Although Louisiana’s Casey Harrison and Tennessee’s Justin Lucas are primarily known amongst performance boat enthusiasts as the friendly, dedicated, forward-thinking guys who help put together two of the coolest, wildest, most-fun poker runs in the country—the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run and the Lake Cumberland Thunder Run—there’s actually much more to the two lifelong boaters than many people know.
The friendly faces behind the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run and Lake Cumberland Thunder Run—Casey Harrison (left) and Justin Lucas (right)—are two of the most-dedicated powerboat enthusiasts in the country. Photos courtesy Casey Harrison and Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
They both have “real jobs” and they both have been around boats for most of their lives, which may seem fairly obvious considering their passion for producing events and the fact that each of them owns a go-fast boat.
The 33-year-old Harrison—who helps run his family’s metal supply business, Harrison Metal Works in Baton Rouge, as well as his own logistics company for endurance events such as 5K/10K races, marathons and triathlons—grew up on various fishing boats before owning a 25-foot Baja Marine sportboat and moving up to the twin-engine 1988 Cigarette Racing Team 31 Bullet he currently owns and completely rebuilt over the past few years. While he’s disappointed he didn’t get to spend early May with his friends from all across the country after the Tickfaw 200 was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrison is looking forward to the 2021 poker run and hopeful that the wedding planned for the fall with his fiancé, Ariel, still happens.
The 41-year-old Lucas, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force who has 11 years (and counting) of service in the Air Force Reserve, spent his summers on Lake Cumberland for as long as he can remember. In fact, his family still owns a houseboat on the lake’s Conley Bottom Resort. Now married to his lovely wife, Erin, and a father of three kids, Lucas, who has owned a 20-foot Baja, a 28-foot Sunsation, a 28-foot Skater, a 32-foot Fountain, a 30-foot Concept and now an outboard-powered 32-foot Spectre catamaran, works as the county services administrator for Collier Engineering and still spends as much time as possible on Lake Cumberland. On top of organizing the mid-June Lake Cumberland Thunder Run with his longtime friend and fellow Lake Cumberland Powerboat Club founder, Dan Weiss, for the past 12 years, Lucas was previously involved with the fun run on Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee until his efforts shifted to the Chattanooga Poker Run, which is taking place at the end of July for the first time.
Because they’re both so likable, we decided to check in with Harrison, a two-time Ironman finisher, and Lucas, who has a substantial RC boat collection, to get to know them a little better.
How did you become an event organizer and what did you learn from it?
Harrison: When I was 21, I bought a 25-foot Baja and took it over the Blood River Landing, the marina where the Tickfaw 200 is held. I met Crazy Charlie (Albert, the late founder of the marina and the event) and he shadowed me that summer to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid in the boat. He died in an accident a year later and when Joey (Fontenot) took over the marina, he asked me if I wanted to help with the poker run. I was 22 back then and didn’t know any better so I said, “Sure why not?”
As far as what I’ve learned, that’s easy. Everybody has a buddy who knows you, that’s No. 1 (laughs). Seriously, the most significant thing is that you never know who is standing in front of you so I try to treat everyone the same way and be respectful.
Lucas: Before I started the Thunder Run with Dan Weiss, I was living in Texas in the Air Force. At the time, there was the Team Baja Marine website, which had a good following and strong camaraderie—so much so that there were Team Baja events around the country, including one on Lake Travis. So me and a couple of the guys from our local lake, Possum Kingdom Lake, decided to do our own event. It was small, but we had T-shirts made up, gave out prizes and had several small sponsors. I vaguely remember doing that though. Then the Thunder Run came about, which was basically just a conversation Dan and I had one day while floating in a cove in 2008. We felt the lake needed an event earlier in the year to complement the big poker run in September, and in 2009 we did our first run.
From a learning experience, I have to give Dan credit because he taught me right away that you don’t always have to take no for an answer. That doesn’t mean we just do what we want, it just means that we don’t give up when something doesn’t go our way or gets turned down.
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