Driver prepares to make NHRA history at Heartland Motorsports

Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 4:57 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The National Hot Rod Association nationals competition this weekend is always a big draw, but this year one driver will make history. Travis Shumake is no stranger to drag racing.

“A lot of my family is used to seeing my dad win drag races for decades and now they’re watching me so it’s a different amount of pressure but also excitement,” said Shumake.

Shumake’s father sadly died in a motorcycle accident 2 decades ago, but Travis says he is ready to continue in his father’s footsteps.

“I took a twenty year gap from drag racing and 2 years ago during quarantine, instead of learning how to make sourdough, I decided to get my drag racing license and have been working my way up the different categories up to this national event debut,” Shumake said.

Shumake’s debut also makes history and he will become the NHRA’s first openly gay drag racer. He says it’s not the first time this sport has been a pioneer.

“We had the first African American female and Hispanic world champions in the 70s,” said Shumake, “so drag racing is not only the fastest sport in the world, it’s by far the most diverse and I’m just another layer in that cake.”

Pride Kansas and Visit Topeka are sponsoring Shumake for the event. Visit Topeka says they jumped at the opportunity.

“This was just a way to kind of put our money where our mouth is so to speak and show that we are willing to step up and point to this model of inclusivity, which is Travis Shumake,” said India Yarborough with Greater Topeka Partnership. “It’s a big deal for Topeka and we are very excited to be able to sponsor him.”

Despite his 20-year break between races, Shumake is confident his Kansas car can get the job done.

“It’s one of the best cars in the world. So this Kansas-based Randy Meyer Racing has won five world championships. It’s got the most wins at this race track. So as long as I do my part, I have a pretty good chance at going late into Sunday and making it to the final rounds.”

To find out more about this weekends NHRA event, click here. Shumake is grateful to the support he has received from Kansas. As it happens, he owes the state to his existence saying his parents met at a drag race event in Manhattan Kansas back in the 1970s.

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