Art Chrisman, NHRA pioneer, dead at 86

Legendary NHRA drag racer Art Chrisman died on July 12. He was 86 years old.

Chrisman, nephew of the great Jack Chrisman, holds a handful of firsts in the sport, including being the first dragster driver to go over 140 mph and 180 mph, and the first to go down the strip at the first NHRA Nationals in Great Bend, Kansas. He was also the fifth member of the Bonneville 200 club -- drivers who hit the double century mark at the Salt Flats -- which now features hundreds of members.

Chrisman was best known for his No. 25 car, with his partner Leroy Neumeyer. In fact, Chrisman only started driving the car after Neumeyer was drafted to fight in the Korean War.

Chrisman's Hustler I slingshot dragster, with a supercharged 392-cubic-inch Chrysler engine, won the Best Engineered Car award at the 1958 Nationals, before gracing the cover of Hot Rod Magazine in 1959. That was the car in which he first hit 180 mph -- actually, 181.81 mph at Riverside Raceway.

Later Chris man went on to work at Ford's Autolite Spark Plug Division, before founding Chrisman Auto Rod Specialties with his son Mike.

Art Chrisman's #25 dragster

Chrisman's familiar No. 25 was the first car to run in Great Bend, Kansas, at the inaugural Nationals, NHRA's first national event in 1955. Photo by NHRA


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