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An Unexpected Winning Formula: Travis Shumake Taps Gerda Joon As Crew Chief For NHRA Top Fuel Team

As he prepares for his debut in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, Top Fuel pilot and team owner Travis Shumake announced today that Gerda Joon is coming on board to serve as the crew chief of his 11,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragster. Joon will have the distinction of being the only active female crew chief in the Top Fuel category. 

Joon brings almost 20 years of drag racing experience to the Shumake Racing team. Previously, she served as an integral crew member for her husband, Lex, in Europe and the U.S. In 2019, after receiving guidance from renowned crew chiefs including Rob Flynn and Lance Larson, Joon became the crew chief on her husband’s Top Fuel dragster. 

“I bet you didn’t see this one coming,” Shumake laughed. “When Rob Flynn made the suggestion last fall I was immediately intrigued. I’m a stone-cold weirdo, and adding Gerda and Lex to the pack makes sense on so many levels. Gerda and Lex know how to run on a tight budget. Running under the Scrapper’s umbrella, we built this car to mirror Mike and Jasmine’s but on a drastically different budget. Gerda and Lex remind me daily that my champagne taste doesn’t fit in our beer budget.” 

A Netherlands native, Joon moved to the U.S. with her husband after experiencing great success in Europe competing in the FIA Top Fuel class. Since then, Gerda has quickly begun blazing trails and making a name for herself in the male-dominated Top Fuel pits. Her husband will serve as car chief and driving mentor for Shumake. 

“Travis’s enthusiasm is infectious,” said Joon. “He is one of the best new characters in our sport. With Lex running the crew and Scrappers sharing data and resources, our on-track performance should put Travis in the hunt for this year’s Rookie of the Year.”

The son of late NHRA Funny Car champion and Arizona Drag Racing Hall Of Fame members Tripp and Susie Shumake, Travis will make his Top Fuel debut at the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Chandler, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix, April 5-7 at Firebird Motorsports Park. An Arizona native, he’ll be announcing a standout group of sponsors and multiple appearances in his hometown leading up to the race.

This story was originally published on March 1, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.