It’s with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Art Chrisman. Art was a craftsman and competitor to the utmost degree; he dedicated nearly 70 years to building racecars and hot rods that were as beautiful as they were fast.

Art Chrisman

Art Chrisman
Hot rodding pioneer passes at 86.

Photo courtesy of Marc Gewertz

Art removes the cowl on the Reed Brothers' '29 Model A in front of the Chrisman & Sons' Garage in Compton, California. He drove the roadster into the 10s in the late-'50s. Photo courtesy of Greg Sharp.

Art removes the cowl on the Reed Brothers’ ’29 Model A in front of the Chrisman & Sons’ Garage in Compton, California. He drove the roadster into the 10s in the late-’50s. Photo courtesy of Greg Sharp.

Art caught the racing bug out on the Southern California dry lakes, but it wasn’t long before he found his niche on the dragstrip in his flathead powered “No. 25.” Behind the wheel, he was the first to pilot a drag car to 140mph in the quarter-mile. That was only the beginning for Art, who went on to campaign a record-setting, mid-engined Model A coupe with his brother Lloyd in the mid-’50s and later the highly successful “Hustler I” dragster with partner Frank Cannon. In this car, Chrisman won the first March Meet in ’59 and was the first to break 180mph in competition.

Art’s restored Hustler I wasn’t just a museum piece—he regularly made full-track passes at the Fremont Nostalgia Drags. We captured Art smoking the tires at Baylands Raceway back in May 1986.

Art’s restored Hustler I wasn’t just a museum piece—he regularly made full-track passes at the Fremont Nostalgia Drags. We captured Art smoking the tires at Baylands Raceway back in May 1986.

Once his racing days came to a close, Chrisman worked for Autolite, ForgedTrue Pistons and Ed Pink before ultimately starting Chrisman Auto Rods Specialties (C.A.R.S.) with his son, Mike. They built a string of precisely engineered, high-powered hot rods, two of which have been featured on the cover of The Rodder’s Journal (#9 and #34). Last fall, Art accepted the Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award at the SEMA show.

Thank you for everything you’ve done for our sport, Art. You’ll be missed. We send our condolences to the Chrisman family and hot rodders around the world.