Yesterday, I got a text message from Kevin Kaczan, who owns the well-known custom Cigarette 36 Gladiator V-bottom dubbed Unleashed with his wife, Kristy. In that text, Kevin let me know they were on their way to this weekend’s Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. With all the boating opportunities at their doorstep in Traverse City, Mich., and the boating season there fading fast, I wondered what inspired them to make the 700-plus mile trek—with a boat in tow—to the annual event on the Central Missouri waterway. So I asked them.
Currently on the road with their boat in tow, the Kaczans are looking forward to competing in the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout for the first time. (Note the helmets and safety vests on the rear seat.)
“We discussed it this winter with a friend who lives at Lake of the Ozarks,” said Kristy. “He called us last week and said, ‘You guys are still coming right?’ That was enough for us.”
That was all the husband-and-wife team needed to hook up Unleashed and its trailer to their Ford F-650 tow vehicle and head south. The 12-hour drive got delayed slightly because Kevin decided to get two new rear tires for the F-650 tow. It was raining and he wanted to make sure they didn’t have any issues with traction.
As I suspected, the Kaczans and their popular boat, which is powered by twin 572-cubic-inch, 750-hp motors with tractor pipes, are already registered for the event’s Poly Lift Poker Run tomorrow. (Their friend Shane Poehling, who is local to the area, will ride with them.) But the bigger news is that they’re planning to compete in the Shootout on Saturday, if necessary, Sunday.
Scenes from an ongoing and upcoming adventure.
Although they didn’t register for the top-speed contest in advance, they have all the required safety equipment including Lifeline race jackets and five-point safety harnesses on their seats. They plan to go through pre-shootout inspection after the poker run. The boat has intercoms with headsets, but Kristy said their helmets do not have the intercoms so they will be communicating with hand signals when on the shootout course. Since they bought the boat, Kevin has throttled and Kristy has driven.
They haven’t participated in any type of shootout in the past, but Kristy said they’re not nervous. “We’ve never practiced or anything for this,” she said. “We’re always just hammering down wherever we go.”
The Kaczans will enter in the V-bottom surface drive, naturally aspirated class, which Kristy thinks they have a chance to win. She wouldn’t specify a number, but it will be in excess of 100 mph.