LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — Don Onken’s American Ethanol was the fastest boat at the Shootout for the fifth year in a row, as he, throttleman John Cosker, and driver Tony Battiato proudly hoisted the Top Gun trophy at Sunday’s award’s ceremony.
The boat, a 50-foot Mystic catamaran with four ethanol-powered engines pushing over 7,000 horsepower, had a rough start to the weekend. Saturday morning, it ran 143 mph—not nearly enough to secure a win—and spent the rest of the day in the pits with engine trouble. Meanwhile, Ron Szolack and Myrick Coil, in the cockpit of the Performance Boat Center catamaran (formerly the PBC/Jimmy John’s boat that won a Super Boat International World Championship, and has since been bought by Szolack and re-rigged with bigger engines), hit 169 mph about an hour before the course was shut down early for the day, due to a spectator drowning. (Read more about the drowning, here)
Szolack and Coil won the day, but American Ethanol came back on Sunday ready for more. The boat made two runs, but ran into trouble again, when a propeller threw a blade through the hull, near the finish line. But the reigning Top Gun still managed to reach 201 mph in an earlier run.
No one else was able to come close, though Battiato and Coil raised their speed by 4 mph on Sunday, with a 173 mph run. And powerboating legend Bob Bull brought his bright-orange 52-foot MTI catamaran, making five runs, with a top speed of 162 mph. Behind him in the standings, Dave Megugorac (“Magoo”) had a solid 156 mph run in his DCB 44 on Saturday.
Those were the fastest catamarans, but Ben Robertson posted an impressive 143 mph in a 42-foot Fountain, earning him the Top V award for the weekend.
The first-ever Shootout Top Gun was Randy Scism, in 1989. He ran 101 mph. Randy was at the Shootout this year, putting up a 123 mph speed in an outboard-powered MTI with his daughter Taylor. Randy also joined Bob Bull for two passes in Bull’s MTI.
John Cosker has been in the cockpit for every one of American Ethanol’s Top Gun wins: with Myrick Coil in 2015, Slug Hefner in 2016 (when the boat hit its fastest-ever Shootout speed: 217 mph), and Tony Battiato the last three years. And while Onken’s boat and team have clearly established Shootout dominance, they’re not the first to do so at the Shootout. David Scott and his Nauti Marine won Top Gun for five years straight, between 1997 and 2001. Scott drive with John Tomlinson in the Top Gun-winning boat in 2009 and 2010, as well. (See the full list of all Shootout Top Guns, here.)
Visit ShootoutResults.com to view the full results from Shootout weekend.