According to Paul Robinson, the lead organizer of the one-and-only Texas Outlaw Challenge, which takes place in Clear Lake, Kemah, Seabrook and the surrounding communities June 24-28, next month’s event is moving forward as planned—with a few exceptions—for all the right reasons. Along with various safety measures being executed in support of the social distancing and no-contact requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Robinson and company have decided to implement a couple of late-in-the-game changes for this year’s 13th annual affair.
The Texas Outlaw Challenge is moving forward as planned—with a few exceptions—with next month’s 13th annual event. Photo courtesy Todd Taylor/Todd Taylor Images
Robinson, who whole-heartedly expressed that the Texas Outlaw Challenge has a commitment not just to the local community but to the powerboat industry and community across the country to showcase that performance boat enthusiasts can come together and be responsible while also having a good time, explained that the much-anticipated “Return of the Champions” top-speed shootout is being postponed until 2021. He’s also redirecting some of the event’s charitable contributions in what he’s identified as “The Tribute to Tickfaw,” in response to the cancellation of the popular Tickfaw 200 Poker Run in Louisiana, an event that has regularly co-promoted with the Texas Outlaw Challenge for several years.
“Cancelling the shootout was not an easy call,” Robinson said. “The decision was based on the use of essential emergency services—on-site ambulances, multiple law enforcement agencies, etc.—that we chose to not request, but rather leave the availability of these services for this community’s health-related needs.
“Being the largest event in the Texas marine community, the Texas Outlaw Challenge is responsible for numerous small businesses earning their biggest revenue during the event each year,” he continued. “This event is taking responsibility in 2020 for assisting their economic rebound and fulfilling much-needed charity goals. We also have an obligation to the manufacturers that have supported us for so many years to be able to come to Texas and showcase their products. This year a portion of our fundraising activities will include a donation to the Tickfaw 200’s charity goals in support of that great event and community. We all love the Tickfaw 200, and its organizers Joey (Fontenot) and Casey (Harrison) are two of the most sincere and humble guys on the circuit. Texas is going to step up and do what Tickfaw would do for us given the same situation.”
Robinson said fundraising activities will commence poolside at Kenny Armstrong’s longstanding Casa Party on Friday afternoon and continue throughout the evening at one of his favorite boating destinations, Barge 295 in Seabrook, where a new pirate party and tribute to Tickfaw is set to take place.
“We’re all in this together and I hope that everyone understands that we are stepping forward for the entire performance boat community not just for the people of Texas—this extends well beyond this event and this community,” Robinson stated. “Maybe it’s a bit ‘outlaw’ on our part, but hotels are open, restaurants are open and we have plenty of space for everyone.”
In a way—mainly because Robinson and his team have remained fluid by continuing to add events and mix things up on an annual basis—the Texas Outlaw Challenge leadership team may be the perfect team to pull off such a high-profile and populated gathering.
“We’ve always done things the right way and our safety record speaks for itself,” Robinson said. “Now we just want the boating community to see that we need help collectively. We have the space, we made the gesture, we just need the people to attend and support the event. And of course, have a great time.”
Robinson added that the Texas Outlaw Challenge is prepared for all health concerns as all of its activities are hosted at “open air” venues with plenty of space provided for guests to exercise social distancing. Sanitizers and masks for all guests are going to be provided and each captain (being responsible for his crew in any maritime situation) is going to be issued a no-touch thermal temperature gun.
“Yes, this year the Outlaws are swapping their six-shooters for infrared guns,” Robinson said with a laugh.
Finally, in support of social distancing and no-contact requirements, registration will only be accepted through online pre-registration. Robinson encouraged interested participants to register online now as there is not going to be any on-site registration this year. The last day to register is Monday, June 17.
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