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SEMA and Art Chrisman


I know I’m a little behind the curve on this one, regarding my pal and friend Art Chrisman who passed July 12th, 2016, at the young age of 86 years. He, as you know, was one of the founding fathers of NHRA Drag Racing, as well as the patriarch to one of its legendary families—hard core all the way through!

My father and I saw his famed #25 car exceed 140 and 180 mph to be the first winner at the Bakersfield U.S. Fuel and Gas Championships in 1959. Then came the Hustler and the man became legend, one of the true breed of men that command respect without a word spoken. Like all the John Wayne characters rolled into one guy!

 Art Chrisman laughing
Here’s a great photo by yours truly of Art Chrisman at his best, “LAUGHING” with Tom Prufer in my office in 2012.
New SO-CAL Speed Shop Las Vegas, 1020 Brush St. Las Vegas, NV  702.651.1932. (Lenny Sr. or Jr.)

I met Art in the ‘80s when he started using Pete & Jake’s parts on projects at his hot rod shop. Imagine my elation, Art Chrisman buying parts from Jake and me. Rest in peace, my friend.

SEMA 2016 was a blast. It was really busy, especially with Brad Fanshaw and the guys from our Shift and Steer podcast, Matt D’Andria and Aaron Hagar. Go ahead, pick an adjective: unbelievable, incredible, amazing, astonishing, great, enormous, mindboggling, extraordinary—they all just barely describe the 2016 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Marketing Association) Show.

Seriously, I’ve been attending since 1973, back in the days of the Anaheim Convention Center, and I’ve never experienced anything the likes of this year’s gathering! How do I know it was huge? Because I was at ground zero in the The Shift and Steer studio based in the “Oh too Cool” Derale booth, hosted by good friend and Derale jefe, Tom Longo. (Thanks, Tom, it was sweet!)

Shift and Steer boys hard at it interviewing TV Star, Chasing Classic Cars,’ Wayne Carini; great guy, fun and a very savvy car guy!! (L to R, Matt D’Andria, Me, Host Brad Fanshaw, Wayne Carini and Aaron Hagar.)
(L to R Me, Bobby Alloway, Alan Johnson, Gene Winfield, Troy Trepanier and Roy Brizio
Now this was a blast…the 2016 HRIA Hot Rod Builders Panel, one hour of one-upmanship!! (L to R Me, Bobby Alloway, Alan Johnson, Gene Winfield, Troy Trepanier and Roy Brizio.

While attending SEMA I had to stop by the new SO-CAL Speed Shop, the Las Vegas store—or get shot by owners, the Ribaudo family. The store is really nice and just across the strip from the convention center. Lenny Sr. and Jr., report a lot of traffic (and not only during SEMA week). The store has become a tourist destination, especially for our Asian friends. The store is a well stocked “speed shop” in every sense of the word and carries everything from engine parts to sheet metal for Mustangs, pickups and Chevys. The best of luck with that new property!

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the February 2017 print issue of the Drive Magazine.