The lake is fast becoming a racing destination for racers and fans alike.
The racers are back and make no mistake, they are here to win. The fans are back to be a part of the experience as high performance boats thunder across the water.
With the Offshore Super Series National Championship Power Boat Races in town this weekend combined with the 2008 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in August, two very different but equally popular types of racing have put Lake of the Ozarks on the race circuit map.
The Shootout is a race against the clock. OSS is a dead heat race.
The races have cranked up the “powerboat” reputation of the lake, drawing crews who were here four weeks ago back to compete and hang out with other racers who share their passion for performance boats and speed at OSS.
It’s all about the adrenaline and fun, says Dennis Hillhouse of D&M Motorsport Racing. He’s always a tough contender whether racing in the Shootout or the Offshore Super Series.
Hillhouse is no stranger to the adrenaline rush of racing. Besides the go-fast, supercharged offshore boats, he has spent plenty of time behind the wheel racing ASA cars.
“It’s the adrenaline rush. Anytime you know your life is on the line, there’s an adrenaline rush. Crashing on the water is like hitting a wall. In car racing, you spin out and maybe hit the wall but boat racing is different.” he said. “We have some tough competition in our class this year, but we are confident and we are here to win.”
Hillhouse holds two world records and a 2007 United States Championship title. Not bad for a guy who got his start racing on the water in jet boats.
At one time, Hillhouse was running with Bob Morgan, another well-known boat racer from the lake. Now both are competitors in the offshore racing circuit.
Hillhouse will be running a 40-foot 850 Super Cat. Last year he took third in his class both days. This year, he doesn’t plan to settle for anything but the win. He’ll be running the same boat he ran in the Shootout.
Hillhouse and D&M Motorsports are based in Shawnee, Kan.
A last-minute addition to the OSS competition brings another Shootout winner into the race, Cutting Edge Marine is back after a successful run before fans last month.
Dr. Micheal Janssen, of Sunrise Beach and Breckenridge, Colo., referred to by many simply as Doc, will be running with his 18-year-old son Matthew in Stampede.
Doc isn’t just a nickname. When not on the water pushing the limits of one of his three Fountain skaters, he’s in the operating room. Doc specializes in spinal disorders.
Page 2 of 2 - “We are really excited about the race this weekend,” Doc said. “Our Stampede boat has been back at the Fountain factory since the Shootout last month for some modifications, adjustments and testing.”
Since the Shootout, Doc has been traveling to China, Dubia, Holland and Colombia doing medical volunteer work. Although that has cut into their time to get ready for the race, “we guarantee a great showing and contribution to the excitement of the thunder on the lake this weekend.”
This will be the team’s first run in the OSS. They will be racing for a crew member who will be back home in Iowa awaiting brain surgery for a tumor that was found in the weeks since the Shootout.
Hillhouse and Morgan will get a chance to catch up this weekend at the race. Morgan will be running with J. T. Tillman.
Morgan will be the throttleman while Tillman takes the wheel. Tillman ran his first OSS race last summer here at the lake and is hoping he and Morgan will finish at the top of their class this year.
They come in off a win in Orange Beach, Fla. Although Tillman said he’s looking forward to be back at home for this race, he does enjoy the challenge of racing on the ocean.
“There’s no comparison with racing on ocean, it’s very inconsistent,” he said. “You really have to stay focused and build up your confidence. You think you’re running on a smooth stretch of water and then out of nowhere will be a six- or seven-foot hole. Here you know what you are up and against. You worry about the wakes from other boats in your class.”
Morgan and Tillman will be running a lighter, twin engine skater this year.
Tillman, a lake area developer, has been racing all his life. Most of it has been spent on the race track. It’s only been in the last two years that he decided his days of racing cars were dwindling.
He has always been very competitive but came to the conclusion that racing cars is a younger man’s sport. The thing about racing is, whether it’s on land or water, there are no boundaries, he said.
“You forget about everything else except how to get around the guy in front of you and not let the one behind get past. Bob and I are the perfect match – the seasoned veteran who knows what he is doing and the younger guy coming out of very competitive Indy car racing who knows how to go fast.”
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