When the leaves on the trees start turning golden brown and the sun begins to set earlier in the day, many people think of things like Thanksgiving, pumpkins, Halloween costumes, or Germany’s Oktoberfest. However Ford Raptor owners are a different breed. When the chill begins to form in the night air, one thing often comes to mind: Texas Raptor Runs Raptoberfest.
Every year, the Raptoberfest takes place at the MGI Motorsports and Fluharty Farm, located just outside of Gause, TX. For those not familiar with how large the Lonestar State is, Gause is a quick 2-hour drive North-West of Houston, (or 1 hour 35 minutes in a Raptor).
The cost to participate was $300 per driver, and $100 for passengers. This included an event t-shirt, dinner Saturday night, driver bag, access to the well-groomed track, and an ambulance ready to go at all times to help if need arose. In order to participate each truck had to be outfitted with a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, tow strap, and a method to secure everything into the bed, second spare tire, VHF radio and food for the weekend. Eager participants started arriving to the MGI Motorsports and Fluharty Farm around noon on Friday, September 30th.
Many attendees camped on-site in tents or motorhomes, while others checked in to one of a handful of suggested hotels a close distance from the farm. At 3pm on Friday, there was a driver safety meeting where drivers learned about course details, driving expectations, rules and regulations. The track opened up to drivers at 4pm and stayed open until 11pm. Everyone enjoyed a laid-back evening getting acquainted with one another, visiting with vendors and enjoying a variety of self-prepared dinners. For those who forgot to pack enough grub for the weekend, the Milano High School Senior Class had a concession stand at the event, which proved to be very convenient, and one of the favorite menu items was the breakfast burrito.
The Raptor community is not a large one, and events such as the Raptoberfest have taken place for a number of years now. So each year these events seem to have less “getting-to-know you” moments, and more reunions. There are high-fives, hand-shakes, and even some hugs among the Raptor “family” members. Almost immediately after the greetings, there seems to be a lot of commiseration among those family members as they confess their “mod addiction” to one another, share how they succumbed to their struggles in the past year, and proceed to show off their latest modifications. It’s actually really fun.
Saturday morning began at 8am with late registration for anyone arriving that day. At 9am there was another driver safety meeting, which was heavily attended, and the track opened at 10am. Saturday’s activities were exciting and fast-paced, with many participants taking rides in other raptors to enjoy driving styles different from their own, as well as to check out different Raptor modifications. Vendors were on-hand to sell products, answer questions, or help with any damages or mishaps. This particular weekend had some minor fender benders as well as two full roll-overs. Fortunately there were no serious injuries but plenty of exciting stories to take home.
Saturday night was full of exciting festivities. Starting at 6pm there was the always-anticipated Texas-style BBQ with chicken and brisket, coleslaw and bread. Before dinner Billy Stein, manager of cattle operations at MGI Motorsports and Fluharty Farm, blessed the dinner in prayer. Once dinner was completed, the raffle and auction for vendor-donated prizes began. There was a very special moment at the auction. One of the attendees at the event is a double-amputee, and his raptor is outfitted to enable him to drive without the use of his legs. There was another attendee who purchased a KC Lites Light Bar at the auction, then proceeded to walk over to the man in the wheelchair and gave him the light bar. Folks - this is what it is all about. The material aspects of these events - the trucks, modifications, driving abilities - they all take second place to the heart of the people who attend these events. These people have big hearts - and it shows. After dinner and the auction, drivers were back on the course until 11pm, testing their night driving skills and having a blast.
Bright and early Sunday morning the drivers woke up, wolfed down cups of coffee and a power breakfast and suited up for the last few hours on the track. The track was open from 9am to 2pm and everyone got in as many laps as they could before heading home. One big lesson learned at this year’s event was that these trucks do see their share of wear-and-tear, and it is very important that owners carefully inspect all parts of their vehicles on a regular basis to ensure they are in optimal working condition. There were part failures seen in suspension pieces that led to accidents at this event. One participant at the event had a minor mishap on the track, but the truck was still in drivable condition. On the last day of the event, she asked Corey of RPG Offroad to take a quick peek at her suspension to make sure it was safe to drive back home. Upon inspection, he noticed a serious problem with the upper control arms that would have caused a major accident on the drive home had he not found the issue. All Raptor owners are advised to find a trustworthy auto repair shop to make regular inspections of their trucks to make sure drivers and passengers are kept safe. At the very least, both before and after participating in an event such as Raptoberfest, please carefully inspect your vehicle to ensure no damage is present that would prevent you from having a lot of fun.
As usual there are some very special aspects of these organizations which deserve attention. The folks at MGI Motorsports and Fluharty Farm have a passion for people - and for organizations that help people. The two charities that were supported at this year’s Raptorberfest were Big Life Ministries out of Naples, Florida, and Orchard Africa, a Christian organization that supports poverty-stricken communities with food, care and church planting throughout South Africa. Over the past two years that Raptorberfest has enjoyed the MGI Motorsports and Fluharty Farm, they have raised over $80,000 for charities that the MGI folks are passionate about. This year’s event had a lofty goal for charitable donations - to raise $30,000 for these charities through the entrance fees, raffle and auction. Adam Bosch of MGI Motorsports owns a Trophy Truck and gave rides to anyone interested during the event, and donated all proceeds to the charities. Trey Palreiro of Texas Raptor Runs shared with us that a total of $28,300 was raised at the event and 100% given to the charities.
Raptoberfest 2016 was an absolute blast and we thank MGI Motorsports and Fluharty Farm for hosting the event, as well as Trey Palreiro of Texas Raptor Runs and the folks of Ford Raptor Forum for putting the time and energy into making this year’s event fun and memorable. We can’t wait for next year’s event!