No one sane expects cool weather at the Lake of the Ozarks in July. On the contrary, with an average daytime high of 89 degrees and nighttime low of 69 degrees, July historically is the hottest month of the year at the Central Missouri waterway. But thanks to cooling cloud-cover and intermittent light rainfall, temperatures for yesterday’s fifth annual Big Thunder Marine Baja, Donzi and Fountain Fun Run at the lake hovered in the low-to-mid 70s.
That made things uncommonly comfortable for the 100 Baja, Fountain and Donzi owners and their guests, many of whom arrived in time for a Thursday night BBQ and welcome party at Big Thunder Marine’s Speed And Luxury showroom in Lake Ozark. The owner of Big Thunder Marine and the Baja, Fountain and Donzi brands, Fred Ross covered all of the expenses for the evening.
“It was the most comfortable day we’ve had yet for the BFD Fun Run,” said Jeremy Anderson, the general manager of Big Thunder Marine, which has multiple locations at the lake not to mention facilities in Florida. “And it was the best turnout we’ve ever had for the run—the mix between all three brands was excellent.”
The 100-boat fleet was the largest in the event’s five year history. Photo courtesy Big Thunder Marine
Per its event permit, Big Thunder Marine had to start the run in 10-boat waves. The organizers pulled the Baja, Donzi and Fountain brand-names from a hat to establish the departure order. The first 10 Fountains were followed by the first 10 Donzi models, followed by the first 10 Bajas. The cycle continued until all boats had departed for the day from their H. Toads/Camden On The Lake Resort breakfast location and were on their way to multiple stops
Destinations included the Bear Bottom Resort, Paradise Restaurant, Tap and Grill Lakeside Brew House and Coconuts Beach Bar and Grill.
No Lake of the Ozarks event would be complete without at least one big splashdown.
“A lot of participants use the BFD weekend as a vacation,” said Ed Champion of Big Thunder Marine, who treated relatively new employee Mark Barbour and friends to a ride in a perfectly restored 2003 Fountain 47 Comp repowered with Mercury Racing 1350 engines. “They come into town Thursday night and enjoy the dinner in the showroom, do the run Friday and then hang out together that night on their own. The next day, they might go to places today and tomorrow that we didn’t get to go yesterday.
“They’re building lifelong friends through their loyalty to the brands,” he added.
One of Reggie Fountain, Jr.’s earliest raceboats turned heads at the Lake of the Ozarks yesterday.
Champion described the ride in the 47-footer as an “eye-opener” for Barbour, who came from another dealership focused on the mainstream powerboat market. Yet Big Thunder’s Chad Franzen enjoyed what arguably was the wildest ride of the day in a new 22-foot Donzi Classic powered by a Mercury Racing 565 engine.
While most of the fleet was still at the docks early yesterday morning, he took the 22-footer for a pre-fun-run blast. That was exactly what he had, according to Champion, and Franzen returned from the experience beaming.
And then came the run, which thanks to all the boats on the water, churned up the lake.
“A great mix of all three brands,” that was how Big Thunder’s Jeremy Anderson described yesterday’s fleet.
“Yeah, it was a little rough,” he said, then laughed. “I only made it about two or three miles into the run, then had to turn around.”
Franzen wanted to leave the Donzi at the docks and hop into a bigger boat for the balance of the run, but he couldn’t. Demo rides for prospective buyers kept him busy for the rest of the day.
Brand loyalty and enthusiasm power the Big Thunder Marine-organized BFD Fun Run.
Anderson said he was particularly happy to see “more people from out of the area than ever” participate in the event. The newcomers mixed easily with the BFD veterans—many of whom have done it all five years—such as Chad Prater, the owner of the “world’s fastest Baja.”
Said Anderson, “The BFD run isn’t just for Big Thunder Marine customers—it’s for everyone who loves the Baja, Fountain and Donzi brands.”
Big Thunder Marine’s Chad Franzen started his day with an exhilarating ride in a Donzi 22 Classic powered by a Mercury Racing 565 engine. Photo courtesy Big Thunder Marine.
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