Written by Ainsley Jacobs
In drag racing, Tripp Shumake’s name is synonymous with success. A member of both the Cragar Five-Second Club and Crane Cams Funny Car 250-mph Club, a two-time NHRA Funny Car national event winner, and the fourth man in history to drive a Funny Car over 250 mph, Tripp never hesitated to pursue his dreams. Now, with the help of Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, Tripp’s son, Travis, is following in his father’s footsteps as he pursues his own drag racing career while also seeking to be the first openly gay pilot of a 10,000+ horsepower Nitro Funny Car.
Although Travis only saw Tripp race a handful of times as his father’s career was already well established before he was born in 1984, he got to enjoy witnessing the celebrity status that came with his father’s achievements. “I always knew he was famous, and as a kid I remember it being normal to just walk behind the ropes and into someone’s pit and trailer which other fans would consider a VIP experience,” Travis recalled of his youth spent hanging out with legends like John Force and Frank Hawley.
Travis was destined to find his niche in racing, just like his father, and began chasing speed when he was young. “My dad wanted to bond with me, so we started racing shifter karts when I was 12,” shared Travis, now 36 years old, of the memories the men made together. Tragically, though, Tripp lost his life in 1999 when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while riding his motorcycle near the family’s home in Arizona.
After such a devastating loss, Travis stopped pursuing his karting career but still had a strong love for drag racing. He had loved spending long nights in the garage with his dad working on Paula Martin’s Funny Car, and toyed with the idea of rekindling his involvement in the sport.
“I always knew this was going to be a thing, it was just a question of when,” he asserted confidently. While at the track in Gainesville, Florida, in the spring of 2020, Travis was inspired by hearing some friends reminisce about his father and he became more motivated to reconnect with that side of his heritage. However, one of those conversations also coincided with the question of how to bring more diversity and inclusion to drag racing. “We were talking about getting five drivers to put a small rainbow sticker on their car in June for Pride month and I said… or I could just become the first gay drag racer and do it myself. The decision had been made!”
A few short days later, Travis had put a plan in motion with an eventual goal of racing Nitro Funny Cars. To start, he contacted his father’s longtime friend and two-time NHRA Funny Car World Champion, Frank Hawley, and arranged to attend Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School in May of 2021 to obtain his NHRA Super Comp license.
“It was a wonderful experience overall and the entire class of 16 students was very supportive of one other,” said Travis, who especially enjoyed the biomechanics lessons and visual acuity tests that were a part of his studies at the School as well as different techniques to focus his mind. “Frank taught me that simple isn’t the same as easy and that the most skilled part of driving a fast car is when it’s at its slowest speeds.”
Travis showed tremendous talent during his time at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School and clocked consistently quick reaction times, just like his father used to do. Moving forward with his plan of one day piloting a Nitro Funny Car, he returned to the School to make his first passes in a true Funny Car and obtain his NHRA Nostalgia Funny Car license.
On June 15, Travis traveled from his home in New York City and arrived at Florida’s Bradenton Motorsports Park ready to get down to business. His first challenge was simply learning how to get into the Funny Car itself, as his 6’4” height made it a bit of a challenge – especially while fully dressed in a fire suit, helmet, HANS device, and other accessories.
“Firing up the car for the first time, though, now that was exciting. Sitting behind the engine and seeing the first puffs of smoke come out of the headers was one of the things I’ve waited my whole life to experience,” noted the man about his drag racing bucket list.
Getting to spend a full day working one-on-one with Frank Hawley, instead of in a shared classroom environment with the Super Comp course, was instrumental to Travis’s triumphs during his Funny Car experience. From staging to launching and learning to control the center-steer machine to the 1,000-foot mark and finally popping the parachute for the first time, Travis couldn’t stop smiling.
“My biggest challenge was keeping the car in the groove. Frank kept telling me not to wait until half-track to start steering, but the first one or two seconds I’d get thrown back in the seat and the clutch dust would come up and everything was vibrating so it was almost over by the time I felt fully in control,” laughed the rookie racer.
By day’s end, Travis had successfully completed his NHRA Nostalgia Funny Car licensure and was already planning his return to continue pursuing his NHRA Nitro Funny car credentials as well.
“Over the years, we’ve had many second-generation drivers come through the school, but having Tripp and Susie Shumake’s son Travis attend was really special. Maybe the ability to drive race cars is genetic, because Travis did a great job,” shared Hawley, who remembers his good friend and Travis’s father as one of the best Funny Car drivers of all time.
“Driving one of these cars is a skill, and I’m going to continue to develop that so I can pursue my Nitro career,” affirmed Travis, who has a goal of competing in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series while making history as the first openly gay Nitro Funny Car driver. “We’re doing this y’all, so get on board!”
By day, Travis works as an executive at the NYC-based Clinton Foundation nonprofit organization and has tremendous experience in fundraising, public relations, brand management, and media/marketing. The skills that he has developed so solidly during his professional career, coupled with his strengths as an LGBTQ+ activist, will undoubtedly aid him as he pursues financial backing and partnerships for his drag racing initiative.
“This is an opportunity to bring both the LGBTQ+ dollar and fans into drag racing. People in the sport aren’t against it, there just hasn’t been an opportunity to show support before, so I am taking on the challenge,” he shared. “Drag racing has always been ahead of the curve in diversity, so this just feels like another logical milestone to accomplish before other racing leagues, like we always do.”
Travis’s experiences at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, and throughout his journey towards competing at the highest level of the sport, have allowed him to deepen his understanding of and passion for drag racing that shaped his relationship with his father.
“I wish he could be here to see me doing this, but, if he was, I think I’d have already been doing it years ago,” added Travis who is excited to explore the genetic connection between him and his father. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep that quick Shumake foot on the throttle through the lights, just like he used to do, with a little less fire and a lot more speed to continue his legacy.”
We have confirmed a number of 2020 class dates! Next year we’ll be returning to some of our favorite tracks – Tucson Dragway, Auto Club Dragway, Houston Raceway, Route 66 Raceway, Summit Motorsports Park, Bandimere Speedway, Woodburn Dragstrip, and of course running classes all throughout the year at our home base of Gainesville Raceway! We’re still waiting to confirm dates at Las Vegas and Maple Grove Raceway.
Gainesville Raceway – January 21-22, February 4-5, February 18-19, March 17-18, March 24-25 Two-day competition license class; Dragster Adventure – March 27, 2020. These are just the spring dates – we run here ALL YEAR!
Tucson Dragway – April 5 Dragster Adventure; April 6-7 Two-day competition license class
Auto Club Dragway – April 15-16 Two-day competition license class, April 17 Dragster Adventure
Houston Raceway – June 3-4 Two-day competition license class, June 5 Dragster Adventure
Route 66 Raceway – June 24-25 Two-day competition license class, June 26 Dragster Adventure
Summit Motorsports Park – July 13-14 Two-day competition license class, June 16 Dragster Adventure
Bandimere Speedway – July 27 Dragster Adventure; July 28-29 Two-day competition license class
Woodburn Dragstrip – August 2 Dragster Adventure; August 3-4 Two-day competition license class
You can earn your competition license to 7.50 in the two-day competition license class in our car or yours, so please contact us and we can answer all your questions about this program. This is a great foundation if you’re building a car, moving up to a faster car or making the move up from Juniors. Or maybe it’s on your bucket list to take the class. You’ll learn so much more than how to drive the race car! Frank’s renowned “Personal Performance Development” classroom sessions cover the physiology of how your mind and body work together. Participants will learn how to mentally prepare, perform at the highest level, improve focus and block out distractions. Frank teaches how to practice more effectively whether at the track, at the shop or at home. He’ll share techniques on how to remove the emotional baggage (everybody has some) that can often disrupt good performance .
If you’re looking for a fun day driving a dragster, the dragster adventure is for you, friends, customers and employees. The Dragster Adventure is a fun course specifically designed for drivers that want to “DRIVE A DRAGSTER” and you can even compete in “SIDE-BY-SIDE” racing. This program does not have the in-depth classroom sessions that our competition course does, but is great for team building and group events too! Group dates are available on request.
If you’re currently racing and are ready to move up to a faster car, check out the 200 mph class! These upgrade courses are designed not only for those seeking to compete in Nostalgia Funny Car, Pro Mod, Top Dragster, A-Fuel Dragster, Top Alcohol Dragster, but also numerous other types of programs such as Super Quick, Quick 16 Shootouts, Super Pro, Big Money Bracket Races or anywhere a competition license to run quicker than 7.49 in a quarter mile is required. You can earn your license to 6.00 in these classes. Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School offers drivers who are looking to upgrade their current NHRA competition license to 3A or 3B or 2A or 2B in this unique one day course. Participation in this course requires a strong drag race history or successful completion of the Super Comp or Super Gas Course.
Call us with your questions or to book. Seats are limited in all programs and pre-registration is required.
Please call Jeff Arend or Paul Shields at the numbers below with your questions!
Jeff Arend, firstname.lastname@example.org, 909-973-8279 c
Paul Shields, email@example.com, 904-472-6312 c
Busy times at FHDRS! We have been running lots of classes and helping new racers earn their NHRA competition licenses this year! Our annual class after the 50th Gatornationals is always a melting pot of drivers, and this year we had people attending from all over the US, Canada, Norway and England. We followed up with a Funny Car class, hosted another Super Comp/Super Gas Competition License Class and the one-day Dragster Adventure. Then while we were getting ready to head west, we added another 2-day competition license class and Alcohol Dragster class to help more people earn their licenses to go racing.
When you receive this we’ll be running classes at Tucson Dragway. Following Tucson, we head to Auto Club Dragway and then on to Las Vegas. While our classes in Vegas have been sold out for some time, we have a few seats left at the Fontana class on April 24-25. There are also a couple seats in the Dragster Adventures on April 19 and April 26 at Auto Club Dragway. Class dates coming up: Gainesville Raceway May 14-15 (license class); Route 66 Raceway May 23-24 (license class); Houston Raceway June 5-6 (license class) and Houston Raceway June 7 (dragster adventure); Woodburn Dragstrip June 26-27 (license class with only SC Dragster seats left) and Woodburn Dragstrip June 28 or June 29 (dragster adventures); Summit Motorsports Park July 15-16 (license class); Heartland Motorsports Park July 30-31 (license class); and Maple Grove Raceway August 12-13 (license class). More fall dates on our calendar, too!
Many of our dragster adventure days are already sold out, so we thank you for your support of this program and please know we’ll try to increase the dates for these next year!
All the competition license classes include the lectures on how to “Improve your Personal Performance”. The classroom sessions cover the physiology of how your mind and body work together. You’ll learn how to mentally prepare, perform at the highest level, improve focus and block out distractions. Frank teaches how to practice more effectively whether at the track, at the shop or at home. He’ll share techniques on how to remove the emotional baggage (everybody has some) that can often disrupt good performance. People share with us they find this classroom time extremely useful in their work, at home and of course on the track!
Remember, our Alcohol class dates are scheduled on demand, so give us a call if you’re ready to take that next step in your career.
Paul Shields and Jeff Arend can answer all your questions about our programs and their contact information is below. We look forward to seeing you at a class soon!
Jeff Arend, firstname.lastname@example.org, 909-973-8279 cell
Paul Shields, email@example.com, 904-472-6312 cell
Last week was the debut of the John Force Racing built 2018 Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School. John Force Racing’s developmental driver, Austin Prock, was the first to make laps in the beautiful state of the art Camaro. Frank and his crew worked side by side with Austin and couldn’t have been happier. “We have been working with Austin for the past year and it’s been great to see him develop as a race car driver! Austin is very focused, just like his Dad Jimmy, and we look forward to seeing him in a John Force Racing Fuel Funny Car down the road.” said Frank Hawley
“We at John Force Racing have always relied on Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School to get our drivers started off with the proper training. The knowledge that can be gained from the school is priceless and definitely gives our current and future drivers a leg up on the competition.” said Robert Hight, GM at John Force Racing. Robert added, “Even though I have won 2 Championships, Frank Hawley is still the first person I call for advice when I need some, and he is always there to help me out.”
“I had a blast working with Frank, like I always do. In my mind if you want to become a better racecar driver, there is no better school to go to. Frank’s constructive criticism is what makes the difference, if you listen to him. So, if you just want to go somewhere, make laps and not learn, this isn’t the place to go!” said Austin Prock
“I’m honored that John Force Racing has trusted us to work with all of their drivers over the years, it’s truly been a privilege,” said Hawley. “As Austin moves forward in his career he will get excellent guidance and advice from Robert and all of the JFR team drivers.”
“When we came up with this program, the idea was to make the transition to a Nostalgia Funny Car or NHRA Nitro Funny Car as easy as possible. The procedures for driving this car are almost identical to those type of cars and we feel that there is no better way to get prepared for that next step in your career. For those of you that like the dragsters better, we also have a Top Dragster set up the same way, so we have you covered.” added Frank Hawley.
Contact the school at 866-480-7223. And visit our website at www.frankhawley.com for information on all the programs we offer, class dates & locations! Pre-registration required in all classes and seats are limited. The Alcohol Funny Car and Dragster class dates are on-demand and most are not listed on our calendar.
Jeff Arend, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-480-7223 x103
Paul Shields, email@example.com, 866-480-7223 x102
Sunny skies, low humidity and pleasant temperatures are what Florida is about in the Fall & Winter. And remember, the tuition on our 2-day Super Comp or Super Gas competition license program is only $1495 at our home track of Gainesville Raceway! Below are the dates we currently have scheduled, and note there are some 2017 dates on there already! These classes are a GREAT foundation to move on to all forms of racing! We have grads racing in the NHRA, IHRA, NMRA, NMCA, NHRDA, JETS and more!
This year we are offering two classes between Christmas and New Years for everyone who is off of work, school or just plain on vacation!
So, if you’ve been thinking about getting into racing or already have a hot rod, pick up the phone and call Paul or Jeff and they can tell you just about everything you want to know about earning your competition license, bringing your own car to class, upgrading to a different class, or just having some fun and checking an item off your bucket list! These classes are taught personally by Frank Hawley and the SC/SG classes include the personal performance lectures Frank has worked with many of the pro drivers on.
Don’t wait as class size is limited and preregistration is required in all our programs. Additional dates for the 200 mph classes are available on request. Scroll down past the dates for contact info…
October 4-5, 2016 ~~ Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car
October 12, 2016 ~~ Top Dragster
December 6-7, 2016 ~~ Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car
December 8-9, 2016 ~~ Top Dragster
December 27-28, 2016 ~~ Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car
December 29-30, 2016 ~~ Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car
January 17-18, 2017 ~~ Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car
January 24-25, 2017 ~~ Top Dragster or Nostalgia Funny Car
February 14-15, 2017 ~~ Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car
February 28-March 1, 2017 ~~ Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car
March 21-22, 2017 ~~ Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car (*premium pricing of $1695.00 after Gatornationals)
March 24, 2017 ~~ Dragster Adventure
March 28-29, 2017 ~~ Top Dragster or Nostalgia Funny Car
Paul Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-480-7223 x102, 904-472-6312 cell
Jeff Arend, email@example.com, 866-480-7223 x103, 909-973-8279 cell
This is the first year we are taking our classes to Heartland Park Topeka! There are still seats left in both the popular 2-day Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car class on September 7-8, as well as the fun Dragster Adventure on September 9.
Then we’ll be heading back to our home track of Gainesville Raceway for some 200 mph action in the Nostalgia Funny Car and Top Dragster, as well as the SC/SG/BYOC class on October 4-5. Remember, the tuition is $500 less on the 2-day Super Comp/Super Gas program in Gainesville!
Mid-October we’re off to Auto Club Dragway! In addition to a special program for the Fontana Chamber of Commerce, we’ll be running our SC/SG/BYOC class on October 19-20. Only a few seats are left in this class. The Dragster Adventure on October 21 has been sold out for some time, but there are still a few spots left on October 27 and October 28.
Call on our knowledgeable staff if you’re looking to earn your license, upgrade your license or get started in racing. They will answer any questions you may have or help you reserve your seat in any of the programs we offer. The Super Comp/Super Gas class has proved to be an incredibly good starting point for so many people who are racing! The competition license classes are taught personally by Frank Hawley and include the popular Personal Performance Development lectures. We have so many grads competing in everything from the NHRA Pro classes, NMRA, NMCA, IHRA, Jet Dragster, and local racers!
Dates for the 200 mph cars are on request and previous fast car experience is required.
Remember, pre-registration is required in all our classes and seats are limited.
Paul Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-480-7223 x102, 904-472-6312 c
Jeff Arend, email@example.com, 866-480-7223 x103, 909-973-8279 c
Here’s a list of all our upcoming class dates/locations that have openings:
August 25, 2016 Dragster Adventure, Maple Grove Raceway – Click here to book now
September 7-8, 2016 Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car, Heartland Park Topeka – Call us to book
September 9, 2016 Dragster Adventure, Heartland Park Topeka – Click here to book now
October 4-5, 2016 Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car, Gainesville Raceway – Call us to book
October 7, 2016 Dragster Adventure, Gainesville Raceway – Click here to book now
October 19-20, 2016 Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car, Auto Club Dragway – Call us to book
October 27, 2016 Dragster Adventure, Auto Club Dragway – Click here to book now
October 28, 2016 Dragster Adventure, Auto Club Dragway – Click here to book now
December 6-7, 2016 Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car, Gainesville Raceway – Call us to book
December 27-28, 2016 Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car, Gainesville Raceway – Call us to book
December 29-30, 2016 Super Comp/Super Gas/Bring Your Own Car, Gainesville Raceway – Call us to book
Check out all the great locations we’re holding both our 2-day Super Comp/Super Gas competition license class, as well as the Dragster Adventure in the next couple months!! In addition to our regular stops at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston (May 18-20) and Bandimere Speedway in Denver (June 1-3), this will be the first time we’ve ventured to Woodburn Dragstrip in the Pacific Northwest (June 8-10), as well as Route 66 Raceway near Chicago (June 30-July 2)!
We’ll be holding our Alcohol Funny Car and Top Dragster classes in between our travels at our home base of Gainesville Raceway also.
So, if you want to earn your competition license, improve your skills, crossgrade or upgrade your current license, entertain friends or employees – give us a call!
Pre-registration is required in all programs and space is limited, so contact Paul Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeff Arend, email@example.com at 866-480-7223 for complete information on all our classes or to sign up!
Visit our website for lots more class dates and locations too!
We love running our race cars and we love watching people drive them, and lately we’ve been doing a lot of both! Some people were driving a race car for the first time and others wanted to move up the ranks and learn how to handle faster machines. In the past few months we’ve seen it all. From running corporate classes to teaching US Navy Seals and Hollywood celebrities like Jay Leno to helping a guy achieve his life-long dream to drive a NHRA Nitro Funny car…it’s been a lot of fun.
One of our best moments was working with a group of active US Navy Seals at our school in Fontana. The group was hosted by Mickey Thompson Tires. M/T is a big supporter of the US Armed Forces and bringing these guys out was quite a thrill. The Seals had a great time driving and we had a great time visiting with them.
Another highlight was working with a star like Jay Leno. Jay has a new show called “Jay Leno’s Garage” which airs on NBC. The show’s producers contacted us about filming a segment in which Jay learns how to drive a Super Comp dragster. The show also featured the “not yet in production” 2016 SS Camaro. It was great to have our former student and current Pro Stock NHRA world Champ Erica Enders show up to help with the class. We were asked not to divulge anything about Jay’s on track performance until the show airs in October. We’ll let you know when it will be on and then give you a little behind the scenes story as well. Thanks to Jay and all his staff…. great people!
Companies have been bringing their customers and employees to the school for some great side-by-side racing action in our Dragster Adventure programs. A group of designers and engineers from New Balance shoes showed up. New Balance is working on shoe designs that can enhance a runner’s acceleration and wanted to experience some acceleration “dragster style” before sitting in on a lecture Frank gave on the physiology of human reaction time.
The school of course travels to many locations and the MAC TOOL company recently invited us to ZMax Dragway in Charlotte where MAC assembled a group of their top dealers from the US and Canada for a day of dragster racing. The on-track action was awesome and the racing was crazy close.
And then there are guys like Jim Campbell. Jim is a firefighter and works in relief efforts at major disasters around the globe. But he had a dream of one day driving an NHRA Nitro Funny Car. Dream BIG… right? Well, he did it. We got Jim through a couple of our programs and “up to speed” in our Nostalgia Funny Car. That earned him the chance to try out the “big” car. Last week with Jeff Arend and Del Worsham at his side Jim made his qualifying passes in the Worsham car and earned his Nitro FC license. How cool!!
In addition to all of this we have been fulfilling lots of other dreams for folks that want to scratch something off their “bucket list”, just have some fast fun or find a shorter route to the winner’s circle.
Class pictures follow from our popular two-day Super Comp/Super Gas license programs conducted at Auto Plus Raceway in Gainesville, FL, our West Coast home at Auto Club Dragway in Fontana, CA, Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, TX and Bandimere Speedway in Denver, CO.
Quotes from some of our recent grads:
~ Thank you for a great course at Fontana. You and all your team really helped us to learn in a methodical manner conducive to learning a lot about driving and perhaps more about life. In addition to my formula car racing I am very interested in periodically doing Super Comp runs in your dragsters. I have wanted to drive a dragster since I first saw them up close at Keystone Dragways outside of Winnipeg at the age of ten and thanks to you I finally reached that goal! Paul Coleman, SC grad
~The School was so much more than anticipated, like one of Frank’s talks, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know”. I really can’t imagine as a new car owner and driver how long it would be before I had the level of confidence and experience I gained from the Frank Hawley School. I really believe Franks driving course, classroom talks and driving instructions will be a huge part in successful driving and enjoying the sport. Greg Moore, SG grad
~ Anybody who wants to learn how to drive a race car would be foolish not to take your class. The experts that you have working for you are the best. From Jack Beckman, Jeff Arend, Jimmy, Matt and Derek, because of all of you, I have achieved my dream in becoming a Fuel Funny Car Driver. Jim Campbell, NFC grad
~ I just wanted to thank you for helping me “clear the clutter”. Yesterday I made it to the final of our AFX group at the NAPA Night of Fire and Thunder at Bandimere I’ve never made a final before. I did lose the final in a double breakout race but I gave it hell and lost by a micro second. It was a huge crowd and lots of folks attending that are family and friends. Lots of pressure. Lol!! I credit you and all that you taught us. For the most part I stayed on task and clear of distraction. Brad Shaffer, SG grad
Contact us for more information on any of our programs or to schedule your date!
The months of January and February have kept us busy helping people obtain their goal of earning their NHRA Super Comp, Super Gas and Nostalgia Funny Car licenses!
It is always interesting to note the wide range of experience of the people attending the School…some were grads upgrading their licenses, some had been racing 10 and 11 second cars, some were moving up from Jr. Dragster, and some had never been in a race car before!
We are pleased that Sunoco Race Fuels will power all the School’s race cars in 2015! The Chevy engines in the school’s Super Comp and Super Gas cars will be burning Sunoco 110, while the Alcohol cars will be powered by Sunoco Methanol and Southern Racing Fuels will be making sure plenty of product is on hand for every driving course. Thank you to Sunoco Race Fuels and Southern Racing Fuels for your support!
Two of our grads raced the Schools dragsters in the NHRA Division 2 event and will be trying to win some rounds at the Gatornationals in the Super Comp field!
In addition to our regular license classes in SC/SG, Top Dragster, Nostalgia FC, and the Alky category, we have a number of Dragster Adventures on the calendar. The Dragster Adventures are great fun for you, your friends, your employees or your customers. It will provide a most memorable day on the race track!
Contact us for info on any of our classes and we hope to see you in the driver’s seat at the School soon!