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HomeEvent CoverageTexas Outlaw Challenge Celebrates Sweet 16 With Sizzling Weather, Parties And Top Speeds

Texas Outlaw Challenge Celebrates Sweet 16 With Sizzling Weather, Parties And Top Speeds

Leave it up to the organizers of the Texas Outlaw Challenge—an event created and still led by Texas native Paul Robinson who always strives to improve and expand the happening on Clear Lake and Galveston Bay—to sweeten the pot in celebration of its “sweet 16” this year. Not only did they up the ante with additional charitable efforts, three live bands and the use of bullet casings for drink tokens to enhance the theme during Saturday night’s Outlaws to the Max party at Marine Max, for the first time in the event’s history they “numbered” the stops for the two-day poker run.

With a 182-mph top speed on Friday during the Outlaw Shootout in Clear Lake, Texas, Arizona’s Gary Smith won his second top-speed shootout of the season in Predator III, his radical Skater 388. Photos courtesy Michael Moss

“Everyone had a really good time—I think we had the most ‘new’ people we’ve ever had register for the event,” said Robinson, who added that the boat count was a little shy of 100, which was the lowest it’s been in several years. “All of the venues welcomed us with open arms and did a great job accommodating everyone. And because we had less boats than normal, it ended up being a good year to mix it up and put the stops in order. The smaller size allowed us to complete the entire two-day event as a group, which provided a continuous party atmosphere that included all participants.

“The interesting thing is that the number of event participants didn’t decrease even though we had less boats sign up,” he added, pointing out that the four-people-per-boat average of years past doesn’t hold up thanks to groups of six, eight or 10-plus people signing up nowadays in their performance center consoles or outboard catamarans that can seat up to eight people. “For us, and we’ve always tried to think this way, our event is all about the people. The boats are the showpiece, obviously, but you can’t have a quality event without quality people. We’ve brought on more community-centered events and added things like our Sunday fishing tournament, which tripled in size this year, and all of that is great, but in the end it’s about the boaters. The event is for them and wouldn’t happen without them.”

Coming off his King of the Desert performance in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., during the Desert Storm Poker Run, Arizona performance boater Gary Smith enjoyed himself at the Texas Outlaw Challenge once again as he defended his Top Gun championship with a 182-mph top speed in Predator III, his 38-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran powered by a pair of turbocharged 2,500-hp engines from Brummett Marine. The speed the boat reached during Friday’s Outlaw Shootout on Clear Lake was seven mph faster than Smith’s 175-mph pass that won the 2022 event—and this year’s top-speed contest took place in significantly hotter conditions that topped 100 degrees.

Not far behind, Team Yahoo Racing’s Curtis Morris and Jamin Jones hit the three-quarter-mile course and laid down a 177-mph pass in Morris’ 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran powered by a pair of 2,000-plus-hp Boostpower USA engines. Not happy with its overall performance, the Texas-based team managed to find the positives following a nerve-wracking day.

The Texas-based Team Yahoo Racing crew of Curtis Morris and Jamin Jones reached 177 mph on the three-quarter-mile course in their 36-foot Skater.

“It was a tough day but we were still very competitive,” Jones said. “Our first run went pretty well and the boat felt good—we ended up running 177 mph. On our second pass we lost power in the port engine at 163 mph. The boat hooked, but Curtis and I kept it under control and got safely off the course. We thrashed to try and figure out what happened, hoping to get another run in, but ended up discovering that we lost the coils for cylinders 5 and 7 due to an ignition issue. After the shootout, we determined the problem was caused by our installation of the engines. The new engines are incredible—Alexi (Sahagian) at Boostpower has been instrumental in our success.

“We’re going to pull the engine and ship it back to Alexi in California to get it freshened up before LOTO,” he added, referring to the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri in late August. “It wasn’t the outcome we wanted but now we know the boat is FAST! I think we will be a force to be reckoned with at LOTO.”

Although he is not sure if he’ll make the trip north for the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout this year, local performance boater Cass Shewbart said he enjoyed a rewarding yet long weekend in both of the Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats V-bottoms he brought to the event.

On-lookers at the Stampede Street Party Thursday night at Kemah Boardwalk were able to get a great look at Liquid Prozac, his SL 44 powered by a pair of naturally aspirated Mercury Racing 860 engines, and XXX Disturbing The Peace, his 47 GTX powered by quad Whipple-supercharged 632-cubic-inch Factory Billet engines pumping 1,600 hp on race fuel and 1,300 hp on pump gas. The following morning, Shewbart and his crew prepped both boats to compete in the top-speed shootout and ended up taking home the event’s Top Outlaw title after reaching 114 mph in the 47-footer. XXX Disturbing The Peace also was the fastest V-bottom in 2022 with a 119-mph top speed.

“I have to thank everyone who helped us pull all that together,” Shewbart said. “It’s a lot of work displaying two boats and then running both the next day. Fortunately we were rewarded with the best display at the street party. We also took home awards for the fastest V-bottom overall and the fastest naturally aspirated V-bottom.

“We were slow but fast enough—we will be faster next time,” he continued. “We changed the gear ratio on the No. 6 drives and just guessed at the prop size. We didn’t have time to properly test different props, but the motors and boat are solid so we just need to work on the setup. Like I said, that was a lot of work. After displaying Thursday and running both boats Friday, we didn’t do the full poker run but we made it to all of the pool parties and a couple of the stops.”

Of course Shewbart and his crew weren’t about to miss the pool parties, especially the Friday afternoon bash—aka card stop No. 1—in Dickinson at the home of longtime sponsor Kenny Armstrong of DH Tech. Presented by Legend Marine Group at Harborwalk in Hitchcock, the Gunslinger Pool & Lunch Run on Saturday was off the hook once again, according to many in attendance.

“The whole event was fantastic,” said Greg Connell of longtime sponsor Legend Marine Group in Carrollton, Texas. “The Texas Outlaw Challenge brings out great people and some awesome boats. And the famous Texas weather was in full affect this year. Paul Robinson and Daryl Turner did a fantastic job of putting everything together. Legend Marine Group says thank you to everyone for showing up and supporting the event!”

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Check out the slideshow above for more Shootout images from Moss plus a few poker run pictures courtesy of Cheryl Rucker Meadows.

Along with the new Rolex Outlaw Quick Draw $100 per ticket raffle for charity, which happened to be won by the same participant who had this year’s best poker hand, Robinson said another custom gun was auctioned to raise money for a college fund started last year in honor of Eddie Guidry called the “Fast Eddie Award.”

“We presented 60-plus collector gun plaques at the awards party,” said Robinson, who added that the event awards, such as best paintjob and best-dressed crew, were renamed the “Legend Awards” this year. “Because they are original year-one sponsors, we came up with the Legends Awards to honor our original outlaws, Greg and Jennifer from Legend Marine. Then we asked Greg and Jennifer to select the various winners throughout the weekend and get on stage and present the trophies.”

Despite the hot conditions that may have played into the event’s lower boat count—that’s what the pool parties are for, right?—the 16th annual Texas Outlaw Challenge proved to be another successful gathering with several updates that should be here to stay.

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