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Travis Shumake: NHRA's first openly gay driver to debut Friday

Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Travis Shumake will make his debut Friday as the first openly gay driver in history to complete in a national event on the National Hot Rod Association racing circuit.

"There are two things that keep me going," Shumake told KSNT News on Thursday. "LGBTQ youth should have someone to look up to and to know they don't have to fit into a cookie cutter mold.

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"They can be a racecar driver. We need to continue to evolve."

The start follows a series of unfortunate sequences, which delayed the debut he planned nearly two years ago. He obtained his Nostalgia Funny Car license in June, ending his run of bad luck, which included crash during a November qualifying event, stolen safety gear and failure to qualify for another race.

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Now he plans to drive his rainbow decaled, Pride Kansas sponsored car in the 2022 NHRA Nationals on Friday at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kan.

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"Nothing has ever gone exactly my way, so that's why I'm simply excited to have a great time -- to have a great car, and to have my family at the track," Shumake told the Topeka Capital-Journal. "We'll see where it goes."

Shumake, 37, is the son of NHRA Funny Car racing legend Tripp Shumake, who died in 1999 motorcycle crash. He will first go on the track Friday afternoon for qualifying sessions and could reach two elimination rounds.

The final elimination round is scheduled for 2:40 p.m. EDT Sunday.

Qualifying will air at 4:30 p.m. EDT Saturday and at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday on FS1. The finals will air from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday on the same network. The dragsters can drive at speeds near 250 mph.

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