Shumake makes headway on funny car license

Travis Shumake made several passes at the Texas Motorplex on Sunday afternoon as he prepared for his Funny Car license. (Photo by Shumake)

DALLAS – Second-generation drag racer Travis Shumake, 37, has taken another big step forward in pursuit of his dream of becoming a professional NHRA Funny Car driver as he goes into the record books as the fastest LGTBQ + driver in all professional motorsport.

Under the guidance of two-time NHRA champion and driver and crew chief Del Worsham, Shumake made several stints at the Texas Motorplex on Sunday to begin the process of obtaining his professional Funny Car license. On his last run of the day, the unsponsored driver completed a full engine pass in 4,009 seconds at 319.62 mph.

Once the process is complete, Shumake will become the first openly gay professional drag racer in the sport. The New York City resident will be eligible to race on any NHRA sanctioned track or participate in any NHRA national event driving a Funny Car loaded with 11,000 horsepower.

“My goal was to have this license in hand at the end of the day, but I don’t see it as a major setback,” said Shumake. “I crossed the center line, disqualifying a critical pass, and we ran out of time at the end of the day. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made today with this phenomenal team.

Travis’s father, Tripp, started drag racing in the late 1960s, but rose to national stardom in the late 1970s and early 1980s driving one of Johnny Loper’s Funny Cars. It secured a spot at the Cragar Five-Second Club and the Crane Cams Funny Car 250-mph Club. Tripp Shumake has appeared in three Funny Car Finals and won two – the 1981 Southern Nationals in Atlanta and the 1982 World Finals in Orange County, California. Young Shumake reflected on what his late father would have thought of his efforts.

“My dad would have been furious if I hit those blocks and damaged the body,” Shumake said. “He would have told me to lower the gas faster. My dad was also known to hold the throttle down and he was on fire a lot. Tripp Shumake was always on fire, and that’s because he never let go of the accelerator on race day. Maybe my enthusiastic training in the other lane was a genetic thing. Hope I impressed him with my consistent reaction times throughout the day.

In addition to her father’s important drag racing career, Shumake’s mother Susie was a fixture on the circuit and was recently inducted into the Arizona Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2018. The young Shumake always felt the urge to get behind the wheel and compete. at the highest level like his father.

“The milestone of overtaking my father’s top speed in his career was important to me. His fastest speed was 285 mph which he raced here at the Texas Motorplex, ”said Shumake. “Running over 319 mph with him on board really choked me. Inside the race car we affixed a button with a picture of my dad as John Force, 16 times Funny Car World Champion. , wore the race after my dad died. My dad had never driven 300mph, so John took him running with him to break that barrier. I used that same button today to go to 319 mph I’m excited for what’s to come in Las Vegas at the end of the month I’m determined to complete this chapter of the story and get my license for next season.

Drag racing has long been a leader in diversity with female, African American and Hispanic world champions.

“Today is National Coming Out Day,” said Shumake. “Surpassing the speed of other LGBTQ + drivers and legends in F1, IndyCar and NASCAR was especially exciting given the positive moment we’ve seen for gay athletes in the sport this year. I’m sure there are a lot of riders who feel held back from pursuing their passion for motorsports because these waters haven’t been tested.

“I can’t do it without funding. This is the biggest piece of the puzzle I have to solve. Business support for the LGBTQ + community should also be represented at the racetrack. Bringing new fans and sponsors to the world’s fastest growing motorsport is a win-win solution for everyone involved. Now is the time to show the world that there is a place for gay competitors and fans in motorsport.

The goal is to finalize immediate sponsorship opportunities, complete the Funny Car nitro license and make their professional debut in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

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Larry Struck

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