For the spectators onsite and the audience watching online and on TV looking to see record-breaking big speeds from the typical top guns at the Lake of the Shootout in Central Missouri on Saturday, there likely was a little disappointment as the only possible 200-plus-mph entry in the mix—American Ethanol, the 50-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran owned by Don Onken and the six-time defending overall Top Gun winner—reached 184 mph during its third pass on the 33rd annual event’s three-quarter-mile course.
Although teammates John Cosker and Tony Battiato expected to run faster in owner Don Onken’s American Ethanol 50-foot Mystic catamaran, they still ran 184 mph to post the fastest speed of the day during Saturday’s Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
Other than the three top speeds produced by throttleman John Cosker, the founder of Mystic Powerboats in DeLand, Fla., and driver Tony Battiato in the 50-footer that also reached speeds of 175 mph and 180 mph, the next closest top speed was the 161-mph pass laid down by the reigning V-bottom Top Guns Jim Schultz and Mike Faucher in the 51-foot Factory Billet Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats V-bottom. Read the story from earlier today about each team’s plans for Sunday.
Just two Texas-based catamarans—Jamin Jones and Curtis Morris went 160 mph in Morris’ Team Yahoo 36-foot Skater, and Anthony Smith and Chad Havens went 154 mph in Haven’s Savage 40-foot Skater—topped 150 mph and one V-bottom—a 42-foot Fountain driven by BAR Marine Group’s Ben Robertson at 152 mph—eclipsed that mark. In all, 107 runs were attempted by boats of all types and sizes for Saturday’s event, which saw a record-breaking number of registrations. You can see the complete results here.
The Texas-based Team Yahoo crew of driver Jamin Jones and throttleman Curtis Morris made one pass, a flawless-looking 160-mph run, down the Shootout course in Morris’ 36-foot Skater.
Overall, today’s runs were highlighted by many first-time participants and a slew of competitors that upped their class records despite slightly muggy conditions and a light wind out of the southeast.
No stranger to top-speed events, Ben Robertson, a veteran offshore racer who set the former APBA-sanctioned kilo run record at 171.880 mph alongside Fountain Powerboats founder Reggie Fountain in 2004, said he was happy with the 152-mph top speed.
“I think I could have gone a little faster but it was pretty hot and humid out there,” said Robertson, who was running Swedish performance boater Christian Dahlberg’s 2008 model-year 42-footer that Dahlberg sent stateside to be repowered with dual-calibration Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines by Robertson’s business in Jacksonboro, S.C. “I’m done for the weekend—we’re very happy with 152 mph. If I ran 148 mph a second time, I would have gone back out again. The boat will run in the 160s easily, but on a three-quarter-mile course that is a lot to ask of it. It’s a full pleasure boat with a cabin, head, air conditioning and all the bells and whistles. The boat feels solid—it’s such a smooth-running boat. I wish we had another 1,000 hp because it could handle it.”
Ben Robertson of BAR Marine Group in South Carolina ran 152 mph in a 42-foot Fountain Powerboats V-bottom powered by twin Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines.
Robertson was quick to thank Fred Ross, Jeremy Anderson and the rest of the team at Big Thunder Marine in Lake Ozark, Mo., for all of their support.
“It takes a lot of teamwork to do something like this,” Robertson said, adding that his former boss called him to say he was impressed after watching him run on the livestream. “Reggie was excited. He said he wants me to build him one just like it now.”
Reached by phone after Saturday’s competition, Reggie Fountain said that Robertson did a great job representing the brand Fountain started in 1979 and is still involved with on a consulting basis.
“I thought the boat was running really good out there,” Fountain said. “The 42 is probably the fastest, best-handling boat we ever built. The 47 was a great offshore raceboat but the 42 has always been the fastest. I loved seeing Ben’s boat and all of the Fountains running on the course today.”
One of the most memorable runs of the day was the first one—a 123-mph pass by reigning Shootout veteran Tyler Crocket, who made just one run in his 26-foot Joker V-bottom.
In his only pass of the day, Michigan’s Tyler Crockett hung it all out in his 26-foot Joker.
Another veteran competitor—fan favorite Brad Rowland, who owns the triple-400-plus-hp outboard-equipped 25-foot South Bay tri-toon dubbed Tuned In—was pleased with his 113-mph top speed as it was one mph faster than his 112-mph run in 2019.
“I’m happy with what I got today—it’s faster than I’ve ever been on the shorter course,” said Rowland, whose fastest Shootout speed was 114 mph in 2016, the last year of the one-mile course. “It felt great and it’s enough for me this year. I’m planning to lay low tomorrow; there’s no need to push it. Next year I’ll get my stuff together a little sooner—I’m always scrambling at the last minute—and set the bar a little higher.”
Chad Prater, the owner of a Baja Marine 35 Outlaw with twin 900-plus-hp engines that is undoubtedly the fastest Baja in the world, also was happy with his 118-mph top speed and is likely not going to run tomorrow, unless, of course, his closest non-professional V-bottom competitor—first-time participant Karl Waite who ran 113 mph and 116 mph in his 42-foot Fountain—happens to improve by a couple of mph.
Kansas performance boater Chad Prater was pleased to improve his top speed by one mile per hour in his 35-foot Baja.
“The boat ran really good today—I wanted to run 120 mph this year and I think the boat would have done it had I not backed off about three-quarters of the way down the course after I felt a crosswind from my left shift the boat a little,” said Prater, who is from Shawnee, Kan., after needing just one attempt to improve upon his best Shootout top speed, a 117-mph run in the 2017 event. “I was still running 109 mph when I got back on it and it was pulling hard back there. I changed the pulley on the blower from a 46 tooth to a 43 tooth and that made a difference. If I would have stayed in it, I’m certain it would have run 120 mph. I guess that’s what keeps me coming back.”
Longtime Shootout participant, supporter and Bob Morgan Memorial Hall of Fame class member Tim Kowalski, who owns Bio-Kleen in Kalamazoo, Mich., made one pass today with his better half, Tracy Kowalski, alongside him. It was Tracy’s first time doing the Shootout and Tim’s first time running down the course in their 2015 Sunsation Boats 34 CCX powered by triple Mercury Racing Verado 400R engines that they purchased almost a year ago. For many years, Kowalski and his 1993 Cigarette Racing Team 35 Café Racer sportboat have been a staple at the event.
And while the run was a little different because of the style of boat, today the Kowalskis reached 80 mph—they plan to run again Sunday—which is the identical top speed he’d been in his Cigarette on the three-quarter-mile course. (On the one-mile course, his best speed was 82 mph.)
With his wife, Tracy, by his side, Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Hall of Fame member Tim Kowalski ran his Sunsation 34 CCX to 80 mph.
“Tracy loved it—she was smiling from ear to ear after we finished,” Tim Kowalski said. “It’s certainly a fun boat to drive. I think we had an extra 800 pounds of fuel in the boat today, not to mention all the cargo stuff that we have onboard. We have 14 life vests on it, beach towels, coolers, plates, cups, you name it. It’s not really set up as a Shootout boat if you know what I mean.”
He laughed, adding that the Shootout is much more than the two days of racing.
“We always have so much fun here at the lake,” he said. “Our favorite part is the Wishing On A Ride event. The Shootout on the Strip is a ton of fun, too.”
Enjoy another 25 images from speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden in the slideshow above.
With a couple of passes on the course, the slowest boat of the day—a Bruce 22 with an electric 180-hp E-Motion outboard driven by Patrick Bobby—actually set a record for fastest electric-powered in Shootout history with a 46-mph top speed. The team behind the project, Montreal, Canada’s Vision Marine Technologies, was thrilled with the accomplishment.
Similarly happy with her results, driver Taylor Scism, the customer relations manager for Marine Technology Inc., in Wentzville, Mo., who grew up coming to the Shootout, made two passes with her father—MTI founder Randy Scism on the throttles—in the TS Motorsports 390X MTI canopied raceboat. The duo reached 120 and 122 mph on its two runs, which was faster than the 118-mph top speed it reached at the inaugural Tiki Lee’s Shootout On The River in July.
After running a top speed of 116 mph, the crew in the CR Racing Super Stock-class Doug Wright catamaran—Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall—was pleased with its day one performance, as was the M CON Supercat-class team’s Jake Leckliter and Tyler Miller who ran 124 mph in Miller’s Skater 388 catamaran.
A couple of other notable outboard-powered catamaran runs included Rusty Williams of Performance Boat Center reaching 124 mph in a Wright Performance 360 and Tony Chiaramonte of DCB Performance Boats getting to 118 mph in the Kris and Shelby Hansen’s M37R Widebody. Both boats were powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R engines.
In a break in the racing action mid-day on Saturday, Performance Boat Center’s Super Stock-class teammates Myrick Coil and Rusty Williams took part in an exhibition race with the Brian Correll Air Shows acrobatic aerial stunt plane.
Another first-timer in the event was California’s Mark Cooper, who ran his DCB Performance Boats F32 catamaran, which is powered by twin 1,200-hp Teague Custom Marine engines, to a top speed of 134 mph on his second pass. In his first attempt, which he said was filled with rookie jitters, he went 129 mph. He added that the nerves started hitting him last night and that he had “gameday nerves” this morning before he made his first run at 11:15 a.m.
“On my first run, everything about it was my first time,” Cooper said. “It was my first time checking in on VHF radio, my first time making the run up to the start boat and my first time ever driving my boat with a helmet on. Fortunately a few of my friends, including Bob Teague, who owned my boat before I bought it in 2015, gave me some tips so I had a plan. I pretty much stuck to that game plan, too, but I should have been watching my trim gauge a little better because I was slightly off. I thought I crossed the finish line at 131 mph but they clocked me at 129 mph.
“I immediately went straight back to the starter to make a second run,” he continued. “My nerves were gone and I had a better feel for what I needed to do. I felt like I nailed it so that’s the run I’m going to stick with and call it good. I showed 134 mph at the end and that’s what the radar guns had. I think it helped that I pointed the boat toward the correct buoy the second time around. I definitely felt like I didn’t need to do a third one.”
California performance boater Mark Cooper ran 134 mph in his DCB F32 catamaran in his first time at the Shootout.
Cooper had never done the Shootout, but has been to the lake many times in the past with his in-laws. In fact, he even purchased a couple of boats—a 24-foot Baja and a 30-foot Spectre—from the late, great Bob Morgan, who founded Big Thunder Marine and is the namesake of the Shootout Hall of Fame.
“I thought this was going to be a one-and-done, cross-it-off-my-bucket-list thing, but now that I’ve done it and experienced the whole ‘Shootout week,’ I’m thinking this is a must-do event every year,” Cooper said. “I already know of two guys, at least, who told me, after seeing all of my son Brogan’s social media post, that they were coming to the Shootout next year.”
Surely Cooper and his friends aren’t the only ones starting to plan their trip to the 2022 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout even though there’s still one more day left.
Editor’s note: Look for highlights from day two of racing late Sunday evening.