With Factory Billet and American Ethanol, the biggest guns of the 2020 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in the barn after yesterday’s performances, the spotlight today turned primarily to a friendly battle of outboard engine-powered catamarans. That’s isn’t to say sterndrive cats and V-bottoms were absent from today’s competition hosted at Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill in Sunrise Beach, Mo.—far from it—but beyond the excitement about the turbine-powered Low Altitude Mystic, much of the attention centered around cats with dual outboards.
Outboard-powered catamarans—including Performance Boat Center’s Doug Wright raceboat—and other incredible flying machines were the mainstays of today’s Lake of the Ozarks Shootout action. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The fastest cat of the bunch, with a top speed of 127 mph, was the speedy 34-foot Victory Team-built catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R outboards that Victory Powerboats West owner Dale Dondel brought to the Shootout. The longtime performance boater from Southern California thoroughly enjoyed his first trip to the lake and made the most out of the top-speed event making two runs on each day.
“We’re happy with the 127 considering we were stuck on 122, but the boat had a low 130 in it if we could have gotten the props right,” said Dondel, who called the lake “absolutely beautiful.” “We had a great time here—it was my first experience at the lake and we did everything we could. The lake was a great proving ground for the boat, too. It runs great in the rough water here. I’d say I’m off to a pretty good start with these Victory boats.”
No one had more to lose from a poor showing than DCB Performance Boats, which brought its first M37R Widebody catamaran powered by Mercury Racing 450R outboards to the contest. The El Cajon, Calif., company had little time to dial in the 37-footer before hauling it to Central Missouri, and while the boat’s first pass of 119 mph on Sunday was solid, the crew was shooting for 120 mph.
On his second pass behind the wheel of the M37R, DCB’s Tony Chiaramonte got it.
“I am pretty damn happy,” he said. “When we left California I would have been happy with 118 because we had no setup time—we had six to eight guys working 15 days straight to get it here. I was happy with the first pass at 119 and was thinking, ‘I hope I don’t go slower on the next one.’
“I got a little straighter line and a little more rpm, and ran a bit closer to the cliff the second time and we got 120,” he added. “All the people worked so hard to make this and all of those who were pulling for it were like, ‘You guys crushed it.’ I honestly believe this is the coolest and most-detailed sport cat on the market.”
Check out the slideshow above for more images from the final day of the 32nd annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout.
The 120-mph barrier also fell for Fountain Powerboats and its new-for-2020 34 Thunder Cat also equipped with 450R outboards. The boat was piloted by Big Thunder Marine staffer member Gary Sherwin and is owned by Jeff and Megan Fiehler, who live in Wentzville, Mo., and have named the boat Grace. And for somewhat different reasons, the accomplishment was equally important to the Lake Ozark, Mo., Fountain Powerboats, Donzi Marine and Baja Marine dealer as well as Fred Ross, who owns the brands.
“I am really, really happy with it,” Ross said. “The guy who drove it isn’t a professional driver. That tells you anyone can drive this boat and have fun with it. We didn’t do anything to it for the Shootout but change the propellers—it’s a completely stock boat—and those props could stay on the boat without any problem.”
Performance Boat Center’s Rusty Williams was able to crack the 120-mph threshold in the dealership’s 450R-powered Wright Performance 360 when he posted two runs of 122 mph. Williams also joined his Super Stock-class teammate Myrick Coil—a class of 2020 Bob Morgan Memorial Hall of Fame member—in the Performance Boat Center 32-foot Doug Wright canopied cat, and ran a respectable 117 mph.
Williams and Coil ended up two mph behind class Top Gun winners Casey Boaz and Rob Unnerstall in the CR Racing 32-foot Doug Wright. The Jackhammer team of Reese Langheim and Ricky Maldonado had a 114-mph top speed in its 32-foot Victory Team cat.
With five Mercury Racing outboards on its transom and Performance Boat Center’s Rusty Willams at the helm station, this MTI-V 42 had no trouble claiming fastest-center-console honors.
In the outboard-powered center-console ranks, the fleet was smaller than normal. Matthew Resca brought his 37-foot Midnight Express with quad Mercury Racing 400R outboard engines that ran 82 mph. And as if she didn’t have to do enough with last night’s Shootout auction at Super Cat Fest that reportedly raised more than $200,000 for local charities—and speedonthewater.com was delighted to contribute a $1,000 donation—longtime event volunteer and another 2020 Hall of Famer Tiffany Maasen ran a Nor-Tech 340 Sport with triple 300-hp Mercury Marine Verado outboards to 74 mph.
Randy Scism of MTI, a dominant presence at the Lake of the Ozarks for decades, unveiled the Wentzville company’s first five-outboard-powered 42-V center console during Shootout. And in its first and only run down the course today—less than 30 minutes before the course closed—the 42-footer reached 88 mph with Williams piloting the luxury performance center console featuring five 450R engines.
“Driving the MTI-V 42 was pretty fun,” said Williams, who concluded a super busy week with a busy day on the course with five runs on the day, not to mention the exhibition races with the aerobatic plane. “I’d never driven a center console in the Shootout before and it went by faster than I expected. We were on the rev-limiter but I thought 88 mph was pretty fast. I also thought 122 in the Wright 360 was very respectable. We could have used some bigger props, but we really just took a stock boat and gave it a go.”
Speaking of giving it a go, the team behind the Low Altitude 50-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran owned by Shannon Hamilton put a ton of effort into getting back on the course after its disappointing 168-mph pass earlier in the day. The start boat even agreed to keep the course open a little later for the team as it tinkered with some fuel pump issues at the very end of the day while being towed out to the start line.
While it’s hard to call any boat running 168 mph “disappointing,” it was a letdown for Hamilton and his tuner and driver Russell Clay of Clay’s Motorsports. The good news is, it didn’t dampen Hamilton’s spirits and he vows to return next year, talking more smack than ever before.
“I guess you can call us Slow Altitude until we prove otherwise,” Hamilton said then laughed. “Here’s the thing, I came here last year running my mouth in the Gunslinger Nor-Tech and we blew a piston and we didn’t run; then this year we come here with guns blazing and we went a whopping 168. Yes we had issues and could have went faster, but we didn’t. So what does that tell me? I need to come back next year and run my mouth even more.”
The Gainesville, Ga., resident laughed again then pointed out that he has a lot of drag-car racing experience so he’s used to mechanical failures. He was proud of the fact that his crew attempted to try something different with the turbines by adding nitromethane to the methanol fuel.
“Sometimes it’s your day and sometimes it isn’t,” he said. “We just wanted to show that we’re serious about this and we’re willing to try things that have never been done before. We were hoping the nitro would cool the charge and get the EGT down so we could produce more power. But because we didn’t get in a chance to make another run we didn’t get a chance to gather much data. We’re going to continue the R&D—we’re not afraid to break things to get it right, either. And we’re going to come back and be a contender next year, mark my words. Maybe we can talk those My Way guys into coming back so we can whoop those T55s with some T53s.”
A 50-foot Mystic catamaran with T-53 turbine engines, Low Altitude returned to Shootout action for the first time in several years with a 168-mph pass.
South Dakota’s Cory Schmitz also ran into some bad luck when his 33-foot Eliminator had a mechanical failure on the first run of the day and ended up crossing the finish line at 141 mph—21 mph behind yesterday’s top speed. After that, Schmitz was done for the day.
Also joining the fun for the first time this year was South Carolina’s Richard Bennett, who ran his canopied 52-foot MTI catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 1650 engines solo and reached a top speed of 129 mph.
Some of the notable top speeds in the V-bottom field included Todd Goodwin’s 112-mph class-winning run in his Goodwin Competition Racing Engines-powered 42-foot Fountain, Billy Shipley and Chad Woody’s 97-mph top speed in the Team Woody LaveyCraft raceboat and Ed Grimm’s 124-mph pass in Charlie Schaefer’s Cigarette 42X powered by twin Mercury Racing 1350 engines.
Grimm, the Shootout’s tech director, made a nice run down the course and then gave credit to the Shootout registration volunteers who have one of the most-challenging behind-the-scenes jobs at the event.
The only truly disappointing thing about the outboard-powered boats today? Brad Rowland, the reigning king of the pontoon class, remained sidelined with steering issues that he had hoped to have resolved before the competition began.
“With the steering issues it wasn’t safe,” he said. “So I’m heading to Captain Ron’s in my other boat.”
The pontoon fleet was still well represented thanks to the PlayCraft Boats team and the crew at Marty’s Marine. The fastest boat of the bunch was Greg Barsoda’s 27-foot South Bay powered by twin 450R engines that reached 83 mph in one of the last passes of the day. Mike Misplay of Horizon Motorsports in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., ran his twin 450R-powered 30-foot Trifecta a cool 82 mph on Sunday.
Overall, the Shootout saw 189 total runs on the three-quarter-mile course in two days, one of which was significantly impacted by weather. And, according to primary organizer Ron Duggan, more than 90 boats registered for the event, which is the second most since the run moved to Captain Ron’s in 2008.
“We had more boats than we expected; in fact, the whole event was better than expected,” Duggan said. “Not that we expected it to be bad, we just didn’t know how many people were going to show up. Needless to say, we were blown away. The only negative was that the weather prevented us from getting more runs in. Still, it was another all-around success and this community and the 32 charities this run supports are going to reap the rewards.”
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