With the fifth annual FASTTRAC Texas Outlaw Challenge less than three weeks away (June 21-24), I decided now would be my best chance to catch up with organizer Paul Robinson before things get too hectic for the promoter of the event in Clear Lake, Texas.
Robinson, who started the "East meets West" poker run in 2008 and has added new things to it each year, said he's expecting this year to be bigger than ever as boaters from across the country have already registered for the event, which will assemble its poker run village at the Endeavour Marina.
"We have a lot of manufacturer participation this year from many companies that haven't joined us in the past," said Robinson, adding that the event's pre-registration has tripled from last year. "I know we've got a large contingent of MTIs and Skaters coming into town as well as factory-supported boats from Dave's Custom Boats and Nordic Boats.
"Overall people are going to have a great time," he continued. "Our greatest success is earning the invite to bring back the event next year. On many levels, it has to be good for the community so we can keep putting it on."
The four-day event kicks off with the Stampede Street Party on Thursday at the Kemah Boardwalk, which includes support for the Boys & Girls Harbor with boat rides for kids from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
On Friday, the Gunslinger Poker Run and Outlaw GPS Shootout begin. From 11 a.m. to noon, a designated safety course will be set up on Galveston Bay for registered 100-mph-plus boats. Boat speeds will be logged into the team's event GPS and will become posted into its class entry. All poker run boats will carry the event GPS units for the same purpose on Saturday, as top speeds can be registered at any point during the run. Six-shooter gunslinger trophies will be awarded for more than 20 classes and the overall fastest entry will receive the Big Gun Shootout Award.
Also on Friday is the first premier stop for the poker run, which is basically a Texas-sized pool party at the home of event sponsor Kenny Armstrong of DH Tech, from noon to 4 p.m.
Saturday's festivities include the remainder of the poker run and the shootout with 12 different card stops along Galveston Bay and Clear Lake. The evening's live entertainment begins at 6 p.m. with the Texas Rodeo BBQ Dinner as well as the poker run card draw and casino games. After that comes the poker run prizes, shootout awards and the $5,000 Miss Outlaw bikini contest.
On Sunday, participants will be rounded up for a brunch followed by a raft-up and pool party at Allen's Channel Ranch in Nassau Bay.
In addition, Robinson has added the Texas Outlaw Corral where people can buy, sell or trade boats throughout the weekend (see previous story). Robinson said there will even be national and local dealers/brokers on hand offering on-site contracts (if desired) and future sale prospects.
"Like every new aspect of this event, the Outlaw Corral is gaining momentum," Robinson said. "We have a lot of interest from local boaters as well as some from around the country."
The good news, according to Robinson, is that the event has a participant entry option for owners who can't join the poker run or other event activities because their boat is "on the trailer" for sale.
For complete details check out the event's new website.