LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. — On the first day of the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, 71 boats laid down more than 100 runs, from pontoons to big catamarans, v-bottoms to surprisingly quick electric boats.
Thirty of them hit triple-digit speeds — Shootout competitors come with plenty of guts and power — though none, not even reigning Top Gun American Ethanol, came close to the ethanol-powered Mystic’s fastest historic run on the 3/4-mile race course, 204 mph. American Ethanol hit a dizzying-but-still-far-from-record 184 mph in its third run on Saturday. That was still the fastest run of the day, with Jim Schultz and Mike Faucher running a stunning 161 in Schultz’s 51-foot Outerlimits v-bottom Factory Billet, and just behind him, Jamin Jones hitting 160 mph in the new-to-the-Shootout 36-foot Skater. Thus far, American Ethanol is the fastest cat and fastest overall, and Factory Billet is the fastest v-bottom of the weekend.
In other amazing-speed stories, Brad Rowland, driving his famous Tooned In II South Bay pontoon hit a new Shootout pontoon record for the 3/4-mile course: 113 mph. Rowland said he was thrilled with the run, and planned to take the rest of the day off, heading home to his family’s party dock for an evening of fun. Tooned In II always brings a cavalcade of friends, family, and supporters, in matching t-shirts, as Rowland has been running a pontoon in the Shootout since 2003—for nearly 20 years. And the fastest girl of the day, Taylor Scism — daughter of Randy Scism, the founder of MTI — put down a smooth-as-glass run at 122 mph
In a fun twist on the annual Shootout Air Show, a plane flew past the Shootout crowd, blowing pink smoke in a gender-reveal event for the first baby of the son and daughter in law of “Captain” Ron and Nicole Duggan, who own Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill, the waterfront hotspot that hosts the Shootout. (It’s a girl!) Brian Correll then put on a crowd-pleasing show in his modified for aerial acrobatics Pitts plane.
Competing for the biggest story of the day was the sizeable Shootout crowd. The event famously draws untold thousands to line the Shootout race course. But photos and video footage taken by Kimber Ott, of Tom Cline Helicopter, reveal an incredible, sprawling, two-tiered flotilla of Shootout spectators enjoying a day of fast boats under the hot summer sun.
American Ethanol is expected to run again on Sunday. Shootout broadcaster and powerboating aficionado Bob Teague noted the boat’s difficulty in beating previous year speeds may have been because the start-box area is a little smaller this year, so getting the boat positioned in the right direction, trimmed correctly, and up to 40 mph by the time it reaches the start boat, is tricky and may have diminished their speed somewhat.
Lake of the Ozarks is the boating mecca of the Midwest, and in the past two years, the Lake’s notoriously “open for boating and business” status has drawn more visitors and permanent residents than businesses and realtors here say they’ve ever seen. The Shootout is the largest single event at the Lake, drawing tens of thousands of spectators by water and by land. It began as an informal “who’s got the fastest boat” contest for bragging rights between friends, and now in its 33rd year, the Shootout annually raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for local fire districts and charities, as the largest fundraiser at the Lake of the Ozarks.