Another remarkable Desert Storm poker run on the books

With nearly 200 boats registered for yesterday’s edition Desert Storm Poker Tower and thousands of people gathered for Thursday’s huge Street Party, not to mention today’s high-speed gunfight, the annual event in Lake Havasu City, Arizona proved once again why it is one of the main poker races in the country.

The 2022 Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Arizona was more memorable than ever. Photos by Jeff Helmkamp/Helmkamp Pictures

Not only were there boats of various shapes and sizes represented by just about every manufacturer that has ever built a powerboat – that’s the beauty of Lake Havasu – the fleet of high-end, high-performance boats like DCB Performance Boats, Doug Wright Designs, Eliminator Boats, MTI, Mystical motorboats, Nor-Tech High Performance Boats, Nordic Boats, Outerlimits Offshore Motorboats, Skater Motor Boats, Marine Statement, Sunsation Boats and more was off the charts this year. You can see it for yourself in the slideshow below.

“We had the best time we’ve ever had at this year’s Desert Storm,” said Californian yachtsman Kenny Gonzales, who had his twin mercury race 43ft MTI catamaran with 1350/1100 engine RedRuM exhibited at the Street Party and enjoyed the poker run the next day on his home lake with family and friends. “Our RedRuM team went all in – the energy was electric, the people were amazing and the entire Desert Storm team was totally on point. This is my last year, but it won’t be our last storm of the desert.

Gonzales, who also spends time boating on Lake Eufaula in Oklahoma – the state where he grew up before moving to Southern California aged 10 with his mother – was joined this year by a ton of his friends from Oklahoma, including Taylor Doctorman, Steve Grier, Kyle Weese and many more.

“We hadn’t made the trip to Havasu in two years due to COVID, so we were riding no matter what this year,” said Doctorman, who owns a Marine Bass 29 Outlaw which was recently packaged with a design resembling one of its favorite Outerlimits V-bottoms after carrying out structural repairs to the boat and modifications to its twin Mercury Racing 500EFI engines. “It’s the only lake where I will drive 18 hours to hang out for a week (laughs). We love being on the west coast with the palm trees and the sun. And the Desert Storm Poker Run is like the Super Bowl of powerboating.

Check out the slideshow above for more footage from the poker run.

Scott James of South Carolina made the trip to Arizona to run his DCB M33R Widebody Catamaran powered by two Mercury Racing 450R engines and had a blast.

“We’ve been here all week and it’s been great,” said James, who was in good hands with the DCB team. “We’re back on the road to go home tomorrow.”

Fellow DCB owners Mauricio and Angie Vivanco of Southern California said they had a lot of fun between Thursday’s Street Party, where their DCB M44 Widebody catamaran was displayed on its tilting trailer, and the race of friday poker. It’s not easy to stand out among a group of DCB creations, but their 44ft open bow catamaran does.

Another of the most interesting boats at the event was to be Indiana-based yachtsman Nick Evans’ 50-foot Nor-Tech catamaran. Money recovered powered by a pair of 1150 hp Mafia HP engines. Evans, who recently launched a YouTube channel also called Recovered Money to document his poker run adventures and promote his sunken boat salvage business, had never been to Lake Havasu or attended the poker run, and he said this year’s event would not be his last .

“Desert Storm was a great experience,” Evans said, despite having an engine issue late Friday after completing all of the poker run stops. “Before I got here, I thought the event was going to have a Key West vibe, but it’s totally different. In fact, it may rank a bit better than Key West for me between the Street Party and the People. The love we felt from everyone here was amazing.

“People were great – I probably spoke to 1,000 people on Thursday,” he added. “It was crazy on the Strip; there were so many people taking pictures of the boat. And going through the chain before the poker run was pretty cool. It was unlike anything I’ve experienced. Couldn’t have asked for a better time, that’s for sure. It was expensive coming here from Indiana, but we will be back.

Enjoy more images from the Recovered Money team in the slideshow above.

As people took pictures of the monstrous Nor-Tech on Thursday, Evans was promoting the YouTube channel by selling shirts and raffle tickets for a 26ft American Offshore catamaran he is currently restoring to be given to Lake Cumberland Thunder Race on Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland in June.

“We have 10 big events planned this year and we’ll be making videos of each one,” he said. “I’m not a video expert, but I thought it would be fun to create a channel and have fun with it. Powerboating is my solution – I came from motor racing before that – so I just want to do my part to show how much fun it is. I also wanted to show what we do to be able to afford to do this.

On Friday, photographer Jeff Helmkamp enjoyed spending time with Nick Evans and his team.

Like everyone who took part in this year’s Desert Storm Poker Run, Evans is likely to go home, tell everyone how much fun he had – or in his case show everyone through videos – and bring more friends with him next year. And that’s why the Poker Race continues to be a must-attend event for performance boaters around the world.

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