Lake of the Ozarks Shootout 2024

Clowns to the Left & Jokers to the Right; Roasting the Shootout Crew

By Tim Snow | Photo of Leah Martin Courtesy of Imago Dei Photography

For more intriguing stories from the 2024 LOTO RACE GUIDE, click here!

A lot of folks, if you ask them, will tell you that running a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is a lot like running the Emerald City of Oz; all of the logistics happen behind a big curtain and there’s a smoke machine running to make extra-special sure that you don’t get wise to the act. While that is definitely a sad reality for some in this world, there are others as well. Others, whose big hearts and giving spirits drive them to put profit aside in search of an altruism that is often lacking in the ‘civilized world.’ These would-be everyday folk differ from the pack in that they choose to put their time and efforts on the line in an endless attempt to find new ways to give themselves a tension headache.

However, in our society that often praises the dirtiest way possible to make a buck, sometimes these efforts come under fire. Charity organizations have gotten a bad rap in recent decades, but does this invalidate those who do mean well? Perhaps the answer is to do nothing.

The wheels of history aren’t moved by small minds. When a rural fire department is struggling to fund itself so that it might protect communities from tragedy, not everyone sits back and works on lining their own pockets. Money doesn’t grow on trees, so those who are truly interested in helping their communities have to get creative. Maybe they even have to get fast.

That’s where a boat race comes in. How else to lure the Lake’s light beer community into helping thy neighbor than by putting on the fastest, loudest, baddest boat race the world has ever seen?

Wouldn’t ya know it, for the last thirty-six years, it’s worked like a charm. The Shootout, since it began in 1989, has raised 4.755 million dollars (we checked) for local community programs and emergency services, donating this money in addition to their time and sanity. There’s no way to quantify the good that this money has done for the community, other than the knowledge that it wasn’t available to the public before, and after the Shootout, it was.

What kind of person would wrap themselves up in such a mess? Wouldn’t it be a bit less painful to just take a hammer and bring it down on your own hand? Probably, but like we said, we’re not dealing with normies here. The Shootout, like many nonprofits, is run by a small but capable crew of hardworking wackos with more dreams than sense, but luckily the determination and grit necessary to get it done, either with people or through people.

Helming the ship with her teeth bared and no apologies currently planned, Leah Martin has made an entire career of going with-or-through people as necessary, working with a variety of nonprofits over the years in an attempt to leave the world just a little better off than the way she found it. Naturally, this has been a stick in the craw of many. After obtaining her Master’s, Mrs. Martin dedicated her life to work in the nonprofit arena, and has worked with organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, The American Cancer Society, and The American Lung Association. We tried to find ways to make fun of this, but all of the jokes just made us look bad.

Despite the annoyance of not really being able to roast someone for their work in cancer nonprofits, Mrs. Martin continues to sort-of-successfully think seventeen thoughts at once, and is not currently entertaining any ideas of slowing down.

Also, you are in the way, and she would like you to move, please.

Someone has to lead the ship and take point in wartime negotiations, of course, but somebody’s gotta play the ‘good’ cop in the organization. Any good director needs an assistant, and that’s where local celebrity Rickie Smith comes in. Born in Olathe, Kansas to thunderous applause, Rickie is a true jack of all trades, and a master of most of ‘em. Whether he’s providing necessary reports for Leah, going to events and schmoozing with the people, or trying to fix a downed website during a treasured night in with the family, Rickie provides the logistical support that the Shootout wouldn’t be able to operate without. Worst of all, he knows it. Smug, we think. Providing his talents to the Shootout doesn’t just scratch his itch for inviting trouble, though; Rickie also chases storms, and has dreams of being caught up in a real tornado someday rather than a five-way conference call that just feels like one.

One of the main ways that the Shootout has made such waves in both the local community as well as the world has always been, and always will be, the Shootout Guide, an encyclopedia-sized print piece, containing both exciting news in the world of powerboating as well as updates on the Shootout’s charitable ventures and advertisements for Lake Area businesses.

For the past few years, Christina Snow-Wagner has been taking a stapler and smacking it directly into her forehead running the show as editor.

Taking pride in the fact that most people are gonna skip all the articles and go straight for the boat pictures and ads, she keeps her nose close enough to the grindstone to show bone for the majority of the year, either writing pieces herself or outsourcing & editing work from freelancers, showcasing our beloved Lake of the Ozarks for all the world to see, immortalized in print. Just as long as she doesn’t have to do any math. She gets a bit fuzzy with the math (case in point being that one time when she was convinced that the Shootout began in 1988 and Leah printed a hundred shirts with the incorrect year).

The LOTO Race Guide is comprised of the written word, though. No one cares about the written word. The written word (ugh, we struggle to even pen the phrase) is utterly outdated and useless, and advertisement space has become king. But who’s gonna deal with reaching out to all these big corporate jamokes to modernize this here operation with some big flashy ads?

If you ask Rickie Smith, no one does. But that’s only because he still doesn’t know Destiny Jones has joined the team as the manager of sales.

In Rickie’s defense, Destiny only joined the team this year, but her energy and knack for networking have already made her an unfortunately necessary part of the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, bringing in both new businesses and reconnecting with old friends of the Shootout to not only boost the profile of Lake Area businesses, but also to give back to a community that has given her so much.

When she’s not providing support for the Shootout, Destiny is also the founder and operator of “Got Your Bach”, a local bachelorette party planning service that has unconfirmed rumors of doing mostly kids’ birthday parties. On an unrelated note, if you are an unemployed clown, please contact Destiny Jones at your earliest convenience for an interview.

Let’s call running a 501c3 nonprofit what it really is: exhausting and, almost unbelievably, worth all this trouble. Year after year, the delight on spectators’ faces as they watch world speed records shatter, the roar of the boats, and the ability to support our lake-area EMS teams keeps bringing us back to the drawing board for next year’s Shootout, and all of the hurricanes and tornadoes that come with it. And so, as they say, we’ll keep on keeping on. You’ll find us at that event, or you’ll get that call from us about potential advertisement opportunities, and you’ll see our work in the community, as best as we’re able to do it.

Enjoy the Shootout!