Even with the change in course length from one mile to three quarters of a mile, Don Onken’s 51-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran American Ethanol is likely the clear-cut favorite to be the fastest boat at any top-speed shootout event it competes in this season. That’s a pretty fair assumption when you consider the boat’s accomplishments last year: The quad-engine Mystic ran 206 mph at the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees (GLOC) Performance Boat Challenge Shootout in Grove, Okla., and backed up its 208-mph Top Gun-winning effort at the 2015 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout with the fastest speed ever recorded at the event in a non-turbine-powered boat, 217 mph.

And all of that was with the “smaller” 1,700-hp engines.

shootout day1 americanethanol

Heading into the 2017 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri, the American Ethanol team is looking to become the second team to win three straight Shootout Top Gun titles. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

This year, Onken’s team, which consists of Earl Moorman, Keith Eickert, Dave Bernshausen, Craig Strader and Onken’s sons, JR and JD, plus throttleman John Cosker and driver Slug Hefner, is going to be utilizing its four new 598-cubic-inch, 2,250-hp engines that run on Renegade Race Fuels’ E85 ethanol race fuel.

It’s first test with the new engines, which Onken said the team has been working on for a couple of years, is going to be the third annual GLOC event that takes place July 13-16.

“We’re going to use GLOC as a barometer in July and then hopefully be able to do a little more testing before LOTO,” said Onken, adding that the team is going to use its 1,700-hp engines as spares for both events. “We may try to gear down a little more than before but I don’t know if we’ll need it with the horsepower we’ll be making. I’m hoping the boat can run 200 mph—with the power I think it could run 230 mph on a mile course—but it all depends on the equipment doing what it’s supposed to do.

“It’s always a battle getting prepared for Lake of the Ozarks,” he continued. “It’s a lot of time and energy for a couple of races. But we’re committed—we always have been—and we hope to put on another good show this year. We’re also hoping for a safe year, and we applaud the shootout directors for the proactive decision to shorten their courses.”

Onken also expressed his appreciation to the team’s major sponsors American Ethanol and Big Thunder Marine in Gravois Mills, Mo., which is stepping up to help the team even more than last year.

“To be able to support such a successful, modest, matter-of-fact team like American Ethanol is an incredible opportunity,” said Jeremy Anderson, Big Thunder Marine’s general manager. “We are trying to partner with winning people with winning attitudes, and Don Onken, his family and his organization are as good as it gets. We plan on assisting the team as much as we can anytime they are here at the lake. We’ve even ordered a custom black and yellow Manitou pontoon with twin 300-hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 engines that we’re going to use as the team’s support vehicle to tow the boat out to the course and shuttle people back and forth.”

As expected, Onken and company are excited for the upcoming season. Along with showcasing more horsepower in the boat, the team has a good chance at the end of August to become just the second team to claim three straight overall Top Gun titles at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout—Dave Scott's Nauti-Marine team did it from 2008-2010.

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Complete Coverage of the 2016 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout
Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Committee Overturns American Ethanol Disqualification
Shootout Organizers Decide to Shorten Course to 3/4-Mile Distance
Shorter Shootout Courses: Causes and Effects
2015 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout Highlights: 208-MPH Mystic Leads the Pack