The first few notes of the holiday spirit begin to ring in October for the NHRA crowd, typically on Halloween weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Truly, there is no more appropriate city in which to spend Halloween if you’re keen on shenanigans.
Self-certified “shenanigan handler” Randi Lyn Shipp is particularly fond of the holiday and has been ensuring that she and fiancé Bo Butner’s team meet and exceed expectations for the annual Saturday night costume party at the Las Vegas drag strip.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle riders are generally considered to be the group that started dressing up for Halloween in qualifying on Saturday at the late October event, but the fun has since permeated the Pro Stock car category as well, with Shipp at the helm. In each of the past five seasons, the Stock Eliminator racer has conceptualized a unique, crowd-pleasing idea and implemented head-to-toe transformations for not only the Jim Butner Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stock car, but also for each of the crew members in order to fit the theme.
Shipp’s various incarnations for the car and crew have been a source of speculation and anticipation each season until the day before the race weekend begins, when Bottom Sign Co. travels to the racetrack to wrap the car in the pits. Inevitably, photos are leaked and word begins to travel.
Their first Halloween theme was Dukes of Hazzard (and yes, Daisy Duke – aka Kristi Shipp – was the back-up girl). Legend has it that Butner, whose given name is James Butner III, christened himself “Bo” one night while watching the television program as a child. Characters Bo Duke and his brother, Luke, famously piloted the General Lee in the show, and James the Third felt there were simply too many Jims in his family. Bo would do, just fine.
In 2017, Shipp pulled off a Smokey and the Bandit concept with crew member Greg Esarey decked out in a cowboy hat and red leather jacket that would have made even Burt Reynolds feel a bit inferior. Shipp rocked a wedding dress on the starting line as Sally Field’s character, Carrie (aka Frog). The car was immortalized in photos as Butner retained the wrap for the season-closer in Pomona, where he wrapped up his first Pro Stock championship.
For the 2018 Back to the Future motif, Butner’s Chevy morphed into a DeLorean. The car won Best Appearing honors on Saturday and then the event trophy on Sunday (no flux capacitor necessary).
For 2019, a tribute to Talladega Nights was in order, and Wonder Bo “shake and baked” his way to the semifinals on Sunday.
The 2020 theme was right in line with current events. With the presidential election just around the corner, Shipp had Butner’s Chevrolet branded as “Bo Force One,” and crew member Davey Allison was outfitted in near-perfect detail as Donald Trump. Kristi Shipp’s RBF (look it up) was spot-on as Melania Trump, and the shenanigan handler herself was dressed to the nines as one of the most popular First Ladies of all time, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Butner has declared that he will no longer race a full Pro Stock schedule, but one can certainly hope that his retirement from full time professional racing does not mark the end of Randi Lyn Shipp’s great Halloween shenanigans.
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