From being part of the 2018 class to helping announce the first Bob Morgan Memorial Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Hall of Fame class roughly seven years ago (and every one since) on speedonthewater.com, it’s clear that I have a deep appreciation for the event’s unique Hall of Fame. And the fact that the distinction isn’t just limited to event champions and participants—this journalist is proof of that as is every volunteer, photographer and past organizer who has been included in the esteemed group since 2013—makes the event’s tribute, which is recognized on an impressive brick wall featuring a bust of the late Bob Morgan at the Captain Ron’s Bar & Grill property that has hosted the Shootout since 2008, that much more extraordinary.
This year’s class is exceptional once again. Ron Duggan, owner of Captain Ron’s and de facto lead organizer of the Shootout, sent an email out to various media outlets on Thursday afternoon announcing the five inductees into the eighth class of the esteemed Hall of Fame—Myrick Coil, Brad Harrington, Tim Kowalski, Tiffany Maasen and Bob Teague. This is by far the earliest the Shootout has announced its upcoming class, but in this case, with the well-deserved and well-rounded group being honored, there was no reason to delay the news after the decision was finalized.
I’ve long championed for the first person mentioned above, Performance Boat Center’s Myrick Coil, to be in the Hall of Fame; he really deserves the recognition. Ask Duggan—he gets nomination suggestions from me every year whether he likes it or not. I’ve been making recommendations long before Duggan surprised me with a phone call Father’s Day weekend two years ago to inform me I was going to be honored amongst the people who have made the event I’ve spent the better part of two decades covering what it is today.
Upon hearing the news, Coil was my first congratulatory phone call. I mean the locally based world champion offshore racer deserved to have his name on the wall way before I did. As a young adult 20 years ago, Coil came to the lake with his family—they had a 24-foot Formula at their lake house—and went to Shooters 21 to see what all the Shootout fuss was about. Long story short, he thought it was coolest thing he’d ever seen and upon returning home to Illinois he decided to go to tour a tech school to become a marine mechanic based on his mother’s suggestion and encouragement and enrolled the next day. The rest is history.
Coil’s been directly and indirectly in the Shootout spotlight ever since. He started out with Advanced Marine in Rocky Mount, Mo., and the company’s co-owner, Steve Wallace was a big proponent of the event. In fact, Wallace was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015. From there Coil connected with prominent offshore racer Dave Scott of Nauti-Marine and worked his way up to crew chief for the world champion team that was backed for many years by Anheuser-Busch out of St. Louis. While he never ran the Shootout with the multi-time Top Gun champion, Coil eventually ended up alongside John Cosker in Don Onken’s 50-foot Mystic catamaran American Ethanol for the boat’s first of five straight overall Top Gun titles in 2015. (Read the column I wrote about that feat.)
“I had no idea this was coming—I rarely get texts or call from Ron so I wasn’t sure why he was calling,” Coil said. “Then he told me I was getting inducted and I was floored. It’s such an awesome feeling, I still don’t believe it.
“The Shootout is such a neat event—the fact that anyone can do it makes it unlike anything else,” he added, recalling the thousands of hours of time dedicated to the event as a member of Scott’s team and what’s probably his most memorable run, a 195-mph pass with John Tomlinson, who often throttled for the retired Scott, in an open-cockpit 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran powered by twin 1,700-hp turbocharged Sterling Performance engines. “I owe a lot to the Shootout. It changed my life and opened up so many doors. I put in a lot of hard work, all to go fast in a mile, but it’s been worth it. It’s hard to believe I came here as a spectator and eventually worked for a Top Gun and became a Top Gun. Heck I even got to race a plane down the course. I’ve kind of done it all—well I’ve never done it on a Jet Ski. Maybe I’ll have to do that this year.”
The best part about talking to all five 2020 inductees is that they all had a similar reaction as Coil did. I reacted the same way, “Really, me? There are plenty of others who should be in instead.”
Tim Kowalski, the owner of Michigan-based Bio-Kleen, said he couldn’t believe it when Ron told him. Of course Kowalski has been participating and supporting the event for three decades. He’s won his class several times in his 1993 Cigarette Racing Team 35 Café Racer and generously offers up his V-bottom for the Wishing On A Ride day of charity boat rides every year. In fact, he said that’s his favorite part of the event.
“When Ron called it brought a tear to my eye because I know what an honor it is,” Kowalski said. “We do the Shootout to give back to the community. Fortunately we’re in a position to do so thanks to the boaters who use our products. We’ve always sponsored the Shootout and the poker run, had a display at the event, set up at the street party and attended the Make-A-Wish rides. That day is so special. It’s indescribable how good it makes you feel.”
Kowalski said he was excited to go in with his longtime friend, Bob Teague of Teague Custom Marine in Southern California. Teague, whose only year as a participant in the event was in 2005 with Lizardo Benites in the Team Peru MTI, received the induction based on his recent contributions to the event’s broadcast team. The world champion racer and longtime test team member and tech editor for Powerboat magazine and now Speedboat magazine provides a level of boating knowledge and expertise that the event never had before he signed on to sit in the booth almost 10 years ago.
“I was shocked when Ron called and told me they wanted to put me in the Hall of Fame,” Teague said. “I said ‘You’re kidding me—in my opinion there are a lot more people more qualified than me.’ He disagreed and he said other people did too, and that it was because of the credibility I’ve brought not just to the broadcast but the event overall. I thanked him and then said I still didn’t deserve it.
“It really does mean a lot,” he added. “I’ve been inducted in other Hall of Fames or Hall of Champions but the thing about those is that they’re based on meeting specific criteria, as in you win so many races, earn so many points or set some record. This honor is different as it’s based on people’s emotions and feelings, which makes it more valuable in a way.”
Brad Harrington, the main man behind an unbelievable 14-straight class wins in his Team Kansas 1990 Saber Cyclone powered by twin small-block Chevrolet engines, said he was definitely taken aback when Duggan reached out with the news. The funeral director for Alden-Harrington Funeral Homes in Kansas has three children with his wife, Carrie, and has only missed one Shootout since 1992.
Harrington started nearly 30 years ago as a patrol boat, then he assisted with the start boat before he began participating as a racer in his 23-foot Velocity and later in his 30-foot Velocity. He said he took a few years to enjoy the event as a spectator and even had his bachelor party at the Shootout. He started competing again in 2007 after purchasing his Saber in 2006 and winning a world championship in Key West, Fla., later that year with his good friend from the lake, Jason Zolecki of Lake Shores Marina. He credited his wife for her support and the many drivers he’s ran with along the way including Zolecki, Zolecki’s brother, Joel, Jeremy Ressler, Eric Hill and, most recently, Ken Moore.
“This is such a huge honor, it really is,” Harrington said. “Ron asked me when I was planning to come into town this year and I said, ‘Well we usually come in Wednesday or Thursday,’ and he told me he was going to need me to come into town sooner to be a part of the Hall of Fame ceremony. All I could say was wow. I mean what an honor. I love the Shootout. We rent one of the houses every year at Captain Ron’s and we bring the kids and everyone has such a great time. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like this year. I’ve been running 86 and 87 mph for a few years now so I guess with the induction I’m going to have step up and figure out a way to get to 90 mph this year.”
Last in this extensive column—it might be the longest piece I’ve ever written for OffshoreOnly—but certainly not least, Tiffany Maasen is being inducted for her years of service as a volunteer at pretty much every level. Maasen is single-handedly responsible for taking the Wishing On A Ride day (now days as of last year) to the incredibly professional and rewarding event it is today. She played a big role in organizing the Shootout On The Strip for many years and has been a primary catalyst behind the live auction the past few years as it’s reached record levels with help from Super Cat Fest organizers Alvin Heathman and Nikki Sorenson. To top it off, she’s also participated several times in the Shootout with her husband, Mark, in ‘Merica, their 34-foot Nor-Tech center console with a patriotic Poly Lift Boat Lifts wrap.
“This is truly such an honor, but I think of this as an award for the charities, not me, because that’s what this event is about and that’s why I have such a passion for it,” Maasen said. “The Shootout has an incredibly huge impact on the community. It’s been a privilege to have been a part of helping it grow like it has. I told Ron that I think I should be getting this award with Mark, who is a board member and has been involved with the event much longer than me, but he said several people were behind the nomination for the work I’ve done. The Shootout brought Mark and I together actually. I met him eight years ago at the event and we’ve been married for five years now.
“I hope this recognition motivates more people to come help at the Shootout and raise money for the charities,” she added. “There are so many ways to get involved, too. I’ve met so many wonderful people and established some amazing partnerships with companies like Oak Star Bank through Wishing On A Ride and community members like the city of Lake Ozark with the Shootout on the Strip. And the whole Make-A-Wish connection has been unbelievable. I think I get more out of that event than the kids and families we put it together for do.”
Maasen and the other 2020 class inductees are going to be honored at a dinner on Tuesday, August 25 at 7 p.m. at The Stables Event Center in Sunrise Beach, Mo. Reservations may be made online at www.lakeoftheozarksshootout.com. Tickets are $35 per person or $350 for a table of eight. Congrats once again to this year’s recipients.