Three generations of nitro racing courses through the veins of the vibrant and ambitious Krista Baldwin, who joined legendary grandfather Chris “the Greek” Karamesines and late father Bobby Baldwin among the ranks of Top Fuel pilots when she earned her competition license in Karamesines’ dragster during Monday testing following the St. Louis event in October.
“The whole experience was quite crazy,” Baldwin describes. “At the end of 2019, we decided it was time to make the transition. Of course, we had huge plans starting with Charlotte this spring when the whole world turned upside down and we couldn’t do it. After a lot of months, we were able to get it done in St. Louis. It was such a momentous occasion. I’m super proud that I was able to do it and to be able to do it with him.”
The tidal wave of emotions continued with the bittersweet moment of Karamesines concluding his one-of-a-kind driving career at the NHRA Finals in Las Vegas, making his final pass in the first round opposite Leah Pruett.
“For him to say he was actually going to retire was quite a whirlwind,” says Baldwin. “When he did the burnout against Leah Sunday morning in Las Vegas, I had a tear in my eye.”
Baldwin expresses gratitude that Karamesines was able to end his run with a quality race car with the help of the Capco Contractors and Don Schumacher Racing teams, including hands-on help in Indy from Bobby and Dom Lagana, Jake Sanders, Katie Buttera, and Baldwin’s boyfriend, Bobby Lane. She looks forward to her turn behind the wheel next season.
“I believe we’re going to try to start the year in Gainesville,” says Baldwin. “That is such a historic event, especially for him, that it will be fun to debut at the track that he’s most frequented.”
She also has unfinished business with the A/Fuel dragster that she acquired from Anthony Dicero.
“I’ll jump into the A/Fuel car a couple times to stay in sync,” says Baldwin. “I still want to win that Wally before I give up. I’ve had a great couple years in Top Alcohol Dragster and made some wonderful friends. I would not change it for the world.”
Baldwin balances her racing ambitions with working for Paul Lee, who finished in the top 10 in Funny Car standings this season. Lee appointed Baldwin to the Creative Director position at McLeod Racing and FTI Performance, and she also serves in a team management role for his Global Electronic Technology-sponsored team.
“I can’t thank Paul enough for believing in me, providing a totally kickass job, and helping me on the racing side,” says Baldwin. “He’s a huge mentor, and he helps me both with driving and the mechanics of the car and with the business side.”
The sky is the limit for Baldwin as she embarks on her Professional debut in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.
“I’m super excited to see what the future holds,” says Baldwin. “I definitely relish the fact that I get to be involved in this awesome, extreme, 10,000-horsepower sport and do it with my family.”