THE BIRTH OF RAPTOR TAKEOVER
By Collins Harper
It all started back in April of 2017, when I bought my 2012 Ford F-150 Raptor with 52k miles without a scratch on it or any evidence it ever having played in the dirt. I was in love. Immediately after the 3.5 hour drive home, I took it down a back country dirt road in my home state of South Carolina. I was hooked as soon as the front tires hit the dirt and my passion for off-roading the Raptor has been boiling deep inside of me ever since.
Fast forwarding a tad to November 2017, a fellow Raptor owner and I went to Durhamtown Off Road Resort and ran their Turbo Track. Words cannot explain how much fun this was. We probably lapped the Turbo Track about 60 times, came home and put pictures up on good ole Facebook. It didn’t take long and a bunch of people expressed interest in coming to Durhamtown. So in March 2018, I coordinated a little get together (nothing "official"). We had a whopping fourteen trucks show up. Everyone had an absolute blast.
After the unofficial get together, I felt this was something I wanted to share with more people. I thought long and hard about a cool name for the events. BOOM! Raptor Takeover! So I started the company forming the LLC and all. Lord, I was diving deep. I posted the event in June for our first official Raptor Takeover event in October of 2018! Thirty trucks registered and we had one extra truck show up. What a crazy time! Afterwards, we posted the pictures and videos from the event. Excitement was brewing faster even faster with, people wanting to come to the next one. I was blown away by how many people were interested. I never expected this to grow the way it has this fast.
As Raptor Takeover was starting to get a name for itself for putting on well-organized, fun, and safe events, I was contacted by Michael Burchnell. Michael was organizing a small run at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park with his Maryland Raptor Group and wanted to discuss how to gain more traction with registration. We ultimately teamed up for Rausch Creek and ended up with 33 trucks at the event. I set out on the long 10.5 hour drive up to Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon, but had a hiccup with my truck that almost made me turn around. I had all the stuff for the event (shirts, bags, placards, etc.). It was a nightmare in the making. Luckily, I was able to fix the issue and get back on the road. I arrived at our hotel near Rausch Creek at midnight, finished packing the event bags with Michael, and then woke up at 6 am on Sunday to get ready for the event. Six inches of snow covered the ground, it was freezing cold, and there was mud everywhere after one lap. That didn’t stop us! Most participants ran about 30 laps each around the track. Trucks were completely covered in dirt and mud. After calling it a day, I headed out on my 10.5 hour drive home. As I pondered the event during the drive, I realized I needed help with how quickly the momentum for Raptor Takeover was building.
I decided to contact Michael and invite him to join Raptor Takeover as an ambassador. He said yes faster than I could blink. I also contacted Jim Howard, a good friend who owns a Raptor as well and had participated in the unofficial March 2018 event and the first official event at Durhamtown. He jumped on board as well. I had my team and was ready to go!
Now we have a website, company email addresses, and are planning and events for 2019 and beyond. We decided to open a Club side of Raptor Takeover called RTO Club. This is for the club runs out in Utah and surrounding states in the Western U.S. This came together after Paul Haskew expressed interest in coming on board to organize runs in the Pacific Northwest. Let me say one thing, this was terrifying for two reasons. First, I have never been out in the Pacific Northwest region. Second, I did not know this Paul Haskew guy! But, we jumped on the phone, talked for hours about our expectations, and found we were both on the same page. He was an offroad guy through and through.
Our Main Event is Durhamtown. In March of this year, we had 66 trucks present, vendor booths, two tracks, a charity raffle, and a food truck at the track. It felt like we had finally made something that people loved and truly enjoyed. People came from all over including New Mexico, Wisconsin, New York, Florida and numerous states in between. It was a massive success. We raised $4,200 for St Jude’s Charity and everyone left with smiling faces.
Our July 2019 event at Rausch Creek has completely sold out. We have our first RTO Club run in June followed by a family day at the beach in North Carolina at the end of the month. Then we have Rausch Creek in July, another RTO Club run in Utah this August, Silver Lake Dunes in Michigan in August, Durhamtown in October, and Rausch tentatively in November.
We initially planned to just have Durhamtown and Rausch Creek events twice this year for a total of four events in 2019. But now we have 8 total events planned across the U.S. in five states: Utah, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. I have no idea where all of this will lead, but it’s a heck of a ride. 2020 Is looking to be one even crazier with approximately ten events already in the works.