With the April 22-25 Desert Storm event in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., just a week away, organizer Jim Nichols of LakeRacer LLC is—to put it mildly—slammed. But that didn’t stop him from taking a few minutes to chat with me on the phone this afternoon. Here’s what he had to say.
How is the event shaping up?
Phenomenally. It’s going to be the biggest one we’ve ever done. We have more sponsors than we’ve ever had. Mercury Racing came on as a huge sponsor this year—they’re selling Desert Storm apparel all over the country. We have 165 boats pre-registered. I had to expand the Street Party by another third because of the boats and vendors that wanted to be there. And I had to turn away a lot of people because, frankly, I just didn’t have room.
Tell me about the fleet.
I think we have 16 or 18 Skaters, 11 MTIs, boats from Statement Marine and Liquid Glass, a 50-foot Mystic, and a 51-foot Magnum. Mike Fiore from Outerlimits is bringing two boats, the yellow cat and a 44-footer. We also have boats coming from the new Spectre organization. The Midwest is Fountain country, but we even have a couple of Fountains. And of course we have a lot DCBs and Eliminators, because we’re right in their backyard.
Why has Desert Storm become so successful?
That’s a little bit of a mystery in away, but it seems to be a combination of the town really appreciating everybody coming out, and making them feel welcome. We’ve sold the town on what we can do. And I think the people who come like the organization of the event. They know that things will happen when we say they are going to happen—they can count on it. Online registration has been a big thing. People really seem to like that. And I have to give credit to Bob Teague (of Teague Custom Marine, Desert Storm’s title sponsor). When he says he’s behind something, he really gets behind it. I think he puts in as much as I do.
What’s the toughest part of organizing this kind of event?
Trying to take care of 50 to 75 sponsors and 150-plus wealthy individuals who expected to be treated nicely. It is also very important to me to make sure the massive volunteer staff gets something out of it and enjoys it. I couldn’t do it without them.
What’s your personal favorite part of the event?
Well, Desert Storm was built on the poker run, so I really like that, and the Shootout has been embraced by everyone who comes. It’s also really nice to see what our community, and what our country, can produce. But the highlight is seeing the faces of the Marines we in bring from Camp Pendleton. They come in and they are adopted by the guys who take them out in the boats for the poker run. That’s really the highpoint for me.