Without at least one significant challenge to face, the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout hosted at Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill in Sunrise Beach, Mo., wouldn’t be an “official” 2020 event. Every high-performance happening so far this year—meaning the few that weren’t cancelled—have had to clear some kind of hurdle. For the first competition day of the 32nd annual top-speed contest, that hurdle was weather.
A veteran Lake of the Ozarks Shootout competitor, California’s John Caparell ran his new 24-foot Twister Widebody catamaran powered by a Mercury Racing 300R engine and reached his goal with a respectable 100-mph top speed. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
By late morning, rain came down in sheets and forced organizers to postpone all runs on the three-quarter-mile course. A few hours later, the course was opened and the runs were extended an hour until 5 p.m. to get more participants involved. In all, minus the personal watercraft that ran first thing in the morning, the spectator fleet saw 68 runs from more than 40 of the 67 registered boats.
Before the weather delay, there were several noteworthy performances, starting with Tyler Crockett’s hair-raising, 113-mph pass. Early in the run, the fan-favorite Michigander’s 26-foot Joker powerboat equipped with a 3,000-hp alcohol-fueled entered a violent chine walk that didn’t quit until Crockett cleared the end of the course.
“I tried a new prop and I think it had way too much transom lift,” Crockett said. “I’m putting on the prop I ran with last year and I’ll run tomorrow.
“I think it’s going to rain here for the rest of the day,” he continued. “I’ll be ready first thing in the morning.”
Michigan’s Tyler Crockett is hoping to run his 26-foot Joker V-bottom faster than 113 mph on Sunday.
With friendly rivals Dennis and Jason Parvey unable get their 43-foot Black Thunder ready in time, Jim Schultz and Mike Faucher are—for all intents and purposes—competing against themselves this weekend in the fastest V-bottom class. But that doesn’t mean they took it easy during their morning run in Factory Billet, a 51-foot Outerlimits powered by flexible fuel 1,950/1,650-hp turbocharged Factory Billet engines with new water-jacketed turbochargers and electronic waste gates.
With 160 gallons of fuel on board, Schultz and Faucher boiled the Lake of the Ozarks waters with a 164-mph pass, which is a class-record for the Shootout and the boat itself.
“I don’t know if people could see it from the shore or livestream, but there was six inches to one-foot of chop out there,” said Schultz. “It was the roughest I’ve ever seen it.
“I’m thrilled with 164,” he added. “I was a little late coming out of the start and I wish we could have gotten 165. But we got the big number today. I’m not sure what we’re going to do tomorrow.”
The current overall top speed belongs to, no surprise, the Onken Racing Team’s American Ethanol Mystic Powerboats catamaran, the overall Top Gun-winning boat for five straight years. An hour into the day, throttleman John Cosker, the founder of Mystic in DeLand, Fla., and driver Tony Battiato, of team sponsor Big Thunder Marine in Lake Ozark, rattled off its best speed of the day 202 mph. The team followed up with a 201 mph run after the course re-opened, and Cosker isn’t sure if the boat will run again tomorrow.
“That’s up to Don; those guys will go back and collect data and asses the mechanicals, and then they will make a decision,” said Cosker, who was happy to see one of his customers, Brandon Mayer of Sweetwater Landing in Fort Myers, Fla., run his 40-foot pleasure boat powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R engines up to 96 mph on the course today. “We got a terrible start in the first run or we might have gone faster. One engine was pulling a little harder in the beginning and we had a headwind on the bow so we fought with it for a few seconds to get it squared up. We got 202 so we were happy with that especially since we’re running new props.
“In the second run, I screwed up and trimmed down right toward the end to try to get a bit more speed and it didn’t help,” Cosker continued. “It also was pouring down rain. It wasn’t easy to see but Tony said he could so he picked a line and we went for it. We’re still learning how the boat reacts with the new Hering propellers. We have a set of 35s like the ones we’ve used the last five years, but they have a different rake and a little bigger hubs. They seem to manipulate the boat a little more, which could be a good thing. We just haven’t been able to test them enough.”
Cosker paused, then chuckled, adding, “It’s hard to learn how a boat runs in 20-second increments.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images from day one of the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.
The only DCB Performance Boats catamaran to run today—Liquid Damages, an M31 owned by Southern California’s Jeff Clark and piloted by the El Cajon, Calif., company’s own Tony Chiaramonte—notched a respectable 145-mph run before the two-hour rain delay. Chiaramonte, who has driven more DCB cats than anyone in the event’s history, said he struggled to build momentum in the first part of the course.
“I had to lift three times because of the rollers on the course,” he said. “But I hit it again and the boat jumped out of the water—and still got 145.”
After the rain-hold lifted, Chiaramonte got right back at it. His second run, which looked smoother from the start, yielded a 147-mph top speed.
Another Southern California boater—San Diego’s John Caparell—showed off his 24-foot Twister Widebody catamaran powered by a single Mercury Racing 300R engine, and he hit the century mark, which was his goal for the day. He hit 98 mph before the rain delay and 100 mph after it.
“I dedicated my first run to Scott Reichow of Mercury Racing—he’s been a true friend for a long time and I wanted to recognize him for everything he’s done for me over the years,” said Caparell, who also brought his twin Mercury Racing OptiMax 300XS-powered 32-foot Doug Wright Poker Run Edition cat to play around with at the lake this week. “I’m happy with how the boat ran today—100 mph was my goal. The first run was pretty rough. Fortunately this is a fun boat to drive.”
Despite his plan to hold off competing again till tomorrow, Crockett lined up for another run after the delay. His was to be the second-to-last run of the day. But a mechanical issue kept him from making a pass.
“I lost spark,” he said. “I’ll go back and check it out.”
Check out the slideshow of Super Stock-class raceboats that competed in today’s top-speed contest.
In the competitive Super Stock class, the CR Racing Doug Wright cat owned by teammates Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall hit 117 mph and is sitting on top of the leaderboard ahead of Reese Langheim and Ricky Maldonado in the Jackhammer Victory cat, which ran 112 mph. Bill Allen was joined in the cockpit of his Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping Doug Wright by his good friend’s daughter, Sabrina Kowalik, and they reached 103 mph. The Auto Alert/Performance Boat Center team of Myrick Coil (one of five members of the event’s 2020 Bob Morgan Memorial Hall of Fame class) and Rusty Williams only ran in the exhibition against the aerobatic aircraft, but Coil said they will make an official pass in the Doug Wright tomorrow.
Coil, who made two passes with Tyler Miller, owner of the M-Con Skater 438 raceboat, one at 120 mph and the other at 119 mph, said he also is going to run a Wright Performance 360 cat with twin 450R engines on Sunday.
Tyler Miller and Myrick Coil ran the M-Con Skater 438 raceboat to 120 mph on Saturday.
“We’re going to put our head mechanic/crew chief Jake Leckliter in the boat tomorrow,” Miller said. “He’s an employee of Performance Boat Center and has been with us for three years now and is always the first guy to the pits at every race getting the boat ready. He deserves a shot in the seat in front of his hometown and all of his co-workers for his first pass at the Shootout.
“I told Jake he only has to run 121 mph tomorrow and he’ll have bragging rights on his boss—the Hall of Famer—every day at work for a year,” he added with a laugh.
Another twin 450R-powered catamaran in the mix that put up a solid number Saturday was the 34-foot Victory Team-built boat that Dale Dondel of Victory Powerboats West in Southern California ran up to 122 mph.
Brad Harrington, who is also a member of this year’s Hall of Fame class, said he plans to run his Team Kansas 28-foot Sabre Cyclone V-bottom two or more times Sunday after making one pass today at 86 mph. Harrington, who has won his class for 14 straight years and ran 87 mph last year, said he’s had a fantastic time at the Shootout this week.
Last, but certainly not least, was first-time Shootout participant Cory Schmitz’s performance in his Eliminator Boats 33 Daytona catamaran, Fatal Attraction. You might remember the name as it was the boat that Greg Olson ran 192 mph in 2012 to win the overall Top Gun title. Now repowered with 1,650-plus-hp engines from Todd’s Performance Specialties in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and resurfaced with a new interior from Eliminator Boats, the 33-footer was the third fastest boat of the day, sitting behind only American Ethanol and Factory Billet.
In his first time running in the Shootout, South Dakota’s Cory Schmitz drove his 33-foot Eliminator Boats catamaran 162 mph.
“The boat felt very solid today—it set really well and felt happy running down the track,” said Schmitz, who hails from South Dakota. “I wanted to make a second pass today but there wasn’t enough time. I think we can do better tomorrow—162 mph is fast, but there’s a lot more in it. And obviously everyone knows what the boat is capable of running. I’ve spent a lot of time getting comfortable in the boat and can’t wait to give it another go.
“The people here have been so supportive, as have the guys who used to work on the boat for Greg,” he added. “Everyone wants to come up and talk about the boat. It was at the docks at Captain Ron’s today and it was cool how many people stopped by to see it. DCB’s Tony Chiaramonte, who used to work at Eliminator, even gave me some words of encouragement today. He told me to keep the boat down at the end of the track because at the end of the day all we’re getting it a plaque.”