It’s not every year that fans of the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri get to witness a record-breaking Top Gun run along the three-quarter-mile course, but thanks to several dedicated boat owners and companies, the 35th annual top-speed event presented by Performance Boat Center and hosted at Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill in Sunrise Beach on Saturday and Sunday showcased several performances that are sure to have their own chapter in Shootout history.
Performance Boat Center’s Myrick Coil and Rusty Williams ran Slug Hefner’s 43-foot Skater to a mind-blowing top speed of 194 mph on Sunday during the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Photos
Following Saturday’s competition in rainy and humid conditions, in which several teams eclipsed their previous records including the reigning overall Top Gun champion American Ethanol and the Vision Marine Technologies crew behind the world’s fastest electric boat, the teams were back at it on Sunday with cooler weather and a light swirling breeze on the course. Of the 106 teams that entered the competition, which saw 253 total runs during the two-day contest, many of them were eager to lay down their new personal bests.
Besides the team, which is better described as a massive family, that came to support Don Onken—and his driver Tony Battiato and throttleman John Cosker—as Onken’s quad-engine 51-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran flew down the course on Saturday at 214 mph to earn a ninth straight overall Top Gun award, there weren’t many teams more excited than the Factory Billet crew of Jim Schultz and Mike Faucher following a jaw-dropping 184-mph top speed on Sunday morning in Schultz’s 51-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats V-bottom. The speed, which was 18 mph faster than the team’s previous mark of 166 mph from the 2022 event, was a number they didn’t expect. Find out what they had to say in yesterday’s story.
Cosker, the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Bob Morgan Memorial Hall of Fame member and founder of Mystic Powerboats, called the Saturday run in Onken’s Mystic “incredible.”
“I’m so happy for Don and the team,” Cosker said, after besting the boat’s previous three-quarter-mile course record of 207 mph by 7 mph and getting close to its record of 217 mph on the previous one-mile course. “We had such a fantastic day (on Saturday). The boat had more acceleration off the line than I’ve ever felt before. We didn’t get any test time but Don said ‘Let’s go for broke.’ On our first run we were a little conservative because we didn’t know how the two different ends on the one side of the boat and the other side were going to perform but they ended up pulling great together and the boat hooked up well. Tony got a handle on it really early in the course and the boat accelerated all the way through the finish.
“The crazy part is that we’re still learning the boat,” he added. “I always like to say we have to learn the boat 20 seconds at a time. Unfortunately, we only got about 22 seconds in this year between the 20 seconds on the first run and the two-and-a-half seconds on the second run before a blower issue slowed us down. I would have liked to get more time in the boat today, but it was also a little bit of a relief not to have to run because my family and I got to go boating and enjoy this beautiful lake.”
Veteran boat racer and Performance Boat Center shop foreman Myrick Coil, who was the driver alongside Cosker when American Ethanol won its first Top Gun in 2015 with a 208-mph top speed, made some history with throttleman Rusty Williams on Sunday after running Dirty Duck, a Skater Powerboats 438 catamaran owned by Slug Hefner (below, with Coil) and powered by a pair of 2,000-plus-hp engines from Brummett Marine, to 194 mph. No other boat aside from American Ethanol has ever gone beyond 190 mph on the shorter course, which the event introduced in 2017.
“The boat just comes to life thanks to Carson Brummett’s engines and Slug’s whole program—it’s unbelievable really,” Coil said. “Coming out of the start box, we had a little lag with the turbochargers, but we got back to full throttle and it just took off. I had to tighten it up a few times due to the fact that the wind was pushing us around a little, but we came out the other end at 194 mph, which I wasn’t expecting. Everybody always says to me, ‘Go out there and see how fast it can go, but be safe.’ An oxymoron, I think, is what they call that.
“It’s such a wild feeling to think that I came to the Shootout as a spectator 23 years ago and here we are running the second fastest boat ever on the three-quarter-mile course,” he added. “Earlier in the week everyone at the shop was asking me what I think it would run and I told them I think maybe 180 even though I was really hoping for 190. I always try to predict conservatively. Then yesterday we went 187 and today we took that a step further today thanks to the Brummett power. If we had another yards, we probably could have reached 200 mph.
Coil, who said he’s never driven a boat with Brummett’s engines, was very impressed with the turbocharged powerplants.
“Carson definitely builds one hell of a package because the bilges are dry—if I tried to build those engines, it’d be a mess,” Coil said, then laughed.
Brummett, whose engines powered Predator III, Gary Smith’s 38-foot Skater, to top-speed shootout victories at the Desert Storm Poker Run in April in Arizona and the Texas Outlaw Challenge in June, said this Shootout victory was a special one.
“This (speed) was great because Slug’s Skater is a bigger boat than Gary’s so it’s a little bit harder to accelerate over this course length,” Brummett said. “Gary has had a great run this year and it’s been a great year overall.
“I’m very fortunate to have great customers,” he added. “That’s what it takes; if you don’t have a good client you can’t do it. And my clients are the best—I’m so fortunate.”
Another Skater that bested its mark on Sunday was the Team Yahoo 36-footer powered by twin 2,000-plus-hp Boostpower USA engines. Throttled by owner Curtis Morris and driven by Jamin Jones, the Texas-based teammates upped its 175-mph mark to 180 mph on its second Sunday run (they also made an earlier pass at 174 mph).
The son of the event’s Hall of Fame namesake, Rob Morgan made a big splash during the weekend reaching 102 mph in his 28-foot Skater powered by twin 300-hp Mercury Racing outboard engines. Two of Morgan’s kids, his son, RP, and his daughter, Shelby, also took a shot down the course in the Skater and ran 96 mph and 93 mph, respectively.
Rob Morgan—the son of Bob Morgan, one of the Shootout founders—ran his 28-foot Skater to 102 mph. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
“While (the Shootout) was so much fun and brought back so many memories, we are punching way above our weight owning a boat like Freedom, Jr.,” Morgan said. “The only reason we had a shot is because Jim (Lee, the boat’s previous owner and a former racing teammate of Big Thunder Marine founder Bob Morgan) said it was time for her to come home. I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the memories and experience. I am so appreciative and grateful for everything we’ve been given—especially our family—past and present.”
The owner of an MTI 340X powered by a pair of Mercury Racing 450R engines, Shawn Lewis reached a class-winning 113 mph in his first Shootout with his new 34-foot cat. The Illinois-based performance boater has competed in the Shootout many times in his 38-foot Fountain, but this year was a whole new experience for him.
“I’ve been in my V-hull the last five years so it was exciting to run something different now that we have the cat we purchased from Mike and Kristi Hudson of DockWorks,” Lewis said at Sunday’s awards ceremony. “I didn’t know what to expect the boat to do in three-quarters of a mile but I’m pretty happy with 113 mph. Going from a V-hull to the cat has been a different deal, but we love the cat. As Mike likes to say, ‘Once you go cat, you never go back.’
“I can’t wait to come back next year and try to go faster,” he added. “I do miss the engine noise of my old boat but I this MTI has not disappointed us at all. We’re thankful we have this boat—I love it.”
Check out the slideshow of images above taken by Pete Boden.
Hudson, who took delivery of a new MTI 390X earlier this year, also competed in the Shootout with driver Briana Blaker and reached 115 mph on the course.
The fastest outboard catamaran of the event —Korey and Joe Perog’s 36-foot Wright Performance—upped its top speed on Saturday from 130 mph to 134 mph in its only pass on Sunday.
Amongst the 450R Factory Stock-class raceboats that were competing in the top-speed contest, the 124-mph mark set Saturday by GC Racing’s Willy Cabeza and Gary Ballough in Cabeza’s 39-foot MTI ended up being the fastest of the bunch. TS Motorsports, Taylor Scism and her father, Randy, the founder of MTI, reached 122 mph on Sunday in her 390X, while Ricky Maldonado and 18-year-old Logan Adan hit 120 mph on Sunday in their 38-foot Doug Wright sponsored by Waves and Wheels.
“I’d never been to the Shootout but I looked up some YouTube videos on it and it definitely piqued my interest,” Adan said. “We were pretty focused on getting the boat back together (following an incident in the team’s most recent race in Sheboygan, Wis.) so I didn’t get to some of the other events going on during the Shootout, but running hauling the mail down the course was pretty fun.”
Like many of the offshore racing teams that participated in the event, Adan and Maldanado made sure to keep their equipment in good working condition as they’re headed to St. Petersburg, Fla., for this weekend’s P1 Offshore-produced St. Petersburg Grand Prix.
Illinois’ Shawn Lewis hit 113 mph is his new-to-him 34-foot MTI powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R engines. Photo by Pete Boden
A few other impressive catamaran top speeds were recorded when Florida’s Warren Duke ticked 131 mph on the radar gun in his 28-foot Skater powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R engines, California’s Jake Fraleigh reached 114 mph in a customer’s Eliminator Boats 33 Daytona powered by twin Mercury Racing 700SCi engines, and Steve Grier and Neil Wobbe hit 126 mph in Wobbe’s 2nd Amendment USA Spectre Powerboats 36-footer that was sponsored by SIGWO Arms.
“I had never done the Shootout before but Neil called me and asked if I wanted to drive because his normal driver, Karl (Stanger), couldn’t make it,” said Grier, who is from Oklahoma and ran the course five times on Sunday with Wobbe. “I said yes right away and then I hung up the phone and thought what did I just do? Neil was great at telling me what to do. Once I figured it out after the second pass we communicated better and ended up hitting 126 mph on our last run of the day. The fastest the boats been on the three-quarter course was 125 mph.”
The electric-powered Vision S2 Powerboat cat was one of the most attention-getting boats of the 2023 Shootout. Photo by Pete Boden
Of course one of the most impressive records set during the event went to the Vision Marine Technologies Inc. team after its twin electric-outboard-engine powered 32-foot S2 Power Boats catamaran reached 116 mph with Shaun Torrente at the controls. Torrente gave it another go Sunday morning and reached 111 mph—the same speed he recorded on his first Saturday run.
“This whole thing is a testament to being stubborn, number one, and just not giving up,” Torrente said with a smile. “Both from Vision and from my team at STR (Shaun Torrente Racing), everybody pulled together and just made it happen. It was an amazing thing to see that my guys have gotten so good at what they do that they can put a boat together in six or seven days and have it run flawlessly without anything mechanically going wrong. The team at Vision is so supportive and very commitment to the program. There are bigger and better things to come, which I’m really looking forward to working on.”
A Velocity Powerboats VR1 driven by company owner Scott McCormick hit 107 in the Shootout. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp
Amongst the many V-bottoms competing in the Shootout, Jeff Henry’s 50-foot Outerlimits was the third fastest at 137 mph—after Factory Billet and Dennis and Jason Parvey, who reached 166 mph in their 46-foot Black Thunder on Saturday. The Parveys recorded two runs on Sunday at 156 and 153 mph. New York performance Jack Gladke upped his top speed on Sunday with two 110-mph passes in Red Baron, his 38-footer from Donzi Marine.
Velocity Powerboats owner Scott McCormick looked good on the course in his VR1 powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R engines that he ran to a top speed of 107 mph.
Last but not least, the Recovered Money crew out of Indiana had a blast on Saturday and Sunday as well as the days leading up to the top-speed competition.
Included in the slideshow above are several of Jeff Helmkamp’s images of the event’s fastest V-bottoms and pontoons.
Team owner Nick Evans said running his 50-foot Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats catamaran in the event was a learning experience.
“We didn’t have the best propellers for the boat—we ran 33-inch propellers but we really needed some 30s,” Evans said. “I still think I could have gone faster with the props we had, but I’m not disappointed. I messed up a few things on the first day just trying to get used to the course so it was awesome to come out today and hit 90. I was talking to one of the tech guys and he said he’s never seen a 50-foot Nor-Tech run 90 mph in the Shootout.
“I love this event; we had such a great time,” he added. “The street party was great—we sold lots of shirts and met so many fans. I think we had eight people come by the booth to take a Fireball shot with us.”
Needless to say Evans—and likely every participant interviewed for this story—have already marked their calendars for the 36th annual event scheduled for August 24-25, 2024.
Day One Highlights From The 2023 Lake Of The Ozarks Shootout
Factory Billet’s 184-MPH Lake Of The Ozarks Shootout Mic Drop
Sunday Shootout Action: Factory Billet And The Parveys Returning, Monster Energy/M CON Going Kilo
S2 Powerboats And Vision Marine Up The Electric Power Ante With 111-MPH Shootout Pass
Commentary: Two For The Books
Coverage Of The 2023 Lake Of The Ozarks Shootout