Words by Bret Kepner, images courtesy of ADRL
The American Drag Racing League’s extremely popular new SuperCar Showdown category now has its first certified superstar. Indiana’s Bo Butner drove his supercharged Ford Mustang Cobra Jet to the winner’s circle at the ADRL’s Spring Drags III at fabled Bristol (TN) Dragway to earn his second title in the first two races of the new series. Ford Motorsports is now undefeated in the new SCS program after producing a another one-two finish with Mustang Cobra Jets and earning top performance honors at both ADRL SuperCar Showdown contests.
Butner, the past drag racing World Champion, met fellow Hoosier competitor Ray Skillman in the championship match of the sport’s only class to feature the world’s quickest and fastest production automobiles in national competition. Skillman, a seventy year-old grandfather whose racing career covers more than fifty seasons, became a crowd favorite when he defeated the fastest driver in the series, Chris Holbrook, in the semi-finals. Butner secured the victory by a full car-length over Skillman while clocking his third straight eliminations run of 5.8 seconds over the eighth-mile distance.
In fact, Butner’s white Mustang clocked three consecutive winning efforts varying no more than nineteen thousandths of a second with a best performance of 5.86 seconds and a top speed of 117.39 miles per hour. The Floyd’s Knobs, Indiana, campaigner thrilled fans with huge wheelstanding launches from the white Ford sponsored by his family’s Butner’s Auto Sales.
“This win means a lot to me and my crew but it’s really all about the Ford Motor Company”, said an elated Butner to fans during champion’s ceremonies at the renowned racing facility in the Tennessee mountains. “With the help of Brian Wolfe and Jesse Kershaw from Ford Motorsports, we made some changes in the gear ratios which produced even more performance than we had when we won the first race in Houston and accounted for those giant wheelstands the crowd loved so much. I know this car is fun to watch but I can promise you it’s a whole lot more fun to drive!”.
Skillman, whose philanthropy is as well-known as his huge chain of Indianapolis auto dealerships, only qualified fifth in the field but was impressive through eliminations and shocked Butner with a sizeable reaction time advantage in the championship battle. “It was a thrill to get back to real side-by-side drag racing”, said Skillman. “I had more fun than I could ever explain. The ADRL treats us as professionals in this new class and the fans were just wonderful. This was our first SuperCar Showdown event but we’ve already revised our schedule to compete in the majority of the series”.
Skillman drove the blue Mustang of his son, Bill, in the race but was joined in competition by his grandson, Drew, in a white Cobra Jet team car which qualified second in the field behind performance standout Holbrook, whose Michigan-based Varsity Ford-sponsored Mustang again led all qualifiers with the quickest and fastest run of the event by accelerating to 118.98 miles per hour in just 5.82 seconds. Drew Skillman lost in the semi-finals after the closest race in series history, clocking 5.87 seconds at 118.53 mph to Butner’s slightly quicker 5.86/117.39 with only 8.31 feet separating the two Fords at the finish line. The SuperCar Showdown features open competition among production vehicles from all automobile manufacturers worldwide with engines, chassis and even tires remaining in factory trim.
The Bristol event included the first female driver in SCS competition in the form of crowd favorite Randi Lyn Shipp who piloted the V10-powered Dodge Challenger SRT of Louisiana veteran Jeff Teuton. Shipp qualified fourth in the field at the helm of the Southland Dodge-sponsored machine but, despite a reaction time “holeshot”, fell to Holbrook in the opening round of eliminations.
The next event in the 2012 SuperCar Showdown Series will be the American Drag Racing League’s Northeast Drags II presented by Penske at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pennsylvania, on May 4-5.