Art Chrisman, one of the founding fathers of NHRA Drag Racing and a member of one of the sport’s legendary families, died July 12. He was 86. Chrisman, in his famed #25 dragster, was the first drag racer to exceed 140 and 180 mph and the first winner at the Bakersfield U.S. Fuel & Gas Championships in 1959. The familiar #25 cemented its place in the history books as the first car to make a pass at the 1955 Nationals in Great Bend, Kan., NHRA's first national event. Chrisman took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, then made the opening lap of the race. Chrisman was partners with Leroy Neumeyer on the #25 car. When Neumeyer was drafted to fight in the Korean War, Chrisman began to race the machine, which would become one of the most celebrated cars in drag racing history. Racing was clearly in the family's blood. Chrisman's uncle, the late Jack Chrisman, won Top Eliminator titles at the first Winternationals and at the 1962 U.S. Nationals. In 1964, Jack was the first driver to wheel a blown and injected nitro-burning Funny Car. Jack's son, Steve, was a competitive alcohol and nitro Funny Car racer in the 1980s. Chrisman also was one of five charter members of the Bonneville 200-mph Club after driving Chet Herbert's Beast streamliner past the double-century mark (and eventually up to 235 mph) in 1952. The next year, the Chrismans' homebuilt coupe reached near-200-mph speeds. (Above) Art Chrisman's #25 dragster is one of the most famous in the sport's history and made the first pass at the 1955 Nationals in Great Bend, Kan. (Below) The follow-up, the Hustler I, also was a spectacular machine. In 1958, as #25 was beginning to show its age and a new breed of dragster, the slingshot, was beginning to make its mark, the Chrismans, along with Frank Cannon, built their famed Hustler I dragster, which immediately won the Best Engineered Car award at the 1958 Nationals. The car, powered by a blown 392-cid Chrysler engine stroked out to 454 inches, appeared on the cover of the January 1959 issue of Hot Rod magazine and a month later recorded the sport's first 180-mph run with a 181.81 blast on the back straight of Riverside Raceway and used those runs as a catalyst to win the Smokers Meet in Bakersfield. Chrisman ran that car through the end of the 1962 season, scoring Top Fuel runner-ups at the 1960 and 1961 Bakersfield races, then went to work for Ford Motor Co.'s Autolite Spark Plug Division, which put an end to his racing career. Chrisman, who with his son, Mike, founded Chrisman Auto Rod Specialties to build and restore hot rods, restored Hustler I to 1962 vintage in the mid-1980s and made full quarter-mile smoking runs for the fans.