Second-generation drag racer Travis Shumake, who is already licensed in Super Comp, Top Alcohol Dragster, and Nostalgia Funny Car, took the next step in his drag racing journey, making the first runs in his own Top Fuel dragster.
Shumake, who purchased his Top Fuel dragster lovingly nicknamed “Judith Light” in the spring of 2023, made three pulls down Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. Shumake gradually progressed with his first pass to nearly 200 feet and his second to about the 400-foot mark with tire smoke that had Shumake shutting the car off. On his third attempt, Shumake made a planned 600-foot shutoff, but at 3.939 seconds and 254.90 mph, it was enough to count towards his Top Fuel license and eclipsed his career-best 3.967 pass in a nitro Funny Car.
“Tuesday’s session was exactly what we wanted. It wasn’t just about seat time, it was about understanding the car and some of the new technology we’ve added,” Shumake said. “As an owner, I see and hear things differently now, including the engine. Nothing feels better than turning around in the shutoff area and seeing the power plant in one piece.
“This car is fast. We’re slowly seeing what she’s capable of while giving me some extra seat time in preparation for next season,” continued Shumake. “It’s nice to take things slow because we can. I didn’t want to get out of the car, but they said it’s not safe to sleep inside the cockpit.”
Shumake’s “Judith Light” dragster has a strong line of former drivers and owners, including Blake Alexander and Josh Hart, who each had two wins in the dragster, and Mike Salinas, who bought the dragster from Hart with the intention of his daughter racing it before making the decision to build a brand-new car. The dragster is now fully customized for Shumake’s 6’ 4”, 200-pound frame.
“Having the driver’s compartment completely rebuilt for my giant dimensions really changed the experience,” said Shumake. “It’s a tight squeeze, but it’s the most comfortable and safe I’ve felt in any car.”
Despite roots in the nitro Funny Car class from his father, national event winning Funny Car driver Tripp Shumake and mother Susie, who was a staple at events and was inducted into the Arizona Drag Racing Hall of Fame, Shumake is paving his own path by taking on dragsters.
Shumake made his NHRA competition debut during the 2022 season in one of Randy Meyer’s Top Alcohol Dragsters. Shumake competed in four national events, earning a No. 3 qualifying position at the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Charlotte and a career-best semifinal finish at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading.
Shumake’s journey to becoming a competitor and team owner in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will continue as he purchases a fully equipped truck and trailer and acquires more seat time in pursuit of a 2024 debut.