What in the world are we doing? A question that is generally met with laughter, smiles, and maybe even a shoulder shrug or two. When we asked that same question to some of the participants of the 2018 Texas Raptor Run (TRR), many of them just looked at us like we were crazy for even asking. We love anything to do with off-road recreation.
Since we all love off-road, we can understand why so many people looked at us weird for asking, but it led us to a real question of why people spend so much time, money, and energy participating in events like the Texas Raptor Run. Is it the chance to take your vehicle off-road and use it for what is what designed? Is it that people just want to have the opportunity to escape the daily grind? Is it that we all strive to connect with other people who share the same interests as us?
Something that becomes apparent when you repeatedly attend the Texas Raptor Run is that you start to see the same faces over and over again. Of course, there are always new people at an event, and that’s a good thing, but you definitely start to see a lot of the same people. We sought out some of those familiar faces and asked them why they make this lifestyle a priority in their busy lives.
Angie Garcia has attended 12 events since 2014, including TRR, Baja Raptor Run (BRR), Raptorberfest, and others. “Off-roading is gaining more mainstream popularity as more manufacturers and accessory companies are coming to the party, so each year it gets more exciting,” she said. “There is a certain anticipation prior to each event. I love the planning, fixing, upgrading, packing of the trucks, and the convoys; gotta love the convoys. I still go to these events because of the camaraderie. I love the people I’ve met in this community. They’re some of the best around. The tracks always offer the best thrills around, but the base camp is where the party is.”
Tim Jackson has attended six Texas Raptor Run events. He had no problem opening up with us and letting us know exactly why he continues to come back. “This year was amazing,” he said. “The San Antonio group really comes together and we make the best of every situation.”
“On the management side of it, Trey and his TRR team did an amazing job making sure that everything was on time and seamless to the timeline that he posted,” Jackson continued. “The reason I go is not always to have fun in the truck. My truck was under the knife and I didn’t even bring it. I’ve said this many times to many people, but I truly enjoy meeting and hanging out with others that enjoy the same thing I do. Do not get me wrong, I really wish my truck wasn’t on jack stands, but man, did we have fun!”
Something that was pretty interesting to us was that even though Tim did not have his own truck ready for this event, there was no shortage of people willing to let him take their trucks for a spin. These are some expensive machines and the trust and friendliness that is shared by attendees at Texas Raptor Run events is unlike anything we have seen at previous gatherings. It added to the experience for us, and you quickly see that these events are more than just an opportunity to go fast.
We spent some time with event regular Carlos Martinez and he said, “I’ve attended six of the seven Texas Raptor Runs and I’ve attended all of the Raptorberfest events. This year’s TRR was better because it gave me an opportunity to see firsthand that the second-generation Raptor is just as capable, if not more so in certain respects, as the first-generation Raptor.”
Martinez continued: “I attend the TRR events to escape ‘city life’ and utilize the Raptor for its designed off-road purpose. The fellowship and spending time with great people who share a common interest is another great reason to attend TRR. I’ve made many lifelong friends and had an opportunity to see how so many people at these events would do anything to help a total stranger in need. Additionally, raising money for such a worthy cause is the icing on the cake.”
Finally, we caught up with Alvin Olson and he told us, “I have attended six Texas Raptor Run, four Raptoberfest, and two RaptorX events. This year was awesome; I think we had as many second-gen trucks this year as first-gens.”
“I have seen some years with more trucks, and some years with fewer trucks,” Olson continued. “This year was above average for sure. There are lots of reasons I go to these events. At first, it started out with the fun of the track and learning how these trucks handle in such varied terrain. However, over the years, it has become more about the people. The track is awesome; the country is spectacular, it’s very beautiful.”
The people that attend are amazing and the most generous people we have ever known. No man or woman is left behind. If you have an issue, there is a line of people that will help you do whatever it takes to get back on the road.
When we brought up whether or not TRR was family-friendly, Olson had no trouble responding. “I bring my wife each year, and have had the kids visit with us on occasion,” he said. “We used to stay in the hotels outside of the Ranch, but now go through the effort of setting up an RV at camp and stay there the whole time.”
“The food, the people, the beverages until the wee hours of the morning, it’s all glorious,” he continued. “Sometimes, we have a fire pit and sit up all night talking about the fun of the day. The vendors that come out to offer their goods are amazing. The charity that is shown by all of these vendors to give and the money raised by TRR is so profound that it touches your soul. TRR events are much, much more than just an off-road track in the desert. They’re more like giant family reunions!”
While this is our second TRR event, we have also been present at six other events put on by Trey and Texas Raptor Run. At each of these previous events, the welcoming atmosphere and family-focused activities help to foster the feeling that all are accepted and appreciated. Whether a participant experiences a breakdown, gets stuck on the track, gets a little lost out on the 40-plus-mile track, or gets a little overzealous on a jump, other participants – and the TRR staff – are always there to lend a hand.
The overall answer to our original question appears to be the people. While getting out and pushing your rig is always a good time, it is more the social connection and creation of meaningful relationships that draws folks to events like TRR.
For us, this experience and truth is more than just a topic in an article or a footnote from an event. The decision to purchase a Ford Raptor and participate in events specific to off-road recreation has led to both personal and professional opportunities that would not have existed if we had not made that decision.
We have made some great friendships and had the chance to travel around the country to wheel in places that we otherwise may have never visited. The reality is that buying a four-wheel-drive vehicle creates an opportunity for more than just good times off-road. It creates the chance for an owner to join a community and have experiences and friendships that weren’t there before. We think that we could all use a bit more of that these days.
It’s easy to see why TRR continues to be successful. TRR provides a chance for people share an experience together. Both good decisions (and poor ones) are supported and accepted, and those kinds of good vibes are just the kind of thing that will make us come back, too.