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Randi Lyn Shipp is Fearless in Her Wheel-standing 1967 Firebird!

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 4/13/2018 Hot Rod Network Staff
001-1967-pontiac-firebird-randi-lyn-shipp Randi Lyn Shipp is Fearless in Her Wheel-standing 1967 Firebird!

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone more deeply immersed in the sport of drag racing than Indiana's Randi Lyn Shipp. "Rocket" Shipp, as she's known, has been strapping herself to racecars since the age of 8, and since then her entire life has revolved around the straight-line sport. Her father Randy, brother Joey, and sister Kristi all race—as does her fiance—the reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion, Bo Butner. Even her mom Jackie is a huge supporter.

In more than two decades of competition, Randi Lyn has wheeled cars in Jr. Dragster, local Brackets, along with NHRA Super Comp and Super Street. These days, the Hoosier is a regular on the NHRA Mello Yello national event tour, where she's scored four event victories in Stock Eliminator. By day, Randi Lyn works at the family business, Jim Butner Auto Sales, but at the track she's focused on running her Stocker, serving as a crew member on the Pro Stock team, and growing their apparel company, Nitro Fish Racing.

007-wheelie-1967-firebird-stock.jpg© Hot Rod Network Staff 007-wheelie-1967-firebird-stock.jpg

"My dad was always into cars and drag racing," she told us. "He's friends with Pro Mod racer Billy Glidden, and many years ago he went with Billy's father, legendary racer Bob Glidden, to Gainesville Raceway for the Gatornationals. That was all it took for him to get heavily involved in drag racing," she explained. "We're from a small town outside of Indianapolis, and every car guy knows each other. I was like 7 at the time and there was a raffle for a Jr. Dragster. The guy who won didn't have kids so my dad bought it from him. He didn't expect me to do well with it, but I won my third race. After that my dad was thinking 'she could really be good' and it turned into a whole childhood of racing.

"When I turned 16 I got a Super Comp dragster and I won a national open at Indy, which is my home track, but my dad was more into full-bodied door cars, so he bought a 1969 Camaro for us to race. We brought it home in boxes and built it for NHRA Super Street, which is on a 10.90 index. At the time my dad and brother raced in Super Street so that made it a lot of fun."

The '69 Camaro brought Randi Lyn a win at Summit Motorsports Park in 2009, but what made that race extra special was her final-round opponent. "That weekend I ended up racing my brother for the trophy," she said. "It was really exciting and kind of careless since we were both in the final. It was as far as you can go, so we were both cheering for each other. If he beat me I would have been just as excited for him."

Looking to move from Super Street to Stock Eliminator, Randi Lyn and Bo found a clean '67 Firebird that was already in race trim. "I was 21 when we bought it and I was not at all about the Firebird," she admitted. "I was a '69 Camaro girl, but now I'm a certified Pontiac maniac," she said with her trademark smile. "Bo knew I'd love my Pontiac even before I did. He is supportive and keeps my car going week after week. I couldn't own and race a car like this without him. People love the car and fans always come up and share Firebird history with me. It's really special because it took me to my first national event win."

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The Bird was purchased from fellow racer Tony DeFrank, but before hitting the track it went through an extensive restoration and rebuild. John Howard handled the rust and metal repair and he sprayed the Pontiac in Axalta Herr's Potato Chip White. And since the F-Body was originally equipped with a 285 horsepower 326 H.O. engine, they kept the factory H.O. stripe.

Underneath, the front subframe was cleaned, painted, and reinstalled with a complete quarter-mile suspension consisting of Santhuff springs and shocks. The rear consists of Calvert Racing Suspension CalTracs and Santhuff shocks. With the 'bird rolling, all new wiring was laid in along with the 400-cube Poncho mill, GM Metric automatic, and a 12-bolt rear. Inside, Randi Lyn set up her office with a Sparco wheel, Turbo Action shifter, a VDO tach, and she added a cup holder because, as she stated, "the new Cobra Jet Mustangs have a cup holder and I was jealous.

"Once I got it repainted it looked so good that I left the stickers off the car. It stings when you win without the stickers because you miss out on contingency money, but I've come to terms with it because it looks so good. I love muscle cars and the factory look," she added.

Stock Eliminator is one of the longest-standing classes in the sport and winning is ultra tough. Success requires a car that runs well under the Class index, and drivers must be prepared for both bracket and heads-up competition.

With four NHRA national event wins, Randi Lyn has proven herself as a driver, and her team, including fiance Bo, Darrel Herron, Greg Esarey, and her entire family have made the Firebird a real flyer. Running at 3,210 lbs. (with driver) in D/SA (11.55 index), the Pontiac has run 10.40 at 124 mph. And when set up lighter for C/SA, it's run a best of 10.31 at over 125 mph.

Randi Lyn told us she loves every part of the sport including the car prep, the racing, and most importantly the people. In addition to competing in Stock and Pro Stock, they've ventured into the world of No Prep outlaw style racing along with NMRA and NMCA action.

But for Randi Lyn, nothing compares to going wheels-up in the Firebird. On a typical pass, she does a burnout, stages, and brings the engine to 3,600 rpm before cutting it loose. The F-body leaves like a "rocket" hiking the hoops sky high en route to 1.28 60-foot times. Amazingly, the Poncho sings to 6,800 before she clicks the gears, and it buzzes across the stripe where no Pontiac should go—revving to 7,800-8,000 rpm! "It's a lot," she says, "but it stays together and it's so much fun to drive." And by the looks of those monster wheelies, we'd agree. Randi Lyn's Pontiac chariot is mighty quick and one she'll ride to victory many more times.

Tech Notes:

Who: Randi Lyn Shipp

Where: Floyds Knobs, IN, but she can be found wherever there's an NHRA national event

What: 1967 Pontiac Firebird

Engine: Randi Lyn's Bird was originally equipped with a 326 H.O. engine developing 285 hp, but these days it makes much more power. To fit in D/SA, Randi Lyn chose the 400-cube engine combination, rated by Pontiac at 325 hp and factored to 338 hp by NHRA. It's meticulously prepared to take full advantage of the Stock Eliminator guidelines and produces north of 500 hp.

Stock rules require the factory carburetor, intake manifold and cylinder heads (with correct casting numbers and no porting), along with stock valves and combustion chamber sizes. Her short-block consists of a factory block and crank with a 4.125x3.750-inch bore and stroke along with Crower rods, CP pistons with Total-Seal rings, a Melling oil pump, and a pan from Stef's Fabrication.

The D-Port heads feature 65cc closed chambers fitted with 2.11-/1.77-inch valves that are activated by a 0.424-inch lift camshaft. There are no rules dictating duration or overlap, so special attention was paid to the cam to maximize breathing at high rpm. The 400 also uses PSI valve springs, Cometic head gaskets; fire in the hole comes from a MSD Digital 7 ignition with Denso plugs.

Transmission/Rearend: The torquey mill sends its power through a Coan Engineering converter and a GM Metric 200 three-speed automatic prepared by ReMax Transmissions. A Turbo 400 would be stronger, but the Metric is lighter and quicker on track. Converter stall is roughly 3,500 rpm.

Chassis/Suspension: Stock Eliminator rules are very specific about what's legal and what's not. Bolt-in aftermarket suspension is okay, as long as it mounts in the stock location. The Firebird has a roll bar and frame connectors for safety and chassis stiffening. Its suspension consists of CalTracs leaf springs and traction bars from Calvert Racing Suspensions and adjustable Santhuff shocks for control. Up front you'll find Santhuff springs and shocks that allow the nose to snap into action.

Brakes: Lightweight Lamb 11-inch manual disc brakes are used to reduce parasitic drag and haul the Poncho from buck-and-a-quarter speeds. The team has employed a dual caliper setup on the rear to more solidly hold the car when she "torque brakes" on the starting line.

Wheels/Tires: Traction and reduced weight is the name of the game for drag racing. Randi Lyn fitted her Bird with lightweight Pro 5 wheels from Mickey Thompson (15x4- and 15-10-inch), along with 9x30-inch radial slicks and short 25-inch tall skinnies from M/T. The short front tires are used to help dial in her reaction time.

Interior: The classic look of the '67 Firebird interior has been retained, save for the necessary racing items. There's a roll bar and harness for safety, and Dick Jones from KB Racing wired the F-body, adding a switch panel to simplify the electrical system. Randi Lyn relies on a Turbo Action Cheetah shifter that she clicks when the VDO tach reaches 6,800 rpm. Those rectangular black panels you see are used to "block" the first two amber lights on the tree. That allows Randi Lyn to focus 100-percent on the last amber, without distraction from the tree coming down. This is done to prevent her from anticipating the last amber. You'll also note the Sparco wheel, Auto-Meter gauges on the cowl, and that blue cup holder.

Multimedia: Randi Lyn spends her time at Jim Butner Auto Sales (jimbutnerauto.com) and Nitro Fish Racing (nitrofish.com). You can follow Randi Lyn on Instagram at @rockitt_shipp and her YouTube channel is "Randi Shipp."

001-1967-pontiac-firebird-randi-lyn-shipp© Hot Rod Network Staff 001-1967-pontiac-firebird-randi-lyn-shipp

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