Friday, September 2, 2022

Travis Shumake Talks Being The First Gay Drag Racer (AUDIO)

Produced by Charlotte Robinson


In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Travis Shumake, the first openly gay professional drag car racer who made his national racing debut during the Menards National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals at Topeka’s Heartland Motorsports Park last month. Shumake in partnership with Visit Topeka and Pride Kansas crossed the NHRA Nationals finish line in a Pride Kansas-themed dragster to represent the state’s inaugural week-long Pride celebration that happens in Topeka September 17th to 24th. His 24-foot, 4,000-horsepower, nitromethane burning rocket also featured a modern geometric rainbow hood and matching rainbow parachutes. As a second-generation racer Travis grew up in competitive shifter-kart racing with his father Tripp Shumake who was a nationally renowned Funny Car racer who also competed in the NHRA. Last February Travis fully committed to the sport has spent the last several months finalizing his sponsorship opportunities and completing his vehicle licensing making him eligible to race at NHRA-sanctioned tracks and national events. One of those new sponsors is Grindr the gay dating app and when $8,000 of safety gear was stolen from Shumake’s pit Grindr stepped up and replaced the equipment. Shumake states that at 280 MPH he’s proud to be turning heads and raising eyebrows with Grindr as a partner and to represent our LGBTQ community in this sport that draws 30 million American drag racing fans each year. He’s also especially proud to serve as a role model for our LGBTQ youth. We talked to Travis about what he hopes to accomplish with his drag car racing career and his spin on our LGBTQ issues. 

Travis Shumake was born into a family forged at the racetrack. “Tripp” Shumake was a dominant force in Funny Car in the 70s and 80s winning multiple NHRA titles. His mother Susie was a mechanic and a member of the Arizona Drag Racing Hall of Fame in her own right. Tripp and Travis kept the family tradition alive racing competitive shifter karts until Tripp’s death in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident in 1999 when Travis was just 15 years old. Travis stayed close to racing always hoping he’d find a way into the driver’s seat. Then earlier this year he declared his intentions to challenge the status quo and continue the family legacy in drag racing while bringing visibility to the LGBTQ+ racing community. As a single foster parent and longtime advocate for homeless youth Travis hopes his passion for the next generation will open new channels of corporate social responsibility and educate a new segment of sports fans to the importance of equity and inclusion. For More Info…


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