Lake of the Ozarks Shootout & Shootout Offshore 2024

By Christy Wagner, Editor | Photos Courtesy of Lake Shots Photography

As yet another year has swiftly come and gone, the Mini Shootout—a hobby enthusiasts’ local gathering and Shootout fundraiser for remote-controlled (RC) boat owners to come together and compete across a series of 16 classes—will celebrate its 15th annual jubilation this August over the weekend preceding the Shootout’s main races.

In what has become typical Shootout fashion in recent years, 2023 broke records across the board for Mini Shootout RC boat participants, along with total funds raised for Lake Area charities and first responders. Proceeds from this event pool with all Shootout and Shootout Offshore-related fundraisers throughout the year to create the total amount raised and donated annually. Like the main race event, Mini Shootout enthusiasts travel from all across the United States and beyond to participate each year, according to Lance Hedrick, President of the Mini Shootout.

“Last year, we saw nearly 100 RC boat participants, which was more than we’ve ever had,” explained Hedrick. “We saw 92 boats register and run in 2023, 70 boats in 2022, and 64 boats in 2017 with owners traveling to Ha Ha Tonka State Park each year from places such as Canada, Florida, all of our surrounding states, and beyond.”

Although the top speed clinched and the winners’ glory is wholly dependent upon their class type—similar to the main Shootout and even Shootout Offshore—this allows for more winners across the entirety of the event. Class winners are categorized based on criteria such as being a gas, nitro, turbine, or electric powered boat, and even those classes have specifications, limits, and parameters for participants. Last year saw a total of sixteen winners with top speeds ranging between 28 and 119 miles per hour. At these speeds, Ken and Barbie had better hang onto their hats.

With so many different types of RC boats being allowed to compete at the Mini Shootout, racing is also open to all ages, which makes this the perfect bonding activity for many families. Well into halfway through a second decade of racing miniature boats along the waters of the Lake of the Ozarks, Hedrick has watched young children grow up and become RC boat owners and participants as young adults with children of their own now.

“A truly exciting part for me can be found in watching as little kids who started 15 years ago, are now 15 years older and they’re bringing their own kids to create a whole new generation of RC boat hobbyists,” Hedrick continued. “We have a whole group of young kids who became interested in this hobby and grew to where they’re now teaching younger kids to find interest in it, too. This is one of the most family-oriented events that the Shootout plays host to each year.”

Believe it or not, RC boats are now capable of reaching close to the same top speeds that the Top Gun winners racing in full-sized vessels have at the Lake of the Ozarks (with 206 miles per hour recorded globally in 2021). These boats are a stark contrast to Nikola Tesla’s awkward prototype from nearly 130 years ago, and the RC boats themselves carry a sharp resemblance to those of today’s life-sized vee bottoms and catamarans. According to Pro Boat Models, a mini hull size falls below 20 inches in length, whereas a standard-sized hull ranges in size from approximately 20-30 inches long and a large hull measures over 40 inches in length. For good measure, it is not recommended to operate RC boats in a pool or small pond—yet another reason to live here at the 93-nautical-mile-long Lake of the Ozarks.

This year’s Mini Shootout will again be held at Ha Ha Tonka State Park along the Big Niangua Arm between August 16th and August 18th. To follow this event on Facebook, please visit the 15th Annual Lake of the Ozarks Mini Shootout event page today. Registration can be done on Friday at the Meet & Greet at 92 Tonka Spring Court in Camdenton, Mo. Pre-registered boats that sign up on Friday will have their numbers listed on the run board, and they’ll be some of the first to participate on race day. RC boat owners can also register on either Saturday or Sunday for that day’s races. Information can also be found on the main Shootout’s website.

If you were looking for something to do as a family and to get those kids outside this summer, this could be it. We’ll see you this August with your remote-controlled boats and G-Force Barbies!