March 12, 2021 – Krista Baldwin, granddaughter of long-time NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series racer Chris Karamesines, is scheduled to make her Top Fuel Dragstger professional debut at the season-opening Gatornationals March 12-14 at Gainesville, Fla.
Baldwin, 27, will pilot her grandfather’s Don Schumacher Racing canopy dragster.
Baldwin is no newcomer to racing, as for the past five years, she has driven a McLeod Racing dragster in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing series with team owner Anthony Dicero. This year, she will drive for her 89-year-old grandfather, Karamesines, who retired as a Top Fuel pilot at the end of the 2020 season.
Karamesines’ racing career dates back to the mid-1950s.
“Making the transition to Top Fuel challenged me in ways that I never thought it could,” Baldwin said. “It showed me to be resilient and to stay true to who I am and what I want to do. Top Fuel is the dream and I’ve worked tirelessly for years to get to this point and I’m so proud that I get to race with my grandpa. I will admit I’m pretty nervous, but I know when the engine fires up and they close that canopy that I’ll be ready for it.”
Krista Baldwin, left, and 89-year-old racing veteran Chris Karamesines
Baldwin’s father, Bobby Baldwin, raced from the late 1980s to 2001. He died from a brain aneurysm at the age of 53.
“Some days I wish my life were different and that my dad was still here,” Baldwin said. “But this is how life dealt me my cards and I’m going to make the absolute best of it. I know that he’s watching and I know that I’m doing something that he loved and he would be supportive of. He even raced with my grandpa a few times and it will be very full circle when I jump in the car this week.”
To honor her father, Kristia will race with her father’s old Top Fuel competition number, T/F 725.
Baldwin is supported this season from friend, mentor and veteran racer Paul Lee. Baldwin is the creative director of McLeod Racing and FTI Performance as well as a general manager on Lee’s nitro funny car team.
“I’m happy to see Krista fulfilling her dreams of driving Top Fuel, following in her dad’s and granddad’s footsteps,” said Paul Lee, owner of McLeod Racing and FTI Performance. “She’s worked extremely hard in making this dream come true. She lives and breathes drag racing and that’s what it takes to be successful. Whether it’s her job at McLeod and FTI, or managing my Funny Car team, she gives it 100%. She excels in all her positions, and she is part of our family. Since we are a family-oriented business and race team, we love helping her pursue her dreams.”
The Karamesines/Baldwin entry will be tuned by long-time family friends Bobby and Dom Lagana. Lagana is returning to the track after losing his legs in a single-car crash last year.