In the space of five years, the Desert Storm Poker Run has evolved from a decidedly West Coast performance-boat run on a wet spot in the Arizona desert called Lake Havasu to a major event that attracts go-fast boats from the likes of Cigarette, Marine Technology, Inc., Outerlimits and Skater from around the country. That’s because Jim Nichols of LakeRacer LLC, which is presenting this year’s event April 22-25 once more with Teague Custom Marine, understands that to attract a big fleet you need a big show.
And Nichols knows how to put on a big show.
“On Tuesday night we have a V.I.P. dinner for the people involved with the ‘Puttin’ On The Wish’ Platinum Powerboat Club event on Wednesday,” Nichols told me earlier today. “On Thursday, we have the Street Fair (in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.) and instead of that being just an evening event we’re starting it at noon and having it run into the evening. That will give our sponsors, which this year include CMS (Cougar/Magic/Sleekcraft) more exposure.”
The poker run happens on Friday. In past years, the run has attracted up to 150 high-performance catamarans and V-bottoms. A portion of the proceeds from the poker run, said Nichols, is contributed to local charities.
“Part of the pot goes to the Havasu for Youth organization,” said Nichols. “We’ve also been successful raising money for Soldiers Angels. You know, one of the things we also do every year is host military guys and their families, usually Marines from Camp Pendleton. We usually end up with a half-dozen guys, put them up at the Nautical Inn (Desert Storm’s host hotel) and get them rides for the poker run.”
On Saturday, there’s the Desert Storm “Shootout,” a standing-start top-speed event. Nichols said that the permitting process for the Shootout, as well as the poker run and Pacific Offshore Powerboat Racing Association race on Sunday, with U.S. Coast Guard and Bureau of Land Management has gone smoothly.
But those aren’t the only agencies Nichols has been working with.
“I’ve been negotiating with the American Power Boat Association and (APBA president) Mark Weber to make the Shootout an APBA-sanctioned event,” he said. “That’s going well.”
With 1,600-hp engines in a 33-foot-long Eliminator Daytona catamaran, Greg Olsen took top honors at last year’s Desert Storm Shootout with a top speed of 174 mph.
“Mystic has contacted me to see if they can come and do a 200-mph pass this year,” added Nichols.
When it comes to Desert Storm, the show never stops. And on the subject of shows, stop by the Desert Storm/LakeRacer LLC booth at the Los Angeles Boat Show Feb. 18-21 for more information.