutch
is completed and he can pick it up Monday. The front end chroming
is all done and it looks fabulous. Bobby figures to have the
back of the body done by Wednesday.
01/20/10: Here is a shot of the
rear of the body, upside down on the work table. It looks pretty
darn nice for Bobby's first attempt at this exact type of body
Here the rear body is mounted
as is the belly pan. As near as they can tell from looking at
the pictures of the car upside down, this follows the lines of
the original very well. Johnson plans to get the tail, belly
pan, cowl and side panels Saturday and take them to the painter.
Then it's just the nose and front belly pan left to do.
01-25-10: The back of
the body is done and at the paint shop.
The front end is all chromed
and is installed so Hansen can build the front belly pan and
nose. They will be painted as soon as they are done. Bob Thompson
stopped by to see how things were coming and he plans to come
over when all the panels are painted, and do the gold leaf lettering.
Dennis Taylor did the
02/03/10: Here's the Swedberg
built 392 in Hansen's shop this morning. Johnson went over to
get it from Jimmy in Phoenix. Rick MacDonald stepped in and helped
me get the engine up to Bobby Hansen's. That's Rick installing
the Crower pedal clutch.
02/04/10: Engine in car, all
bolted down. Friday Johnson will pick up the painted nose and
front belly pan. Once they get the last painted parts it's back
to Azusa again and then to arrange for Bob Thompson to come over
and letter the cowl and nose. They are planning to start it Saturday.
Barring any complications it will be in Pomona next Wednesday.
02/06/10: Bob Thompson, owner
of Team Thompson, did the lettering. Gold Leaf on the nose. Here
he is hard at work Saturday afternoon about 5:00 P. M. He worked
till about 6 and came back this morning and finished the job.
He's a treasure and his willingness to work on the weekend is
appreciated beyond belief. This was a favorite car of his and
he had a number of magazine articles and pictures about it and
he and Bobby and I had a real discussion about exactly what all
the lettering said, as most pictures didn't give a clear look
at the cowl. Thompson finally figured it out, with Bobbies assistance
and they got it 100%.
Here it is just before Bobby
loaded it onto the trailer for it's trip to Rick MacDonalds.
The device on the push bar is a jack pad that they can use in
place of the "Key" pushbar when they need to jack the
back of the car up.
02/08/10: First time with all
the bodywork on, here Chizler is at Rick MacDonalds to get healed
up. Rick pulled the heads and the cam. He found some problems
and is fixing them. A little repair to the rocker arm assembly
and a modification to the camshaft to provide better oiling to
the rockers and they were good to go. The plan is to fire it
tomorrow afternoon. The second trailer from the end is my new
(old) enclosed trailer that I got back from Sweddy. We'll roll
Chizler into that for the trip to Pomona because the weather
is supposed to be a little less than excellent.
02/09/10: Tuesday afternoon about
3:00 P.M.MacDonald was re-installing the camshaft that Donnie
Johannsen found for the car. Here Rick is working out the cam
centerline location and figuring lift and duration. It's about
.598 and close to 300 degrees.
Tuesday night at Rick MacDonalds.
At about 6:00 P.M. the engine was a short block. It was raining
heavy and Ron got an ez-up and they put that up so Rick could
work. He kept at it until late-late to get the assembly completed
and then Wednesday morning started to get ready to fire it and
by the way, this is the same Wednesday that it has to be in the
compound at the Winternationals, 100 miles away, before 4:00
Here it is before we finished
it this morning. They found that the wheels being 15 inch Halibrands
are a little small on the inside for the Strange disc brake setup
and they had to space them out, away from the car, to clear the
calipers. They had tried one yesterday and discovered the problem
and resolved it temporarily, but a long term adjustment will
have to be made. The headers are also temporary, as Johnson didn't
want to fry the chrome weedburners during the tune-in/tune-up
02/10/10: Well, the long and
the short of it is that they fired up the engine in the 99.5%
completed car about Noon today. That's MacDonald priming the
engine, with Kol on the mag switch and Bobby Hansen ready to
duck. It still needs a windshield and Bobby is going to modify
the steering bracket to make it removable for engine installation
and removal. But, the oiling system to the rocker arms isn't
quite right. They seized a couple of rocker arms.
Kol got to Pomona with the car
in the trailer at 3:30 P.M. and they spent the next half hour
putting the chrome headers and the scoop on, and rolled it through
the gate to the compound at about 5 minutes to 4:00. It was still
not running right and Rick had some ideas about what to do and
he and Ron put their heads together and decided on a course of
action. Then Mike Kuhl got involved and their action plan was
demoted. Anyway, between Rick and Mike, they got it done. It
Bill Pitts Magicar, Bobby Hansens
"Wynns Spoiler", Shubert & Herbert, Tommy Ivo Barnstormer,
Chizler V and Joe Passelaquas Smirnoff car.
02/13/10: Chris' 16 year old
granddaughter Christa was in the car for a cackle on Saturday
morning. The whole family was there to watch. They all seemed
to enjoy it. Christa was thrilled to be in Grandpa's car!
Here they are getting Dusty McWilliams
suited up for the very first push start.They were about halfway
down the shut-off area at the intermediate turn-out. Rick and
Mike Kuhl spent some time on the tune-up earlier and got it banging
on all eight, all the time. The push start went fine.They were
all ready for Sunday.
02/14/10: Prior to the Cacklefest
all the cars paraided past the SRO grandstands of the fabled
Here is the Motley Crew. Tom
Ivo, Ron Johnson, Chris Karamesines and Zane Shubert. The three
cars and drivers were positioned last in the parade and Cacklefest,
except for Garlits who was the final car. Talk about history!
Chris and Tommy raced against each other in these cars in the
1964 event. Zane was here that year as well. The Shubert/Herbert
car ran against Garlits in 1965 Winternationals.
Bob Thompson, the sign painter
and letterer, is a huge fan of The Greek and wanted to paint
a helmet like one Chris wore back in the mid 60's. This is it.
He also painted the little drivers head brake handle to match.
Results positive. The operation
was competed successfully, on time and under, um, ah, well, on
time anyway. Here's Chris with the engine running, all systems
go and barking like a mad dog on the way to the starting line
at the 50th Winternationals where the original car ran in 1964.
Last November, after Chris said
he was okay with the recreation, Johnson told Steve Gibbs he
had a "GO" signal. He said it was a shame that that
car wouldn't be ready fom the Golden 50 at the Winternationals,
so Chris would have a car to be in. Johnson said he didn't see
any reason why they couldn't make that happen. It took a couple
of weeks to get the planets into alignment and then they started.
From the time the very first piece of pipe went onto the chassis
jig, to when they rolled the car into the display area at the
Winternationals was 61 days. And they used every one of the last
20, Sundays and all. Plus Bobby Hanson had jury duty in there
and took a few days for Christmas and New Years.
The end of the project was flawless. The weekend at Pomona was
all that could be expected. The car won an award and the reaction
of people to it was overwhelming. The Karamesines family and
crew were delighted to see the car and have it breath again.
The Milwaukee racer who bought the car from Chris in 1964 and
renamed it Telstar, Chuck Proite, stopped by on Saturday and
spent a half-hour or more. He was almost teary-eyed to see it
They have a few things to fix and/or redo, but that's pretty
minimal. They'll get some done right away and be ready for the
The list of people who had a hand in this project is pretty awesome.
In no particular order, they are, Bobby Hansen and Jim Swedberg,
Bob Meyer, Red Greth, Fred Hayhurst, Tim Pombert, Dennis Taylor,
Juan Vargara, Bob Stange, Gary Sumek, JC Cascio, Roger LeVine,
Ed Iskendarien, Chris Karamesines, Paul Savage, Bob Thompson,
Doug Robinson, Gary Hultgren, Randy Gribble, Donnie Johannsen,
Dave Dewars, Robert Reehl, Pat O'Neil, Bobby Johannsen, Jon Hansen,
Tim Cope, Paul Schavrien, Joe Anderson, Dennis Friend, Jack Brady,
Rod McCarroll, Stan Weber, Don Ewald, John Ewald, Jay Carpenter
and at the end, the thrashing crew of Rick MacDonald, Bill Pitts
and John Weidler. Then there's Johnson's family, his grandson
Jeff and his two daughters Connie and Christine and son Kol who
all stepped in at the very end and helped him make their part
of the event happen. Ron is almost certain to have left someone
out, if so he apologizes and will add the name to the list. Of
course, this project would never even have seen the light of
day if it weren't for the support and encouragement of his wife,
Linda. Thanks to one and all.