TOPEKA (KSNT) – Travis Shumake, the first openly gay professional drag racer, will make his racing debut in a pride-themed dragster at Heartland Motorsports Park at the NHRA Nationals Aug. 12-14.
The car features a bison and Pride Kansas on the side, with a geometric rainbow hood and matching parachutes.
“Just like the city of Topeka, the sport of NHRA drag racing is an unexpectedly welcoming and diverse place,” Shumake said. “Making my national event debut in Topeka sends a clear message that cities and sports with traditionally conservative reputations shouldn’t be overlooked as leaders in diversity. I couldn’t have picked a better debut sponsor. We are both trying to provide representations, resources, and hope to underrepresented groups.”
Shumake, a second-generation racer, follows in the footsteps of his father Tripp Shumake, a nationally renowned Funny Car racer who also competed in the NHRA.
“We are extremely excited to welcome Travis to Topeka in August for his national debut,” Topeka Mayor Mike Padilla said. “Topeka is committed to being an inclusive and welcoming community, which has been demonstrated in our recent Human Rights Commission Municipal Equality Index score, in which we received the highest score in the state, tying only with Overland Park. As a city, we continue to increase our efforts on the score, ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table in everything we do.”
An unveiling of the car will take place on Aug. 10, at the Rainbow Crosswalk in the North Topeka Arts and Entertainment District (NOTO).
The dragster is a 24-foot, 4,000-horsepower, nitromethane-burning rocket.
Visit Topeka and Pride Kansas have announced their sponsorship of the car.