Last minute entry of the 2022 Dam-to-Dam Challenge Brad Ekstam , owner of FASS Fuel Systems, with his new carbon fiber Wright Performance 420 powered by twin Mercury Racing 450Rs, and joined by offshore racer and Performance Boat Center sales guru Rusty Williams, obliterated the standing record with an impressive 1 hour, 39 minutes, 23 seconds–besting the previous time of 2:29:49, set by Tyson and Tristan Garvin in 2014.
The event was initially to be run by MTI‘s Taylor and Randy Scism in their TS Motorsports 390XR offshore race boat going against Tyler and Lindsey Miller of Team M Con Racing in their Skater 368 pleasure boat–both boats also powered by Mercury Racing 450Rs, who was raising funds for the Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas and Kids’ Harbor charities respectively.
The event involves a 188-mile run from Bagnell Dam in Lakeside, MO to Truman Dam in Warsaw, MO and back, featuring a LeMans-style start where each boat’s team member must physically touch land at both stops, to officially start and conclude the total elapsed time. All three teams started at the Neon Taco restaurant near Bagnell Dam at 6:30 a.m. sharp and was chased by Tom Cline Helicopter with Speedboat Magazine photographer Todd Taylor on board documenting the record-setting run.
Shortly after beginning the run and charging strong out in front was Team MTI with a respectable lead but unfortunately had mechanical issues after picking up debris in the water pickup and was ultimately out of the competition. In a commendable show of sportsmanship, MTI driver and LOTO Shootout honorary chairperson Taylor Scism said in a social media post, “unfortunately we are down. They don’t call it a ‘Challenge’ for nothing!!! Good luck to the other two boats still in it.”
Team M Con, who was again joined on board by boating veteran Shane Sherman, ran into difficulties when their propellers lost blades during the run, with one blade thrown off the first one and three off of the second. They had similar propeller problems when the team attempted, but failed to complete the run last month. Despite this, Tyler Miller and company were overjoyed with the morning’s turnout.
“(We’re) ecstatic,” said Miller. “After three attempts at the Dam record… to finally finish under power was a great feat for our team. We’ve all put everything we’ve had into completing this run it was very humbling to finally finish. And the best part of the entire event is this time we were able to give back to the children and that is what true team work and relationships are about. Our charity of choice Kids Harbor and Taylor’s charity of choice Make-A-Wish–at the end of the day are what truly made this event and finish the most successful and gratifying to-date.”
But it was the determined team of Ekstam and Williams in the Wright Performance 420 that kept the hammer down and managed to run trouble-free, averaging an impressive 112 mph, to claim the coveted title of the Dam-to-Dam Challenge record holder.
“It was extremely fun,” said Williams. “It was way more exciting than I could ever imagine. Even comparing it to racing (offshore) boats because you’re navigating, watching the waters, watching the debris, and also watching your engine data–it was quite the adrenaline rush.”
Ekstam concurs. “The morning was great! So much fun! Meeting with the people, the camaraderie–we’re all competitive but I was sad when MTI got knocked out. They’re good people. But now I wanna beat (the record) again. I think we can do it.”