Travis Shumake Completes Funny Car Licenses With 3.96 Las Vegas Explosion

Second-generation Funny Car driver Travis Shumake completed all of the steps necessary to obtain his NHRA Funny Car license during races Monday at the Las Vegas Strip Motor Speedway. If his papers are approved by the NHRA, Shumake, 37, will become the first openly gay runner authorized by the NHRA.

Shumake began the licensing process at Texas Motorplex in mid-October, posting an impressive 4,009-second run at 319.62 mph. The New York City resident needed another run in NHRA performance metrics to formalize the process. His first Monday run of 3.963 seconds at 304.05 mph was enough to meet licensing requirements.

“The pressure I put on myself in Dallas was intense. Coming in today, I knew I had to relax for this to happen, ”said Shumake, moments after returning to his feed zone after his first stint. “As soon as I got attached, I knew it would be racing. For it to happen with a pass under four seconds and for Force, DeJoria, Hagan, Worsham and Pedregon to sign my license application made it even more special.

On its second pass, running in the right lane, Shumake’s Funny Car crossed the center line and hit the left guard wall. The left side of the race car absorbed most of the damage, and Shumake immediately exited through the roof hatch on his own. Following the incident, Shumake went to the University Medical Center and was assessed before being released after five hours of observation with only two cracked ribs on his left side.

“I got out of the furrow and corrected too much to the left. I should have got up earlier. I cut the center cone which damaged the body and got into the steering. I tried to pull it out but hit the left wall at 298 mph, ”Shumake said. “The impact caused a small fire, but the car and my safety gear did their job. My first priority is fixing the car. A few broken ribs don’t compare to the pain and discomfort I feel for damaging Del’s car and dropping the team and the people who have done so much for me.

The aspiring Funny Car driver will be back in the seat making some extra passes with Frank Hawley in his Funny Car nostalgia as soon as he’s cleared by the NHRA medical team.

“As a completely unsponsored Funny Car driver, I need to find funding,” Shumake said. “I plan to spend the offseason working on offers that will help me develop both my team and my skills as a driver behind the wheel of a Nostalgia or a Drunken Funny Car. I just need a business or person to believe in me to keep this dream alive.

Travis’s dad, 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 has made three Funny Car Finals and won two, at the 1981 Southern Nationals in Atlanta and the 1982 World Finals in Orange County, Calif., Driving Billy Meyer. With the first major goal achieved, young Shumake reflected on what his late father would have thought of his efforts.

Shumake’s sister, Heather, was on the track and hooked up Travis and mom Susie via FaceTime after her license run. The support of his family was essential to the advancement of Shumake’s early racing career.

“Not having my family around was one of Dallas’ downsides. It was hard not to have a support system there, ”said Shumake. “I knew I was going to do it in Vegas, so I wanted my sister and my partner here to celebrate with me. I was lucky they were there after the incident to help coordinate things and just to hold my hand in the hospital. It’s a family sport and we run as a family.

NHRA Drag Racing has long been a leader in diversity with female, African American and Hispanic world champions. Once his license is approved, Shumake will be the first openly gay driver to compete at the highest level of any professional motorsport.

“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, ”said Shumake.

Shumake continues to meet with potential sponsors to help secure siege time and identify a championship-caliber team. The goal now is to finalize immediate sponsorship opportunities and make his professional debut in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

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