You would think that 239 boats registered for yesterday’s Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., which finishes up today with its top-speed shootout, would be a record for the event. Not so. But close.
“Actually, we had 250 boats one year, said Ashley Rodriguez, the self-described “chaos coordinator” for the Storm Poker Runs team of Phantom Productions, the organization that—led by Christina Nichols—puts on the annual event.
“But it’s a post COVID-19 record,” she added, then laughed.
By any measure, the turnout was impressive, especially after the event was cancelled in 2020 and faced endless hurdles, which Nichols and her crew overcame, this year. The turnout for Thursday night’s massive street party and exhibit on McCulloch Boulevard foreshadowed yesterday’s poker-run turnout.
And Teague Custom Marine’s Cherilyn Teague had a front-row seat to both happenings.
“I’m not sure how many boats were out on the water, but in any case it did seem like a lot of boats on the river—both poker runners and spectators—for sure,” she said. “We went down early and anchored to the side to watch the first groups go by and then we continued down to Havasu Springs to pick up our first card. Then we hit Steamboat and Thompson Bay on the way back up. It was enjoyable to watch for a little bit and then go out in the mix.
“The street party for sure was a record,” she continued. “I really don’t think it was ever that big. Maybe it was that crowded at some years, but only at night. This time, it was packed literally from 1 p.m. to the end.”
Enjoy more images from the Desert Storm Poker Run in the slideshow above.
Among the boat’s in yesterday’s poker run fleet was Tommy Bahama, a former MTI raceboat of note that was immaculately restored by Arizona’s Tom Mischke. The 2001-built 44-footer stood out to participants and onlookers, not an easy thing to do in a fleet loaded with beauties from DCB Performance Boats, Eliminator Boats, Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats, Skater Powerboats, Wright Performance and more.
“The boat is running very well,” said Mischke. “We had a few little hiccups that took us off the water this week, but we got them all sorted out. We’ve been spending a lot of time with (MTI company founder) Randy Scism and the MTI owners who are here. What a delightful group of people they are.”
The Desert Storm festivities conclude today with the traditional top-speed shootout.
“The poker run was terrific—it went really well,” said Jeff Johnston of Southern California-based DCB. “Now, we’re getting ready for the shootout. The wind is picking up, though, so I’m not sure how long they’ll run.”
Tommy Bahama will open the shootout with a run down the three-quarter-mile course flying an American flag.
“The boat turned out to be very popular down here,” Mischke said, then chuckled.
With more than 200 boats on the water, the 2021 Desert Storm Poker Run didn’t lack for high-performance eye-candy.