“This can’t be Texas,” we told ourselves as we made the drive from DFW airport west to Sweetwater TX. There were too many trees and it was too lush. It was green. Where were the coyote’s howling and prarie dogs running across the bleak desert landscape? This looked more like Northern California, though at the 3-hour mark on our drive from Dallas, we knew we were “deep in the heart” of Texas.
When we arrived at the ReadyLift sponsored Texas Raptor Run, held at the beautiful Texana Ranch in Blackwell, Texas, we were greeted by what we can only call riding heaven. First, there were around 110 Raptors in attendance, and second, we’d been to Texas before and it had been some desolate country. Not here. There were hills liberally dotted with trees and hundreds of miles of awesome trials that we couldn’t wait to get out on.
There were also some clouds. It had rained the previous few days and there was already some muddy sections, but TRR honcho Trey Palreiro and his crew had been hard at work making sure that the 43-mile long track was in shape and ready for the weekends adventures. After all, they had 110 Raptor drivers from all over the country showing up. There were Raptors from Florida to California. Close to 20 states were represented, with the furthest away coming from Washington State.
As well attended the Run was from a Raptor standpoint, it was packed with vendors. While ReadyLift was the main sponsor, others such as KC HiLites, Icon, Addictive Desert Designs, LGE*CTS Motorsports, Texas Motorworx, Fox, Nitto, Method, Baja Designs and many more. If you wanted to add parts to your Raptor then and there, it was possible. There was a lot of wrenching going on in the pits.
The conditions for the Friday early morning runs were perfect, but early afternoon the sky opened up and the rains came. Actually, the rains and wind was so hard that it was blowing sideways. Lots of lightning too, but that just made it more fun. Eventually the rain stopped and the Raptors were back on the course. Saturday dawned clear and blue skies welcomed all to the track. It was a little muddy, but hey, that’s part of off road driving.
The Texas Raptor Run is not a race per se, but there were some drivers pushing the limits of their rigs, and a few mishaps occurred. Sliding wide in corners and tapping trees was common and there were a few bent frames from launching too aggressively. There was even a well-appointed Chevy truck that showed up; he left part of his fiberglass rear side panel out on the trail.
The Texana Ranch is owned by Carl Beal and his dad Carty Beal and covers over 5000 acres. Both Beal’s are into off road as Carl was named rookie of the year in BITD last year and the Texana Ranch itself came about when some 40 years ago, Carl and his motorcycle riding buddies were in danger of losing the area, so he bought it. Problem solved.
Palreiro hosts many different types of Raptor events at the ranch in addition to TRR. There’s Raptor X, which is a timed event and Raptoberfest. If you want to have a great time in your Raptor on a world-class venue, go to texasraptorrun.com to get the information on how to attend one or all these runs. We know we’ll be back.