As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun.

As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun.

And so it is that the Lake Shootout is celebrating its 26th anniversary this year, having kicked off in 1988 when a bunch of local dudes decided to put their braggadocio to the test. It would be settled once and for all who had the fastest boat. A year later, Randy Scism took the Top Gun trophy running a boat 101 miles per hour on outboard engines.

Last year, coinciding with the Shootout’s 25th anniversary, tens of thousands of spectators were thrilled when Bill Tomlinson and Ken Kehoe claimed the title at 224 miles per hour. David Callan of Callan Marine broke the 200-mile per hour barrier at 201 in 2003.


Way back when

Anyone who has been a part of the Shootout experience will tell you that Fran Steingrubey, Sr., is the guy who made it happen. The Lake of the Ozarks Shootout is a living legacy of sorts to Steingrubey and the other racers who helped get it all started.

In the 1960s, Steingrubey left a successful business in Illinois and moved the family to the Lake and bought the old Robin’s Resort.

By the late 1980s, he was ready for a new challenge. The Steinbgrubey family broke ground for a new lakefront entertainment venue that would be called Shooter’s 21.

Originally, the plan was to put on a drag race but that idea didn’t float too well with the Missouri Water Patrol.

Instead, with the help of John Page, at the time Osage Beach chief of police, Bill Seebold of Seebold Sports, and former Water Patrol captain Bill Swineburg, the beginnings of a different kind of race came together.

They developed a timed race pitting racers against each other’s best run — a race geared to giving the locals a chance to show their stuff.

The fire districts became involved and when it came time to decide what to do with the proceeds, the answer was to invest it back in the community to buy specialized equipment for water rescue.

For one weekend, the Lake rocks with the sounds of thundering engines and boats as the competition for the bragging rights heats up at Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill. The Shootout relocated to Captain Ron’s several years ago after Shooter’s was torn down.

The Shootout is the event of the season. The course begins at the 32.5-mile marker, just downstream from the Hurricane Deck Bridge.

It’s about excitement, performance, pure racing adrenaline and, along with all the anticipation and hype, there’s still a lot of good old-fashioned fun and community spirit

Over the years, the event has provided Lake-area fire districts like Osage Beach, Lake Ozark, Sunrise Beach, Mid-County and Gravois with much-needed rescue equipment to be used on the Lake of the Ozarks. In recent years, the Shootout beneficiary list has grown, adding such worthwhile organizations as Habitat for Humanity, Boy Scouts and others that make a difference in the community.


Timeline Highlights

1995: It became known as the Caleco’s Shooters 21 Benefit Shootout (Chairman of the Shootout board was Mark Michael).

1997: The event became officially known as the Lake Fire Rescue Shootout. The number of boats participating has continually increased each year. On Sunday of 2000, 80 boats ran, making 128 passes through the course that day. Boats over 22 feet in length are allowed to run. Boats run in classes by length, hull design, size of motors, and number of motors.

2008: The 20th anniversary Shootout was held at a new location. Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill was chosen for the new site following the demolition of Shooter’s 21. With the new location and renewed excitement, more than 60,000 fans watched the two-day races. Dave Scott reclaimed the Top Gun with a 178 mph run.

2010: David Scott and John Tomlinson made it three in a row with a blistering run of 208 mph. The committee set a new record by donating $70,000 to 20 different charitable organizations.

2012: The Shootout Committee donated $100,000 to 22 different organizations in the Lake area. An estimated 569 volunteers donated 6,425 hours to making this event the most successful in the history of the Shootout. In the 5 years since the event was moved to Captain Ron’s, the Shootout organization has donated over $322,000 to Lake-area charities.