For the past five years, the team at Big Thunder Marine in Lake Ozark, Mo., has poured a lot of resources into putting together the Baja, Fountain and Donzi Fun Run—BFD for short—for its wide-ranging customer base on the Lake of the Ozarks. And during that time, the participation from the owners of Baja Marine, Fountain Powerboats and Donzi Marine models dating back 10, 20, even 30 years ago has been encouraging, to say the least.
The fifth annual Big Thunder Marine-organized BFD Fun Run started Friday morning at Camden on the Lake Resort in Lake Ozark, Mo. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Photos
“This year’s turnout was impressive, especially for the heat,” Big Thunder Marine’s Ed Champion said. “We had 85 registered boats, and I’m not sure how many others showed up. I was amazed at how many people came out for the run and for Thursday night’s party. I want to thank everyone for showing up and spending time with us—we appreciate it more than you know.”
Champion, Jeremy Anderson—the dealership’s general manager—and the rest of the Big Thunder Marine crew hosted a well-attended welcome party at the Big Thunder Marine Speed and Luxury showroom on Thursday evening in which several new boats were on display, including outboard-powered catamarans and center consoles from Fountain and a sterndrive-powered Donzi 38 ZRC. The relatively new Cigarette Racing Team dealer also had a new Cigarette 42 Auroris powered by four Mercury Racing 450R engines sitting next to the world’s fastest Baja—Chad Prater’s 35-foot V-bottom.
Prater, who reached 118 mph in the 35-footer at the 2021 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, said he finished up a complete re-rig of the boat just in time for the fun run.
“The run was fantastic as usual,” Prater said. “It was hot but there’s nothing you can do about that. Everybody seemed to have a good time and the Big Thunder Marine team did a great job with everything. Thursday’s gathering was fun and it was cool that they asked to put my boat in the showroom. I’m always happy to help wherever I can.
“It’s kind of funny because we didn’t have any motors or drives in the boat 10 days ago,” he continued with a laugh. “We’re using the same engines but we redid all the hoses and fittings and cleaned pretty much everything up. All the water and fuel lines are new and we redid the wiring harnesses and updated the ignition boxes and distributors. We also completely updated the dash—now it has a 16-inch Garmin display on the driver side and a 12-inch Garmin on the passenger side.”
Chad Prater and a couple of friends enjoyed the fun run in his 35-foot Baja.
The Shawnee, Kan.-based boater handled all of the rigging on his boat—he said the only thing he doesn’t do himself are drive rebuilds—and that his good friends, Erik Radzins and Brian Baldry, stepped in to help with the engine tuning and electronics.
“We barely fired up the engines before we rolled to the lake on Thursday,” he said, adding that he gets most of his parts from Teague Custom Marine in Valencia, Calif. “It ran pretty well all the way from Camden on the Lake to Bare Bottoms on Friday morning. We’re planning to do some tuning while we’re at the lake this weekend to get ready for this year’s Shootout.”
Prater said he’s hoping to eclipse the 120-mph mark on the three-quarter-mile course at the end of August. “The water and weather have to be just right, but I think we can get there,” he explained.
Powered by twin Mercury Racing 300R engines, Nick Pollard’s Fountain 34 Thunder Cat was one of the coolest cats at the BFD Fun Run.
Event first-timer Nick Pollard, a Colorado resident who owns a home at the lake with his brother, said he was impressed with Friday’s turnout.
“That was my first time at the fun run and in my opinion it was a first-class event,” said Pollard, who took delivery of a Fountain 34 Thunder Cat powered by twin Mercury Racing 300R engines in early May. “The Big Thunder guys are awesome. They did a great job with the event.”
Pollard said his boat received a lot of attention during the fun run and that it performed remarkably well with his brother and his best friend on board. He added that he’s planning to have the boat at Super Cat Fest and the Shootout On The Strip during next month’s Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.
Check out the slideshow above for more images of Baja, Donzi and Fountain models in the Big Thunder Marine-hosted BFD Fun Run.
The owners of one of several Fountain 38 Sport Console center consoles on hand for the event, local boaters from St. Louis Bob and Angie Rickard also enjoyed their first BFD Fun Run in Hellion, their 38-footer that is powered by triple Mercury Marine Verado 400 engines and delivered to the couple in September 2020.
“There were a lot more boats than expected,” said Bob Rickard, who admitted he didn’t know about the event until Champion texted him earlier in the week. “I told Angie, ‘That sounds like fun, maybe we should do it.’ She agreed and I’m glad she did.
“It was pretty hot and personally I think having 10 stops was a bit too much to try to get to in one day, but we still had fun,” he added. “We love the boat and enjoy running the hell out of it every chance we get. We’ve been using it a lot this summer. We have a Sea Ray 48 Sundancer and pretty much every time we walk down to the dock we choose the Fountain. It’s always a great option.”
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