The first story I ever covered for RDP was the 2016 Long Beach Grand Prix. Dave told me… “I don’t give a shit who wins the race. Just tell us about the experience and who you partied with in the pits! What was it like, who were you with?”. So thats what I did. I’ve been shooting and writing for RDP ever since.

This year, I set out with the best of intentions to get great coverage of Desert Storm and make a better effort at getting the details to write about, but when you shoot for RDP you tend to get sucked into the party. That logo on my shirt (and this year my cowboy hat) is a magnet for getting drinks bought for me. And who am I to turn down a free drink?

So this year, as I arrived to the Desert Storm street party on Thursday morning, I set up my gear, made a game plan (which included not drinking until I was done working) and set out on the street to get the goods – this time a serious “reporter” who would be telling the industry stories on all the manufacturers and technology that were on display at the biggest boating event on the West Coast. Only one problem…. it was 90 degrees out and as everyone knows, Dave’s coolers are always flowing, so that lasted about 5 minutes.

With camera and beer in hand I set off to get the goods.

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For the most part, the street party was very familiar. Similar boats and vendors in the same places with large and growing crowds filling the streets – almost too familiar to shoot anything that felt different or new. That is, until Eliminator boats unveiled their new 255 Speedster with the new Ilmor MV8 570 hp engine and One-Drive Surface Drive system featuring counter-rotating propellers. The new ride was special for Eliminator’s General Sales Manager, Mark Baker, as it was built as his own personal boat. Ilmor’s Vice President, Mike Lindberg, and Eliminator’s own Jake Fraleigh were on hand with the rest of their engineering and marketing teams for the unveiling. From there, the night progressed as expected with the crowds growing, lights glowing, and me collecting cold beers along the way.

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Friday morning started off with an early morning helicopter shoot I had scheduled with a few poker run participants before the poker run started at 11:30. The weather was pretty windy and cool, but that didn’t seem to stop the participants and spectators from packing the channel. With 195 boats registered, it didn’t quite break the record, but is still surprisingly large considering the lack of promotion by media outlets and social media platforms.

What is driving that, I’m not sure but there was some grumbling among some vendors and participants. I was a little shocked to find out that Dave pulled the throttles back quite a bit this year on the entire event. Typically there is a large houseboat, and the borderline world famous “After Party”. I asked him why, and he said “I’m just taking the year off and reviewing options for the future.”

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With that said, the event overall was still well received by most participants and spectators who are lucky enough to be sheltered from that drama, including myself, who is literally tasked with drinking on the job.

As many know, Dave had a severe foot injury a couple of years ago at Lake of the Ozarks, and the long day at the street party took its toll. Sadly, Dave had to skip his own RDP raft-up at Rock Island on Friday, but we made sure to fly down and get pics. As usual, it looked like a great time.

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After an epic day of flying around chasing beautiful boats with Dave’s full-time video producer, Michael, I grabbed some lunch (and another beer) and headed back to my media headquarters — a VRBO I rented with friend and founder of none other than the famous ZipZapPower YouTube channel which brings all of the beauty and carnage of the infamous Haulover Inlet in Miami. Together we filmed from land, sea and air to cover all that Desert Storm has to offer. We are working together with RDP on a collaboration post between all three of our channels, so keep an eye out for that in the near future.


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With barely enough time to clear memory cards and charge batteries, I was off to cover the entertainment event of the weekend – the super-hyped “Too Short” concert produced by Detail Specialties. Being the premier detailing and ceramic coating shop in Lake Havasu City, Chris Griner, owner of the well known shop, spared no expense bringing the 80’s Rap icon to Lake Havasu and its nostalgic fans.

As media, I was particularly lucky to be provided with unlimited access to the show including backstage where I was thrilled to be photographing a star I grew up listening to as a teenager. It was only then that I remembered why I had to hide my cassette tapes from my mom as we all reminisced with songs about F***ing bitches and ho’s.

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The drinks were flowing all night, and per Dave’s instructions I kept up my end of the bargain. It was a good thing, too, as I would need the liquid courage to interview Too Short after the concert as Dave had asked me to.

The audience of boaters and locals must have also been enjoying their beverages, because the dancing and singing along never stopped, with some of the more brave female attendees getting on stage with Too Short at their own risk. RDP sponsored a couple of the VIP tables which provided Dave, Stacey and a few close friends with perfect seats for the rap-turned-burlesque show. The concert was definitely a huge hit with the crowd, and I imagine it will be hard for Chris to top next year if he decides to do it on the same weekend. There are already rumors of Too $hort returning and possibly E40 & Warren G coming with him!

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Saturday came all too soon after a late night concert with that many libations. Against my will, I had to wake up early for another scheduled helicopter shoot on the lake, which I performed admirably with a pretty significant hangover. Once again… all a part of my civic duties with RDP.

While shooting, it was hard to ignore the fact that the wind was still blowing fairly hard. It seemed unlikely to me at the time that they would run the shootout in that amount of wind. But as we flew over the course on the way back to the Optic Helicopters hanger, the boats were lining up in the spectator fleet and some of the participants were staging. Although it looked promising, I opted not to shoot the speed runs, which are typically hard to capture well from shore. Instead I met with a couple of my photoshoot clients from earlier that morning, to do some detail shots for upcoming feature boat articles on RDP. However, I was disappointed to learn that I missed Gary Smith claim “King of the Desert” in his 4,600 horsepower Skater, Predator III, with a confirmed pass of 184.7 mph.

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The day before the shootout, I had helped him set up his Garmin dash cameras mounted to his windshield. So it looks like that will be the only way I’m going to see his winning run. In fact, Gary and I had arranged a pinup shoot on his boat for later Friday evening, but had to cancel in order to pull the boat out of the water and fix a broken starter which almost kept him from running the shootout at all. I’m sure that makes his win all the more sweet. Congratulations to Gary Smith for his reclaimed title, as well as Miranda Jones for claiming Queen of the Desert in the Dial 911 Skater with a pass of 183.4 mph.

The windy day also did nothing to stop the crowds of boaters from filling the channel and lake for a fun day on the water. But even as I drove back from the airport, I saw a full-blown water spout forming on the lake between the island and the casino.

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The rest of the day consisted of bar hopping with friends around the island, and finishing out the night at Kokomo’s for another late night of libations and fun, without the cameras.

In the end thats the best part about Desert Storm – friends from all over the country descending on one of the most beautiful lakes in the West. And for me, I can add that it’s also working with Dave and RDP. I may not be the hard hitting reporter that I envisioned, but Dave basically hands me the keys to the weekend and simply says, “have fun and tell us about it later”. As a highly social content creator, thats about as good as it gets.

I want to thank Dave for having me out, and I also want to thank everyone throughout the weekend who bought me a drink because I was wearing RDP. It’s through you that the RDP spirit, and Desert Storm, lives on.