For Sixkiller, the Shootout is like a huge family reunion. She spends time on the water with lots of friends and competes with top professional offshore racers in an event where all the money goes to charities. That’s Carrie’s idea of a perfect weekend.
The largest unsanctioned boat race in the United States is thirty-one years old this year, and in all those years, the Shootout has never differentiated race classes by gender. Women have always been welcome to enter and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with men at the awards ceremonies.
One woman, Carrie Sixkiller, has been competing and winning with a 1993 Baja Outlaw stock boat since 2007. For Sixkiller, the Shootout is like a huge family reunion. She spends time on the water with lots of friends and competes with top professional offshore racers in an event where all the money goes to charities. That’s Carrie’s idea of a perfect weekend.
Carrie says driver technique is more important than equipment when racing. Her ability to read the water, trim the boat correctly for conditions, and attend to the smallest details complements her knowledge of the boat’s characteristics. The combination gives Carrie a winning edge. Furthermore, Carrie says, matching the prop to the conditions can make a huge difference, adding “props can win or lose races.” Some racers even change props between runs to maximize speed based on the water, wave, and wind conditions on the course.
Carrie’s passion to wring the last mile per hour out of her 1993 stock boat is matched by her passion to empower young women. Sixkiller believes and wants other to believe they can “do whatever they want to do in life and be whatever they want to be.”
Sixkiller accomplishes this not only by setting a standard while competing with men, but also through the Silverbackks [sic], a Topeka charitable outreach program designed to build community through 100% volunteer staff and support personnel. Named for the leader of a community or troop of gorillas, the Silverbackks lead followers to resources and protect them from danger.
Silverbackks provide food and shelter resources to those struggling to survive either on the street or while living on low wages in poverty.
The volunteer organization strives to build a troop or community for the common good.
Sixkiller is the lead person in a group called Silverbras, an outgrowth of Silverbackks.
The Silverbras’ mission is to provide basic undergarments to women who have to make a choice every day between comfort and food for the family or heat for the home. They also provide basic hygiene items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, disposable razors, and hand sanitizer.
Carrie’s efforts are aimed at young women of school age who struggle with self-esteem issues and often have to choose between scraping together enough resources for a prom dress and decent undergarments or completing class requirements. Carrie says, “By providing these items, [the Silverbras] give girls self-esteem and the ability to focus on other things they need to be successful in life.”
Carrie Sixkiller can claim success in her own life. She transitioned from Shootout fan to Shootout competitor. She’s won her class 10 times since 2007 and was grateful to be a Shootout Hall of Fame inductee in 2017. In 2019, Carrie is returning with the same 1993 Baja Outlaw. She will “run what she brung,” as the saying goes because the Shootout is more about technique than equipment. If that proves to be another winning calculation, then “it’s a bonus,” Carrie says. She’s satisfying a need to complete and a desire to find the perfect balance between technique and conditions on this great lake.