Like it’s been the previous four years, the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Bob Morgan Memorial Hall of Fame dinner ceremony on Tuesday evening at the Stables at Cannon Smoked Saloon in Gravois Mills, Mo., was an unforgettable evening filled with speeches (or lack thereof) and tributes to several people who have made their mark on the event, which celebrates 29 years this week.
With six inductees into the fifth annual Hall of Fame, including three that are no longer with us, emcee Kevin Burns of 93.5 Rocks the Lake, took to the stage to honor this year’s class beginning with the late Richie Prince of Louisiana. It was a somber opening no doubt, but between the well-stated tribute, the slideshow featuring Prince making passes along the one-mile course and Randy Scism, the owner and founder of Marine Technology Inc. in Wentzville, Mo., accepting the plaque on the Prince family’s behalf and inviting Prince’s friends in the room to join him, it was a touching moment.
“Richie was a great guy, just an awesome person,” said Scism, who was a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class. “He would have been so honored to be a part of this group. He loved this lake and always called Lake of the Ozarks his home away from home.”
The mood changed almost immediately as one of Scism’s longest-running customers and offshore racing teammates, Bob Bull, came up to the stage following Burns’ speech and proceeded to grab his plaque and head back to his table.
“Hold on a minute Mr. Bull,” Burns said. “In the radio business, we call this an interview.”
He proceeded to ask the longtime supporter of the Shootout how it felt to be part of the Hall of Fame, and Bull—a humble man who doesn’t normally have much to say—smiled at Burns and walked back off the stage. Of course everyone laughed and Burns moved on to the most rousing part of the evening, the induction of Carrie Sixkiller of Kansas.
“Eleven years ago I put on my lipstick and started down the lake in my little boat (a Baja Marine V-bottom) feeling stressful, fearful and full of adrenaline,” Sixkiller said while holding back her tears of joy. “Every year since then, those three feelings have brought me back in my same little boat. I have not won my class every year, but I don’t come here to win, I come here to be a part of something amazing. Something that raises money for local charities, which is near and dear to my heart. I come to see people who have become more than just friends to my crew and I—they are family. Winning is just a bonus for me. And tonight here I am feeling fearful, stressed, full of adrenaline and yes, of course, with my lipstick on.
“Having more women participate in the Shootout is something I’ve always pushed for and it’s happening, which is so very exciting,” she continued. “Thank you doesn’t seem to be enough for this honor tonight. Thank you to the Hall of Fame committee, I still can’t believe you chose me. Thank you to all of the volunteers who make this event possible. Thank you to my crew for all the hard work each year. And thank you to Mike Gordon for surprising me and coming all the way from Florida to be here tonight—Mike you created this monster and taught me everything I needed to know to run in the Shootout. And thank you to my husband, my biggest fan. I’m humbled to be a part of this prestigious family. In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d be a member of the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Hall of Fame.”
Following Sixkiller’s inspirational acceptance speech, Georgia performance boater John O’Neill accepted two plaques on behalf of the families of longtime Shootout participants, Jim Melley and Garth Tagge of Georgia, who died in an accident at a top-speed shootout in Maryland last October. Both Burns’ and O’Neill’s speeches were on point, with O’Neill stressing how honored Melley and Tagge would have been to be part of the Hall of Fame.
Last but certainly not least, Burns closed the ceremony by honoring the final member of this year’s class, ace throttleman and multi-time world champion John Tomlinson of TNT Custom Marine in Miami. Unfortunately Tomlinson—a four-time overall Top Gun champion of the event as Dave Scott’s throttleman—had a last-minute cancellation so he couldn’t make it and his current teammate and longtime friend, Myrick Coil, accepted the award for him.
Coil explained how deserving Tomlinson is of the honor and read a text that Tomlinson, who holds the event record for the fastest open canopy catamaran top speed at 197 mph, sent to him that thanked everyone involved with the Shootout for the recognition as well as all of his teammates throughout the years.
All in all, there was definitely a lot to be thankful for by the end of the fifth annual Hall of Fame ceremony.
Former Powerboat editor Jason Johnson was an integral part of the magazine staff from 2005 through 2011, utilizing journalistic integrity and experience in and around performance boats to report on all aspects of the go-fast lifestyle. The award-winning writer resides in Southern California and is the executive editor and co-publisher of speedonthewater.com.