Well, it was that time of the year again, and boy were we excited about it! That favored long weekend every spring when Raptor lovers from around the country gather in the heart of Blackwell, Texas at the 5,000-acre Texana Ranch to enjoy dirt, Texas BBQ, camels and a lil’ competition. We’re talking about the annual Texas Raptor Run (“TRR”) sponsored by Rogue Racing. This year’s event took place on May 19 -22, 2016, and welcomed 80 Raptors and well over 150 participants.
Anyone who has participated in this event in any of the past 5 years knows how thrilling it is to experience driving, or even co-piloting, a Ford F150 Raptor through the 43-mile course terrain at the Texana Ranch. The boys at Texas Raptor Run work carefully with the ranch owner to design the course, which is normally ran in two sections. This year, the first half was fast and rough, while the back half was twisty and more technical in nature.
As is customary with each TRR event, RV hookups were available for those who brought their rig for camping, as well as tent camping spots with bathrooms, showers, and even a swimming pool. This year, registration for each truck was $375, which included one driver and one co-driver. Additional drivers were $50 each and all participants received two delicious Texas BBQ dinners, driver bags, as well as an official TRR 2016 t-shirt.
Gates to the ranch opened Thursday morning, and the rigs began to roll in. One of the most exciting arrivals was the Ford Motor Company rig, which had onlookers jostling for a spot to see what was unloaded. Once parked, the Ford Event Staff opened the trailer and unveiled a brand new 2017 Ford F150 Raptor. Boy was she pretty. The new Raptor was parked on display during the whole event at the Ford booth for everyone to drool over.
As more guests arrived, the Ranch hosted the first safety meeting of the weekend at noon, going over course details, driving expectations and other safety details. The track officially opened up at 1pm and everyone had multiple chances to pre-run the course until 10pm.
Friday morning began with a 9am safety meeting, and the track opened at 10am. The hours flew by as one Raptor after another buzzed by the start and finish line. There were Raptors of all levels of modification at the event, which gave everyone a chance to watch the aftermarket upgrades of different vendors in action. Whether the truck was completely stock or fully caged and supercharged, all participants experienced the fun factor capable in the beastly Ford Raptor. While they weren’t driving, guests had a chance to visit with many vendors who had displays at the event. Products were available for purchase at vendor tents, and other vendors, such as RPG Offroad, performed complimentary shock tunes to dial-in each customer’s suspension. 806 Desert Customs and Miller Motorsports were on hand to perform truck triage and repair as needed. At 7pm all who were interested hopped into their trucks and caravanned through the ranch on the wildlife tour. Texana Ranch is home to a multitude of wild animals including buffalo, steer, camels, and introducing the Zonkey - part zebra, part donkey. We always look forward to this part of the weekend as these are not animals we mingle with on a regular basis. Participants be aware - you never know how up-close-and-personal those camels may get! After the animal antics, drivers competed in the Apollo Optics Lighting Shootout - a night ride on the course with drivers showcasing their aftermarket light set ups.
Saturday morning saw a 9am safety meeting and the track opened at 10am. The early risers who didn’t have too much fun on Friday night got to experience the fresh dew on the morning course, but everyone got out at some point since the track was open until 6pm. There were some tricky spots on the course that drivers had to be mindful of, designed to test the skill of the drivers and the set-up of the truck suspension. Regardless of whether a driver took the course at 100 mph or 30, the track was a blast. Drivers had to be alert, however, for many times an albino buffalo or overly-friendly camel would bless them with their presence in the middle of the track. Dinnertime on Saturday was one that we look forward to all year long - the amazing Texas BBQ dinner under the TRR tent generously sponsored by Ford Motor Company. It’s so much fun to eat good food, enjoy refreshing beverages and relive the makes and mistakes of the day. This is what TRR is all about - good folks driving great trucks, having fun. We capped off Saturday with the Rigid Industries Hot Laps from 7-10 pm, allowing drivers one last chance to enjoy high speeds and bright lights on the course at night.
Sunday came all too quickly and it was sad to watch the tents get folded, rigs packed up and everyone leave the ranch. This year’s Texas Raptor Run was one for the books - though the crowd was smaller than previous years, the fun was no less. We would like to thank Carl Beal and Matt Parks of the Texana Ranch and Trey Paliero of Texas Raptor Runs for another memorable year.
We’ll definitely be back in 2017!