During the past 10 years, the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout fans have come to expect at least one 200-plus-mph performance. American Ethanol, a 51-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran driven by Tony Battiato and throttled by company owner John Cosker, had gone seven for seven with such performances since 2014—the same year the Spirit of Qatar Mystic cat reached an untouchable 244 mph on the then mile-long course at the annual Central Missouri event.
Although the team didn’t reach its 200-plus-mph goal, Don Onken’s American Ethanol Mystic still won its seventh straight overall Top Gun title at the 33rd annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
But it wasn’t to be this year. On Saturday, Battiato and Cosker led off with a slow-pokey, at least for them, 175-mph run on the three-quarter-mile course. The longtime cockpit duo followed that up with 180- and 184-mph passes before the course closed for the day, and vowed to return on Sunday.
And return they did with a top speed on their first pass of 190 mph. That run cost them a blower belt on one of their four piston engines that combine to a total output of 12,000-plus hp, but they replaced the belt and headed back out. About an hour before the course closed, Cosker and Battiato ran the 51-footer to 194 mph, enough for overall Top Gun honors but still shy of the 200-mph club of which they are charter members.
“We were working with a sick motor all weekend but we made the best of it,” Cosker said. “I am happy for Don (Onken, the boat’s owner)—it’s American Ethanol’s seventh overall Top Gun win in a row.”
Minus Dennis and Jason Parvey in their 43-foot Black Thunder V-bottom this year, the Factory Billet crew of owner/driver Jim Schultz and Mike Faucher still came out from Chicagoland for a 161-mph blast on Saturday that, though shy of last year’s Shootout record-setting 164-mph performance, was close to perfection. A map sensor issue, according to Faucher, kept them from making another run.
Check out the slideshow above for more images from Sunday’s action on the three-quarter-mile course.
As it happened, several of Schultz’s business associates had flown into town to watch the boat in action from a center console in the spectator fleet. One pass down the course would have to be enough.
“I had planned on doing two or three runs, but Murphy got us,” Schultz said. “About halfway down the course, the port engine stumbled for a millisecond and then regained power. We found out we had a faulty map sensor. I considered having a new sensor flown in, but it wasn’t the time or place to start trouble-shooting stuff.
“But we are happy with our 161-mph run stumbling down the course,” he added, then chuckled. “We’ll regroup and come back next year.”
Also out of the Sunday’s competition with a great result in the bank was longtime Fountain Powerboats V-bottom man Ben Robertson, Jr. of BAR Marine Group in South Carolina. On Saturday, Robertson ran a 42 Lightning powered by Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines to 152 mph. He exceeded his self-determined goal of 150 mph. Rather than push the recently powered boat that belongs to a BAR Marine Group client who lives in Sweden, Robertson opted out of Sunday’s runs.
“There’s more in it if you had another mile or two,” Robertson said. “But the weather was too hot and too humid, so I thought 152 mph was good enough.
“I really have to give credit to Tom Cretts, the crew chief of this project,” he added.
Thanks to Tyler Crockett of Ruby, Mich., and his 26-foot, open-cockpit V-bottom powered by a 3,000-plus-hp engine, fans who may have been disappointed that Factory Billet and Robertson’s Fountain didn’t run Sunday had nothing to complain about. Crockett’s wobbly, 123-mph pass on Saturday was not a thing of beauty, but his Sunday performance was simply gorgeous.
With a piston going bad in his alcohol-fueled engine, Crockett ran his 26-footer to 134 mph. It was his strongest Lake of the Ozarks Shootout performance to date and the fastest for a single-engine V-bottom in the event’s 33-year history.
“I’ll be back next year,” he said. “My new goal is 140 mph.”
A couple of radical 50-foot Outerlimits V-bottoms powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350/110 engines—one competing in the professional class and one in the nonprofessional class—went the exact same speed, 135 mph. Bob Pulte of Pulte Performance Marine in Nebraska won his nonprofessional class while Henry, also from Nebraska, finished second in his class behind Factory Billet.
First-time Shootout competitors comprised close to half of the field last weekend. Among those was Jack Gladke of Upstate New York who had a goal of his own—to run his Donzi Marine 38 ZRC V-bottom powered by Mercury Racing 700SCi engines to triple digits. After running his 2008 model-year 38-footer to 106 mph and 107 mph in his first and second passes with his co-pilot Joe Laquitara on Saturday, Gladke opted out of Sunday’s competition to relax in advance of their 1,000-plus-mile journey home with the boat in tow.
New York’s Jack Gladke exceeded his Shootout expectations with a 107-mph run in his 38-foot Donzi. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Photos.
No one departed the 2021 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout more satisfied than Gladke.
“It was an absolutely awesome experience—really a dream come true,” said Gladke, who ran his 38-footer called Red Baron with Laquitara in Vermont at the third annual Lake Champlain Poker Run on the weekend prior to the Shootout. “This is something Joe and I have talked about doing for 20 years. Our goal was just to make a triple-digit, clean pass at the Shootout.
“To be so fortunate to win our class and have the support from our wives and families back home as well as all the local people of Missouri was a truly humbling experience,” he added. It’s going to take some time to sink in.”
A Lake of the Ozarks Shootout second-timer, New Jersey’s Del Flores did run both days in his 39-foot Velocity and it paid off in more ways than one for the Spartan Powerboat Club founder. On Saturday, he piloted the boat, which is powered by Mercury Racing 500 EFI engines upgraded with 3.3-liter Whipple superchargers, to 100 mph. Sunday’s run saw him improve on that result.
“I actually heat-stroked Saturday,” he said. “It was really hard.
“But the funniest part is (Shootout broadcast team member) Bob Teague swore I wasn’t going to go as fast as I did on Saturday,” Flores said, then laughed. ‘He actually said ‘I stand corrected’ when I ran 101 mph on Sunday.”
David Weyer, an inductee of the 2021 Bob Morgan Memorial Hall of Fame class, also improved his top speed in his 32-foot Advantage Boats V-bottom from 90 mph on Saturday to 92 mph on Sunday.
Newly inducted Shootout Hall of Famer David Weyer reached a 92-mph top speed in his Advantage V-bottom.
Another V-bottom that made notable improvements on Sunday was Shawn Lewis’ 38-foot Fountain powered by twin 700-hp Mercury Racing engines. On Saturday, the Ursa, Ill., performance boater ran twice, reaching 96 and 99 mph. On Sunday, Lewis came out firing with four passes—one at 102 mph and three at a whopping 104 mph.
“I’m very happy with the results,” Lewis said when asked how it felt to blow past the 100-mph mark for the first time at the event—his fastest speed in 2020 was 98 mph. “I’m a good listener and apply what I hear from other more-experienced racers. The last four years, Ed Champion and Big Thunder Marine has supported my race efforts by giving me advice and letting me use a slip to park during the Shootout. This year, Ben Robertson also gave me some great advice Saturday; he even let me try a set of props. He is a big reason I hit 104 mph on Sunday.”
Lewis also gave credit to his wife of 31 years, Shaila, and their four wonderful children.
Running the same speed on Sunday as Lewis but in a much different boat—a 31-foot Awesome Thundercat—Ricky Amos and Cynthia O’Neill of the Race For A Cure team made a 7-mph jump from their 97-mph run on Saturday. The couple, whose goal is to continue to raise awareness and money toward the fight to cure cancer, was pleased with Sunday’s 104-mph top speed.
Mark Cooper, the first-time racer from California who ran a very respectable 134 mph on Saturday, upped that mark by 2 mph with a 136-mph pass in his DCB Performance Boats F32 catamaran powered by twin 1,200-hp Teague Custom Marine engines.
Texas performance boater Chad Havens reached 157 mph in his 40-foot Skater catamaran on Sunday.
The fastest catamaran not named American Ethanol, was the Texas-based Team Yahoo crew, which went 160 mph on Saturday in throttleman Curtis Morris’ 36-foot Skater. Morris and driver Jamin Jones didn’t need to make a second pass the next day as their closest competitors—Chad Havens and Anthony Smith in Haven’s 40-foot Skater—made one attempt on Sunday, reaching 157 mph to improve on its 154-mph pass the day before.
Laying claim to three class victories, the team at Performance Boat Center—the title sponsor of the event for several years running—had a strong showing on Sunday.
Not only did the Osage Beach-based dealership and service center’s salesman and offshore race team member Rusty Williams reach 126 mph (2 mph faster than his Saturday run) in a Wright Performance 360 with twin Mercury Racing 450R engines, he and his teammate Myrick Coil ended up being the fastest Super Stock-class raceboat in the fleet when they went 118 mph in the team’s 32-foot canopied Doug Wright to edge out the CR Racing team of Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall that went 116 mph in its Doug Wright.
Patrick Bobby drove the electric-powered Bruce 22 to a top speed of 49 mph on Sunday.
The other class win for Performance Boat Center came after Michael Hall, a salesman for the dealership, ran a twin-engine 32-foot Sunsation to 76 mph.
Also improving upon his performance on Sunday, Vision Marine Technologies’ Patrick Bobby reached 49 mph in the Bruce 22 with an electric 180-hp E-Motion outboard engine—an impressive feat no doubt even though it was the slowest boat in the event.
Editor’s note: For complete results from the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, click here.