Travis Shumake Continues Historic Journey To Obtain Funny Car License

Photos of Bob Szelag

Second-generation drag racer Travis Shumake, 37, took another big step forward in pursuit of his dream of becoming a professional NHRA Funny Car driver on Monday.

Shumake, son of famed 1970s and 1980s Funny Car Driver Tripp Shumake, completed several stints under the direction of two-time NHRA World Champion Driver and Crew Chief Del Worsham to begin the process of obtaining his Funny Professional License. Because. In his last race of the day, the unsponsored driver completed a full engine pass in 4,009 seconds at 319.62 mph, accelerating into the record books as the fastest LGTBQ + driver of all motorsport. professionals.

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

“My goal was to have this license in hand at the end of the day, but I don’t see that as a major setback. I crossed the center line disqualifying a critical pass and we ran out of time at the end of the day, ”said Shumake. “I’m happy with the progress I’ve made today with this phenomenal team. I hope to bring some potential sponsors to the final races of the season so they will have the chance to watch me in action if I can get back to the seat to complete the last pass I need for my license in Vegas or Pomona. .

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 has made three Funny Car Finals and won two, the 1981 Southern Nationals in Atlanta and the 1982 World Finals in Orange County, California. At the end of the day, 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. All Throughout his life, Shumake always felt the urge to get behind the wheel. and compete at the highest level like his father. Having a good run in his last pass was also satisfying for Shumake.

“The milestone of exceeding my father’s top speed in 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. Overtaking 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, ”said Shumake.

Shumake continues to meet with potential sponsors to help secure siege time and identify a championship-caliber team. 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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