Today, April 23, 2014, is the opening Day for the 16th Annual Desert Storm here in Lake Havasu. 

Desert Storm has been named "One of the Top 5 Poker Runs in the Nation" by Performance Boats Magazine. Our town is buzzing with anticipation of this great event! These next 4 days will be packed with adrenaline pumping races, speed boats, and parties. This year I am participating in the Poker Run (with Dave Barker in the pilot seat), and we were lucky enough to be interviewed by Performance Boats... Here it is:

Running with the big boys at Desert Storm


The Desert Storm Poker Run, which is taking place this weekend on Arizona’s Lake Havasu, has become one of performance boating’s biggest events and for good reason. All the major manufacturers including Douglas Marine (Skater,) Marine Technologies Inc., Outerlimits, DCB Racing and more attend the week of activities including the street party and shootout, showing off their biggest and baddest equipment.
 Then there are the privately owned boats powered by some of most amazing engines built by Teague Custom Marine, GT Performance, Paul Pfaff Enterprises among others. Skater 40s and 46s and MTI 42s and 48s and DCB 41s all powered by Mercury Racing 1350s and 1650s fill the fleet and for many of these guys, running 150 mph could be a daily occurrence. Even though it’s not a race, everyone wants to know who is first to the first card stop.
There’s a pretty good chance that 2014 participants Paul Bruce and Dave Barker won’t be among those vying for bragging rights in the run to the first card stop. They have the smallest entry in the fleet, a 22’ Schiada V-drive powered by a 650-hp engine. Make no mistake, it’s an impressive boat with a top speed in the 80-mph range, but at Desert Storm, well you know.
“If it wasn’t a Schiada with a V-drive and cavitation plates on it, I’d be way more concerned, said Bruce. “But we have no delusions that we’re going to be the first guys to the card stop.”
He continued, “Every year a big group of us raft up and watch the guys go flying by or flipping over,” said Bruce, 54, who retired to Lake Havasu City, Ariz., a few years ago, got bored and is now back to his roots selling Real Estate. “We decided we shouldn’t just sit around and watch it, we should do it next year.”
Bruce and Barker, who is in his late 30s and lives in Torrance, Calif., became friends through the River Dave’s Place and Hot Boat websites. Bruce also owns a Schiada, a 21’ River Tunnel with a 300-hp Mercury Racing 300 XS outboard. For Barker, there’s a little more to the story. He’s a cancer survivor so maybe he’s crossing one adventure off his bucket list. Entering the event gets the pair into all the parties and events such as the street party, but they’re not entering the speed trials. Barker knows how fast his boat goes.
 
 

Bruce admits that the $450 entry fee is a definite stretch for the smaller boats and that he knows a number of guys who own boats in the 25’ to 30’ range who might enter an event like Desert Storm if the fees were less and it wasn’t such a showcase of the million-dollar 200-mph boats.
 “If they had a category for the everyday boaters, if they could get in for a lot less money, they’d have a lot more of these guys,” explained Bruce.
 He suggested a $250 entry fee for boats up to 25’ or 27’ long and maybe a shorter course or different card draw. Bruce said that somewhere between 80 to 100 guys from the aforementioned websites raft up to watch the poker run and within that gathering at a host of first-class 80- and 90-mph boats.
 Whether or not Bruce and Barker are paving the way for a new wave of participants in the Desert Storm Poker Run remains to be seen, but for this year, they’re keeping it real. “We’re a couple of guys who are into performance boats and a 22’ Schiada is a heavier boat that's good in rough water,” said Bruce. “We’ll just kind of take it easy and have fun.”