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Next Race

Sun Jun 02 2024

Shootout Offshore - The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

By Eric Colby | Speedonthewater.com

Like any motorsport, offshore powerboat racing has its good and bad elements and fans got to see almost all of them during the one and a half days of the Shootout Offshore races in Lake Ozark, Mo., May 31 and June 1.

There was no shortage of drama—or offshore action—at this weekend’s Shootout Offshore event at Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos

Sometimes, weather causes one of the events to be canceled. That happened on Friday, resulting in the three boats that were ready to compete in Class 1 heading back to the docks. Sometimes, mechanical problems decimate the fleet in one class and a winner runs mostly unopposed. That happened to the Class 1 racers on Saturday and local favorites Monster Energy/M CON took the checkered flag in both competitions.

Sometimes, even a veteran driver has a navigational miscue at the start of a race and a boat that looked to be a sure winner ends up getting penalized and losing the race. That happened in the Super Cat class and WHM Motorsports took its first win of the year..

On the positive side, sometimes a team nails the setup and runs away, putting on a dominant show. That happened in the Factory Stock class when Montlick Injury Attorneys ran away from the fleet. Sometimes a team breaks through and has a great race. That happened in Super Stock class when CELSIUS ran wire to wire for the victory. And sometimes, a family celebrates wins in multiple classes, which happened for Nick and Owen Buis and the XINSURANCE/Statement Marine team.

Forty-seven boats descended upon the performance-boating mecca in the middle of the United States for the first offshore race produced by the folks that put on the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in conjunction with P1 Offshore. Races were held on Friday and Saturday so the popular recreational boating waterway could be open for traffic on Sunday.

Veteran Moves

Eight boats competed in the Super Cat class, which includes 38-foot to 40-foot catamarans powered by twin engines rated at approximately 750 hp. When the green flag flew, the 38-foot Skater, Dirty Money, with driver Brit Lilly and throttleman Bill Pyburn moved to the early lead chased by owner/driver Billy Mauff and throttleman Jay Muller in the 40-foot Skater, WHM Motorsports, and the father-son team of Anthony Smith and Anthony Smith in the 40-foot Skater, HP Mafia, which calls Lake of the Ozarks home.

Running in the outside lane, owner/driver Chris Grant and throttleman Billy Moore in the 38-foot Skater, Graydel/CJ Grant Racing, charged hard into the first turn and then spun out when the skegs broke off the boat’s drives.

“We heard a bang and came around and there was nothing Billy or I could do,” Grant said, explaining that the “bang” was when the skegs, which are basically the rudder on the bottom of the Mercury Racing M6 drives, snapped off. The engines and drives will need to be replaced and Grant said the boat will be ready to race next weekend at the Race World Offshore event in Ocean City, Md.

As usual, the ferocious Super Cat fleet put on a great show for the fans at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Officials red-flagged the race so Graydel could be towed to the inside of the course, and after the restart of the 14-lap race on the five-mile course, Dirty Money moved back to the lead followed by WHM, HP Mafia and throttleman John Tomlinson and driver Myrick Coil in the 38-foot Skater, M CON/Monster Energy. Tomlinson was filling in for owner Tyler Miller who was recovering from back surgery.

The balance of the running order included owner/throttleman Vinnie Diorio and driver Matt Jamniczky in the 39-foot Outerlimits, SV Offshore, driver Rob Unnerstall and throttleman Casey Boaz in the 38-foot Skater, CR Racing/XINSURANCE, and throttleman Anthony Smith and driver Christian McCauley in the 40-foot MTI, Team Farnsworth/Hancock Claims.

As Lilly and Pyburn defended their line and the lead, WHM held onto second. HP Mafia was running third but wound up pulling off with a problem. That let M CON/Monster Energy, which calls Lake of the Ozarks home, move up to claim third.

When the spray settled after the 14 laps, Dirty Money appeared to have the victory, followed by WHM and Tomlinson and Coil. CR Racing finished in fourth followed by Win Farnsworth’s team.

But all was not as it seemed. At the start of the race, officials said that Dirty Money did not navigate a righthand dogleg on the course and ran straight to the buoy marking the next turn. The boat was in lane three and it was ruled that the boats in lanes one and two were compromised. Most of the competitors running behind them saw the move and assumed that there would be a time penalty. This affected how they approached the balance of the race.

“It was said in the driver’s meeting you have to make that turn,” said WHM throttleman Muller. “Dirty Money wasn’t a factor in my brain after the restart because I knew he had a penalty. I was racing to protect my lead over M CON.”

A penalty for “reckless driving” was assessed, moving Dirty Money to last place in Super Cat. WHM Motorsports took the win followed by M CON/Monster Energy and CR Racing. When asked about the penalty, Lilly preferred not to comment.

The Downside of Small Fleets

Three boats ventured to the Lake of the Ozarks for Class 1 racing. With the blessing of the doctor who performed his back surgery, Michael Janssen, Miller got back in his 43-foot Skater, Monster Energy/M CON to throttle alongside driver Coil. Owner/driver Mike Falco and throttleman Billy Moore were hoping to rebound in the 45-foot Victory, Team DeFalco, after mechanical issues shortened their day in Cocoa Beach, Fla., at the season opener. The winners from Cocoa Beach, owner/throttleman Rich Wyatt and driver Alex Pratt were hoping to continue their momentum in the 50-foot Mystic, dfYoung/Good Boy Vodka.

Class 1 is the only category that qualifies for lane position and on Friday, Team DeFalco put down the fastest time, covering the five-mile course in 2:13.82 followed by Monster Energy/M CON and dfYoung/Good Boy Vodka.

The Class 1 boats were scheduled to have a race Friday afternoon followed by a second on Saturday, but Mother Nature had other ideas. When they were on the course waiting to start, the skies opened up and rain poured down. Officials called the race because of poor visibility.

Thanks in part to mechanical attrition, the Monster Energy/M CON Skater dominated the Class 1 competition.

This moved the first race for the teams to Saturday at 11 a.m. At the start, Moore and Falco used their pole position to move out to a lead chased closely by Miller and Coil, while Wyatt and Pratt were off the pace pretty early. The Class 1 races are run differently than other offshore competitions because they are timed. The race was set to run 30 minutes plus one lap. After about five minutes of running time, Team DeFalco pulled off with mechanical problems, which dfYoung/Good Boy Vodka had already done. Miller and Coil ran unopposed to the checkered flag in race one on Saturday, which moved them up in world championship points.

The second Class 1 race on Saturday was considered Round Three of the 2024 season and all three boats made the start. Wyatt said that dfYoung/Good Boy Vodka blew the top off a sea strainer while Team DeFalco thought it had fixed its water pressure issues. When the green flag went up for the final race of the day, Wyatt and Pratt continued to have mechanical issues and dropped out first. Miller and Coil continued to ride their wave of good luck leading from start to finish in the 40-minute race. Team DeFalco had its own problems, but Moore kept the boat on plane on one engine and completed the time to take second place, earning valuable points.

“Getting that first checkered flag, the crew was super stoked,” Miller said. “The first three laps were pretty spectacular finally getting back in the boat and getting comfortable. It was the boat we knew we had on flat water.”

The two wins gave Monster Energy/M CON the lead in points for the world championships, but Miller knowns the season is not over. “It’s a five-event series, but we have three events with double points.”

Turf Wars

In the 450R Factory Stock class, three of the boats entered were built by Marine Technology Inc., which is based in Wentzville, Mo., and calls Lake of the Ozarks its home water. Taylor Scism, the driver of the 39-foot MTI, TS Motorsports, is the vice president of MTI. She was joined in the boat by throttleman Tomlinson.

The Montlick Injury Attorneys team of throttleman Ricky Maldonado and driver Logan Adan claimed their second 450R Factory Stock class checkered flag of the young season.

The 39-foot MTI, GC Racing, featured owner/driver Willy Cabeza and throttleman Grant Bruggemann while its sistership, MF Racing, had driver Caleb Mead and throttleman Shaun Torrente. The only non MTI-built boat competing was the 38-foot Doug Wright, Montlick Injury Attorneys, with throttleman Ricky Maldonado and driver Logan Adan.

GC Racing had lane one with TS Motorsports in lane two and MF Racing in lane three. Starting in the outside lane didn’t appear to be a disadvantage for Adan and Maldonado, who took an early lead and never looked back. TS Motorsports fell off the pace with a bad oil pressure sensor and Tomlinson said they missed on the propeller selection.

For the 10-lap race, Maldonado and Adan maintained their lead, cruising to victory while MF Racing took second and GC Racing ran third.

The lone Super V entry in the race, the 42-foot Fountain, Team Farnsworth/Hancock Claims, with throttleman Jay Healy and drive Elijah Kingery, brought some noise to the course to the delight of fans of big-block power.

Despite that Team Farnsworth/Hancock Claims doesn’t have much competition in the Super V ranks, it’s fast become a fan favorite for the throaty roar of its 750-plus hp engines..

After a dominant win at the season-opener in Marathon, Fla., and mechanical issues in Cocoa Beach, Maldonado called the win at Shootout Offshore “a good team effort.” The team tested six sets of propellers, three of which were delivered to the crew at the event from Mercury Racing. With his son Julian on communications from shore, Ricky Maldonado said he was getting solid information and backed off to about 75 percent around lap six.

“I know the motors are reliable, and I wanted to make sure,” he explained. “I couldn’t be any happier. I know we can compete with them. I’m not saying we’re better.”

Torrente was happy with second place after a mechanical issue cost MF Racing in Cocoa Beach.

“We nailed the setup honestly,” Torrente said. “This was a nice recovery race for Caleb. He was really unhappy in Cocoa, so for us to get a second was awesome. Caleb drove better. We communicated in the boat better.”

Positive Energy

Super Stock had the largest number of entries for the weekend at 13 and betting types were likely putting their money on the 32-foot Victory cat, Jackhammer, with owner/driver Reese Langheim and throttleman Julian Maldonado. Langheim calls the Lake of the Ozarks his home-water.

After Cocoa Beach, the Super Stock teams voted to reverse the finishing order to determine the lanes for the Shootout Offshore race. This put the father-son team of AJ and Pete Bogino in their 32-foot Doug Wright, CoCo’s Monkey, in lane one with Torrente and driver Sean Conner in lane two in their new S2 Powerboats cat. Owner/driver Chris Hopgood and throttleman Muller were in lane three in the 32-foot Doug Wright, CELSIUS, with owner/throttleman John Strama and Connor Langheim in the 32-foot Doug Wright, JS Motorsports, in lane four. The 32-foot Fazza, Steele with owner/driver Dominick Steele and Ricardo Maldonado on the throttles were in lane five while driver David Selley and throttleman Steven Bridges were in lane six in the 32-foot Doug Wright, Team Bermuda, and the new 32-foot Doug Wright, Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping, with owner/throttleman Billy Allen and driver Randy Keys in lane seven.

For the CELSIUS Super Stock-class duo of Chris Hopgood and Jay Muller, Shootout Offshore was a winner.

The Super Stock fleet was rounded out by new driver Marcos Maestri and throttleman Ryan Beckley in the 32-foot Doug Wright, Atlas/TNT Caddy Shack, Coil and throttleman Rusty Williams in the 32-foot Doug Wright, Performance Boat Center, Tom and Maxwell Sanderfoot in the 32-foot Doug Wright, Sign ShaX, the 32-foot Doug Wright, Mom Aint Happy, with Ryan Williams and Scott Blumberg and the 32-foot Victory, Big East Construction, with owner/driver Cole Leibel and throttleman Gary Ballough.

There was plenty of conjecture that 13 boats heading into turn one could have the potential mayhem and from its position in lane 2, S2 Powerboats was leading when it entered the turn and spun out.

“It accelerated awesome get to the corner,” said Torrente. “We went in hot to win the race. It unloaded the tail and came around. We re-started in 10th and picked off as many boats as we could.”

Meanwhile, after building their confidence with testing, Muller and Hopgood moved to the lead in CELSIUS. The boat was built in 2015 for the late owner/driver Kyler Talbot and he and Muller won many races and championships in the boat. Muller and Hopgood nailed the setup and the boat ran flawlessly for the 10-lap race, leading from start to finish. Langheim and Julian Maldonado tried everything they could to make up ground, but the day belonged to the CELSIUS team and Jackhammer wound up second. CoCo’s Monkey and Team Bermuda battled throughout the race for the final podium spot and at the end, the Boginos claimed third.

“We finally got a really good start,” said Hopgood after taking his first win. “We found speed over the offseason definitely and I think today was just a good start and it came our way.”

Added Muller, “I won a lot of races in this boat. When this boat is on, there’s no stopping it. We’ve done a lot of testing and did our homework. Right from the start, we’re good.”

For driver A.J. Bogino, being a little bit behind S2 Powerboats at the start wound up being a good thing. “Thankfully we were a few boat lengths behind or one of us would have t-boned the other one,” he said. Of the third place finish, he said, “It’s an improvement over our first two races of the season. Hopefully we can continue improving.”

The Boginos will be taking a few races off because A.J. and his wife are expecting a baby on August 19.

Family Time

Six boats made up the Mod V fleet and after the 29-foot Extreme, El Bandito Sunprint, with driver Steven Fehrmann and Kevin Smith subbing for team owner Steve Miklos on the throttles, retired early with mechanical problems.

The race had its own issues prior to that with three boats upset by what they thought was a quick green flag. Protests have been filed.

The father-son team of throttleman Steve and driver Stephen Kildahl in the 29-foot Extreme, Boatfloater.com, took the early lead, but they were soon passed by throttleman Nick Buis and driver J.J. Turk pulled in their 29-foot Extreme, XiINSURANCE/Statement Marine. Owner/driver Rick Raab and throttleman Scott Jobin in the 32-foot Phantom, Safe Cash/XINSURANCE The 30-foot Phantom, Relentless/Laticrete, with driver Travis Pettko and throttleman Loren Peters was one of the boats that got caught off guard by the early start and then they spun out. Owner/driver Ken Bolinger and throttleman Forrest Riddle in their 30-foot Phantom, Fastboys Racing.com were also not pleased with what they thought was a quick green flag.

The XINSURANCE/Statement Marine team delivered a strong performance.

There were also some questions about how many laps the boats were supposed to complete. Boatfloater.com pulled off after completing the nine laps the boats were told to run, whileXINSURANCE/Statement Marine and Safe Cash/Insurance stayed on the course until they saw the checkered flag being fully waved. The final results had XINSURANCE/Statement Marine in first followed by Boatfloater.com and Safe Cash/XINSURANCE.

“We were told to run nine laps and we ran nine and pulled in,” Stephen Kildahl said.

After the race, Buis and Turk were interviewed by race announcer Bob Teague and said they were going to keep running until the checkered flag waved.“ J.J. did an unbelievable job,” Buis said. “He had a game plan and I trusted him and he put us in a couple of spots and it worked out perfectly.”

Raab was not pleased with the start or the number of times he said the officials waved the white flag, which usually indicates one lap remaining.

“We were supposed to do 9 laps and they kept throwing the white flag on the fourth or fifth lap,” he said.

Bolinger said he was hoping for better than finishing off the podium. “Fifty percent of (the boats) started pulling out and they dropped the green flag instantly,” he said. “There was no lineup.”

In Bracket 400 class, owner/driver Jim Simmons and throttleman Jason Zolecki continued their winning ways in the 34-foot Phantom, Simmons Marine, defeating driver Jimmy Vessel and throttleman Rob Goodwin in their bat boat, Boat Doctors/Miss Stress.

Simmons Marine earned yet another checkered flag in Shootout Offshore.

In Bracket 500, Turk and Buis also kept their momentum going in their 30-foot Phantom, XINSURANCE/TFR/Golf n Gator, taking the checkered flag. “We were able to get out and did real well,” Buis said. “We kept our speed where we needed to be.”

Second went to owner/throttleman Fran Vellutato and driver Tom Crowley in the 26-foot Scarab, Rum Runners, while owner/driver Craig Belfatto and throttleman Elijah Kingery took third in the 29-foot Warlock, Bulletproof/Team Farnsworth/Goodcars.com. Throttleman Robert Bryant and driver Michael McColgan were having their best run of 2024 in their 28-foot Pantera, Tunnel Vision, until they broke a drive coupler while running third.

“We tried to run a shorter course,” Crowley said. “They were in the cleaner water. We were just working their wake. They knew we were coming.”

In Bracket 600, Wessel and Goodwin took advantage of different brackets racing on separate days and ran again, taking the unopposed win.

Three boats started in Bracket 700 and the Buis family’s good luck continued as 15-year-old Owen throttled the 22-foot Activator, XINSURANCE/Statement Marine, with driver Ricky Harmeyer, to victory after getting a good start. Second went to driver John Iezzatti and throttleman Jerry Hartman in the 22-foot Velocity, Hartman/Statement Marine/XINSURANCE, and driver Connor Langheim and throttleman Mike Haak took third in the 21-foot Superboat, Jackhammer.

After the race, Buis said there was some incidental contact with Jackhammer, but he had no intention of slowing down. “I just kept going,” Buis said. I didn’t want to pull off.”

That’s one of the good parts of offshore racing. At the 2024 Shootout Offshore races on Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks, fans got to see the best and not-so-good sides of the sport.

SpeedOnTheWater.com Shootout Offshore Results Current Standings Photo Gallery Lake of the Ozarks

Reproduced from an original Eric Colby article with the kind permission of our Media Partner SpeedontheWater.com.

Photo Credit

Ronny Mac © ronnymac.com