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Chris Karamesines met Don Maynard at the ATAA World Series of Drag Racing at Cordova, IL the weekend before Labor Day 1957. Chris was a member of the Schlitzers (Schlitz was a popular Midwestern beer brand brewed in nearby Milwaukee) Car Club from South Chicago. The club helped staff the starting and staging areas at this race. Maynard was a member of the Lords Car Club from Tucson and one of the owners of the already famous Speed Sport Roadster. The two entered into a racing partnership and became good friends. Not long after, they built the Chizler with tubing and bends purchased from Scotty Fenn at Chassis Research. The car was originally built with a carbureted 354 Chrysler. By 1959 a supercharger and injection had been added and the car was a full fledged top fuel car.

Which brings us to the subject car at hand. There was a time in our history when the best number crunchers in the country declared that it was "impossible" for a piston powered vehicle to go 200 MPH from a standing start in a quarter mile. And for a long time it looked like they may have been right. That is until April 24, 1960 when "The Greek" and Maynard unloaded an incredible 204 MPH speed at Alton Dragway.

Disclaimer: Although we have given photo credits when known, there are some that remain anonymous. If anyone knows who took the uncredited photos, let us know.


Here is the earliest pictures of the Chizler that we are aware of. Phil Hobbs of Hirata/Hobbs fame took these at Onondaga Michigan in 1959. Notice the front wheel, the tire says John Bull and the hubs have a funny flange shape. These are the wheels and tires that are on the car now.


The car initially ran with 8 carburetors on Nitro. The rear wheels are also identical to what was on the car when it came out of the Museum. We had to substitute a different pair of wheels because the bolt pattern was wrong for the rear end Alex Mikkelsen installed at American Roadsters.


On the left, a very young Don Maynard, George Schreiber and an equally youthful Chris Karamesines. The year, 1959 and the location, possibly looking south in the pits at Union Grove near Racine, Wisconsin. Schreiber was the Greek's brother in law and part owner of the car until he went into the army.


Don Maynard in early 1959, at what looks to be Route 30 near Gary Indiana . Note it still has the square scoop on the injector. Later in the year, they returned to Route 30 for the Meet of Champions and split top eliminator money with Speed Sport when the event was called because of darkness.


These next two shots were taken by "Slatts" Nelson at Oswego, where Slatts was track Photographer.


Note that the car had better lettering and an interim scoop, more rounded than the original square design, but less artistic than the Speed Sport scoop soon to be added.


Riverside Raceway in Dec. 1959. The 162 car along side is Chuck Jones' Sidewinder II, driven by Jack Chrisman, with very little success.


Another shot from Riverside in Dec. 1959. This was the first of many pilgrimages to the West Coast. Note the addition of the "Speed Sport" blower scoop and the header style that the car "wore" most of the time after this. Over the winter the car was lengthened, the rear end was moved forward and the chassis painted Black.


Bakersfield at the March Meet. Over the winter the car was lengthened, the rear end was moved forward and the chassis painted Black. You can readily see the changes if you compare this picture with those above. A parachute has been added also and in order for the push board not to contact the chute, an additional upright has been added to the push bar on the car.
Doug Peterson Photo


It is believed this was taken at Alton just before "The Run".



This would have been in 1960 prior to about August when they stretched the car. They towed with 57-8 Chrysler 300's, note one to the right in the picture. Don Maynard leaning on the engine, Greek behind car.





The Drag Racing world is still divided into two camps. Believers and skeptics. However, when the car was removed from the Garlits Museum in March 2006, Don said it was the first car to go over 200! If Garlits believes it, it was undoubtedly a fact!


Greek in the car in the luxurious pits at Alton Dragway.


This is a Christmas card from Bobby Langley's photo album that he got from Chris and Don in 1960.


The Greek at Great Lakes Dragway in May of 1960.


Here we see the Chizler and the Swamp Rat down by the finish line at Union Grove, as they wait for the signal to begin the push start process."
Norbe Locke photo


The Greek and Garlits raced twice on the day. Once for A/FD and once for Top Eliminator. This is the race for A/FD.


This was the annual Memorial Day event where all the top Fuel dragsters from east of the Rockies congregate.
Norb Locke Photos



Art Malone driving Don Garlits "Swamp Rat" vs. Chris "The Greek" Karamesines Top Eliminator Title run, Union Grove, Memorial Day, 1960. On this day, the Swamp Rat took home the Cheese!
Photo by Ron Johnson



The article above has a very thorough explanation of the components that went into the car. Note they used a stroker crank to reach 442 cubes and used aluminum rods when most fuel cars were running junkyard short blocks! They were also among the first to "blueprint" a top fuel motor. This level of attention to detail might explain why they ran so well and rarely broke. It was seldom, indeed, that they were unable to return for another round of competition!


The picture above and the next four were taken by Ron Johnson at Minnesota Dragway in June and July of 1960. Chris and Don autographed the one above on their next trip to Minnesota.






Also from the Langley Scrapbook - Chris with Jack and Judy Langley. They aren't kids anymore. That is Bobby Langley's "Scorpion" on the right. This was taken in June of 1960 at Minnesota Dragways.



This shot was also taken at Minnesota Dragway, photographer unknown. At some point after the above pictures were taken a rectangular Valvoline decal was added to each side of the nose.


This shot and the one below were taken at the Oswego, IL track owned by the Smith Brothers. Above, left to right Al Thompson of Al's Speed Shop, Ron Leek, who would go on to become the owner of Rockford Dragway, Bud Roche, fellow Schlitzers Car Club member and 1/3rd of Bud, Don and John "Guzler" fame. On the right are Chris and Don. This track may have been considered the "Home Track" for the Chizler which appeared there regularly.
Photos by Slatts



Between rounds maintenance out of the trunk of the push car, as was the norm of the time. Their pit area was wherever they chose to stop to do the work. This shot was taken by Norbe Locke at Oswego. The tall guy with the crew cut and the camera, leaning against the rear door of the push car, is track photographer "Slatts" Nelson.


"The Greek Ready to do Business" 1960
Mark Haefs photo


Three shots from Sanford, Maine




Every year from 1957, the World Series of Drag Racing has been held at Cordova the weekend before Labor Day. You will note in the list of Champions above, Neil Leffler won in 1960. Leffler was a partner with John Loukas in the Leffler/Loukas Competition Coupe.


In this shot Loukas is on the left and Larry Jones is on the right behind the Chizler at Detroit in spring 1961 during a match race the Garlits/Swingle Swamp Rat III.


Some of the heavy hitters posed for this group shot at the 1960 AHRA Nationals in Kansas City. From left to right, Art Malone & Al Williams, Bobby Langley, Bob Sullivan, Don Garlits and Chris Karamesines. These cars were, arguably, at the top of the class of Fuelers east of the Rockies.
Photos by Slatts


Another view of the group. Karamesines on the far right, a youthful Art Malone with hands on hips in the center.


The shots above and below were taken (the same) weekend by Pete Garramone.


Below is a shot of the car, brought back to Minnesota Dragways in September 1960 to check out the effect of another chassis stretch. This one was about 12-15 inches. The radius rod formerly extended right to the leading edge of the belly pan. See picture above for reference.


Don Maynard looking for his pushcar.


Business card (front & back) circa 1960


The shop on 68th Place in South Chicago. A new nose has been built for the car which is now in it's final configuration.


In the picture above the new radius rods have been added, replacing the hairpin style which were used up until this point. Note also that the "Speed Sport" scoop and two-port Hilborn injector is gone,having been replaced with a Four-port Hilborn and traditional Hilborn scoop.


This picture was taken at Fremont and a new Speed Sport scoop has been added to the four-port Hillborn.


A very rare (maybe the only one) shot of the two Karamesines & Maynard 1960 project cars. The very lightly raced behemoth twin (from the mind of Don Maynard) and the featured 204 Car. Maynard drove the twin in its three on track appearances.
Mark Haefs photo from TwoToGo.com


Brian Beattie Photo


This is the latest (1962) photo anyone has seen of the 204 car in action. It is at San Gabriel and The Greek is squared off with "TV Tommy" Ivo in his brand new (at the time) "Barnstormer" fueler. Ironacally, the Karamesines car had the nose removed and the Ivo car had yet to have a nose piece built.




The end of this story is that Chris sold this car to Charlie Proite of Milwaukee shortly before Labor Day of 1964. Chris got a brand new car from Kent Fuller, another Chizler. Proite ran the car a few times with the Chizler name on the nose and then was requested (!!!) by the Greek to remove the name. Proite and team studies the situation and wanting to accomplish this as inexpensively as possible decided to sand off the name Chizler and rename the car. They looked at the big Z in the middle of the name and realized they’d have to copy that style and since the recent space efforts were in the news decided to rename the car Telstar, with a BIG S in TelStar. That’s what they did. It ran this way for some time and then was repainted a deep Burgundy and relettered in Lilac, as best the picture discloses. TelStar won the 1965 World Series at Cordova and along the way, the former Chizler extracted a measure of revenge by putting the Greeks Fuller car on the trailer in the semi’s. In the final, TelStar met Tom Hoover and put him on the trailer too. Proite was suddenly $2500 richer.

The fate of the Stuckey car after it’s history with Proite is unknown. He has no clue where it went after him and any and all searches for the car have come up empty.



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