Boat racers have one thing in common. They are addicted to the adrenaline rush of pushing the throttle and running wide open.
Boat racers have one thing in common. They are addicted to the adrenaline rush of pushing the throttle and running wide open. This weekend, Lake of the Ozarks is host to one of the most well-known boat racing events in the country, possibly the world, and many of the best will be right here, hoping to take home a win in a race that started as a competition for local bragging rights.
For the next three days, it's all about the annual Shootout races. Race crews from all over the country are arriving for the races that get underway Saturday under what are forecasted to be sunny skies and temperatures approaching the 100 degree mark.
Two decades ago when Steve Wallace, of Rocky Mount, entered his first Shootout, the crowds weren't nearly as big and the competition wasn't quite so fierce but that didn't put a damper on the fun and excitement. Back then, the event was held at the 21 mile marker at Shooter's 21. And it was all about braggin' rights.
That year, in 1994, Wallace was 25-years-old, the owner of a 1994 28' open canopy catamaran Skater with two outboards and he had opened the doors of Advanced Marine with his partner Matt Peterson. The Advanced Marine racing team nearly broke 100 mph that year. They ended their first Shootout with a run of 91 mph. By 1996, they broke the 100 mph barrier with 106. Fast forward to 2014 and the team hit 117 mph in the Shootout. In the 2013 Lake Race, they came in with a speed of 113 mph on the straightaways.
Twenty years after his first Shootout appearance, Wallace is still racing, the business is still growing and this weekend, he will run that same Skater. Wallace's crew will be Peterson and Brandon Moore who has raced with Wallace here and in Key West, Fla., along with others from Advanced Marine. It's a team effort, he said, where everyone pitches in. While the Key West racing is faster, Wallace said there's nothing quite as fun as running at home.
"It's a great race, we are excited and looking forward to it," Wallace said. "We are smaller than most of the boats that will be out there but we are still hoping to hit 120 mph this year. Saturday, we will go out, get in line and see what we can do. Saturday is about hitting the fastest speed we can. Sunday we'll go back out and run for fun."
Powering the 28' boat will be two Mercury Outboards with a combined horsepower of 600. More than enough to push him past the 100 mph mark.
Wallace hit 117 last year and is hoping to bet that this year. On Saturday, he will run alone, to lighten the weight in the boat.
Wallace has been hitting the water every day this week before boaters get out and get the wakes churned up. If all goes as planned, any problems with the boat will be worked out by the weekend and everything will be in sync for the races.
Wallace is not just a familiar name in boat racing at Lake of the Ozarks. He has crewed for several teams in Key West. Some of his earliest racing experiences with the Budweiser/Bacardi Silver crew. These days, he also works with Dr. Micheal "Doc" Janssen's racing team, most recently crewing for Snowy Mountain Brewery boat.
Wallace’s ties to Lake of the Ozarks go back to the young age of 13, when he moved here with his family in 1985. While attending school, Wallace got a job working at Alhonna Resort on the boat docks. He started tinkering with the rental boats, keeping them running. That's where he may have actually found his true calling. After graduating from School of the Osage in 1987, Wallace's interest in working on boats peaked and he enrolled at what is now known as Lake Career and Technical Center in the marine technology program. These days, he's extensive knowledge of marine engines and technology is not only a definitely advantage when getting ready for a race and ensuring the engines are running at optimum performance but also as the foundation for Advanced Marine.