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Bo and Randi Lyn Butner set for JHG Mountain Motor Pro Stock debut in Charlotte

David Hilner photos

The Bo Butner Racing team is taking a different approach in the 2024 season of NHRA’s Mission Foods Drag Racing Series, and it all begins this weekend at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Charlotte’s zMAX Dragway. While 2017 Pro Stock world champion Bo raced in NHRA’s 500 cubic-inch professional category for the bulk of the past decade, he and his wife and fellow racer Randi Lyn “RL” Butner have solidified a leap to the powerful Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Mountain Motor Pro Stock series driving twin JHG Chevrolet Camaros.
Bo, who was the No. 1 qualifier in the Mountain Motor category at the PRO Super Star Shootout pre-season exhibition event, heads into this new era with enthusiasm along with temperance. He expects a learning curve and is willing to embrace it as the duo find their way in the 800-plus-cubic-inch series with power supplied by Elite Motorsports and applied by well-regarded tuner Frank Gugliotta.

“We had a pretty good start in Mountain Motor Pro Stock, and we’re just having fun driving these cars,” said Bo, who clocked a best time of 4.060-second at 178.05 mph to the 1/8th mile finish line. Mountain Motor Pro Stock races to the quarter-mile in NHRA competition, but Bo sees no issue with taking it down the full stretch.
“There is such a big learning curve in this, it’s all new to us, but we’re off to a great start,” he continued. “We have a monster team between the Elite Motorsports guys and our crew chief, Frank. There isn’t much more you could ask for in the Mountain Motor world.”
While Bo is looking forward to his own newest endeavor, he’s just as excited – if not more – to see his wife step up to a class that is overwhelmingly different than anything she’s ever raced in before. In addition to competing at the pre-season exhibition event alongside Bo, RL actually won her first round of competition.
“She’s done awesome,” he said. “I was not worried about her at all, and she’s doing her job. It’s fun for me to stand behind her car and see her do well. She’s never let go of a clutch pedal before this, but she’s been a very good student. I’m proud of her.”
The transition to Mountain Motor is massive, particularly for RL, who is a devoted Lucas Oil Series competitor and the 2021 Division 3 champion in Stock Eliminator. She began the licensing process earlier this year and spent concentrated time with Gugliotta getting to know the car and making runs down the racetrack. After racking up laps in front of a crowd in the eighth-mile race earlier this year, she locked down her quarter-mile license mid-April and it was official. RL’s 6.323-second pass at 208.04 mph at Virginia Motorsports Park broke all her own personal records and set her up to officially make her NHRA JHG Mountain Motor Pro Stock debut in Charlotte.
Over the course of her test runs and through the licensing process, the up-and-coming Mountain Motor Pro Stock driver was challenged with everything from weather delays and tire shake to simply getting familiar with shifting and dropping the clutch.
“I feel like they broke me in the hard way,” laughed RL, referring to learning to recognize and respond to tire shake in a finicky Mountain Motor Pro Stock car. “It was a little shaky, literally, but we have the smartest guys out there, and I knew they would figure it out. I don’t know if I would have called it fun in the beginning, because it was very nerve-racking, and I was definitely out of my element. But sometimes change is good, and it was empowering to make the good runs and be able to that. I never thought I would have this opportunity – I’d seen Bo do it a million times, but it’s so different to be the one inside the car controlling it.”
The JHG Mountain Motor Pro Stock series is scheduled to start at the spring race in Charlotte, April 26-28, and continue with races in Bristol, Richmond, Brainerd, and Reading, with the season-closer taking place at the fall event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Participants in the series will race at each of the six scheduled events for a Wally, NHRA’s coveted national event trophy. For the first time, the class will compete for a world title, with a champion crowned at the end of the season in Las Vegas.
“I’ve learned a lot already,” said RL, who will continue to race her 1967 Pontiac Firebird in Stock Eliminator throughout the season, though not in Charlotte. “I have way more confidence in myself now, and I almost feel guilty that the guys go to so much trouble and so much hard work for me to have four seconds of fun.
“I’m very excited about the season. A couple months ago, I didn’t even know if I could drive a clutch car. But Bo can drive anything – if it had four pedals, he’d probably be amazing it – and I think that him helping me through all the steps has really made a difference. It’s always good for a relationship if you’re working toward a common goal, and I think our whole team will be better off because of it.”

This story was originally published on April 25, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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