OSD Austin stood up two vehicles for the 2019 Texas Gambler 500 taking place around Splendora, Texas on March 8th through the 10th. The Gambler is a national and local series of on-and-off road events with “unlikely off-road vehicles.” That can mean everything from broken down hunks, to offroad Miatas, Mercedes SUVs, Vans, and Mazdas! You see everything. There are few rules, except to have fun and “send it” – pedal to the metal on your Gambler and damn the consequences (besides safety, that is)!

In the weeks leading up to the event, several Army, Navy, and Marine veterans worked on two OSD entry vehicles for the event, a 2007 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor known as the “Warthog”, and a 1991 Jeep Truck “The Eliminator.” They lifted them, put on tires, bumpers, skid plates, and winches, mounted gas cans, jacks and more. They logged some serious hours getting these vehicles Gambler ready.

On March 8th, the two OSD vehicles and 4 veterans drove from Austin to the Creekside Offroad Ranch and got registered with a bunch of really nice and welcoming organizers. They set up camp and had a few hours of preparation and social hours with their Gambler neighbors. There were over 80 teams/cars entered including a home-made convertible with a huge airfoil wing, a lifted mud-Miata, a VW bug with a HUGE beetle horn, and much more. They had a great evening by the campfire with new friends.

Saturday with another Jeep JKU and Army veteran joining and after a briefing on the 53 waypoints, they departed the park for a long day of on and off-road adventures!

OSD Austin Chapter Leader Charlie Browning explained, “We wove in and out of parks, through sugar sand, deep rutted mud, by cow-filled pastures, oil rigs, dead ends, rocky pits, and pine forests.  We stopped for gas and snacks but kept on finding our GPS waypoints and checking them off all day and into the evening. Our Jeep truck did get stuck on a particularly nasty turn with at least an 8-foot change in elevation, but thankfully our Jeep JKU chase vehicle winched it out without too much trouble. The Crown Vic Warthog powered through the whole course with its big V8 and new off-road tires, just raw power and traction.”

The OSD crew had hit 41 waypoints and covered more than 400 miles by 9 PM on Saturday. They quickly realized that we were still over 2 hours away from camp. So, they opted to have a great local Mexican dinner and head back, hoping that they weren’t the only ones skipping out on getting all 53 points. In the end, only 3 teams completed all 53 and it took them all the way over the Louisiana state line and almost 600 miles!

Charlie said, “We were exhausted and our butts were flat after all day driving, but we had time for a beer and some laughs before hitting the hay in our tents.”

Sunday was the in-park “obstacle” course. Participants lined up and slammed their cars through the park’s miles of roads with sand, mud, ruts, and ponds.  There was even an 8-foot tall cement ramp. At first, the ramp was used for a photo opportunity with cars posing for pictures. Of course, someone had to up the game and an off-road Lexus took it at full speed and launched into the air. Somehow they managed to land perfectly, Dukes of Hazard style. Of course, not to be outdone, an F350 then took on the ramp leaving it’s transmission in pieces and being winched off and trailered home to a junk pile. You definitely can see why the theme of the weekend was “ABG – Always Be Gamblin.” These crazy guys sent it!

Thankfully the OSD Vic and the Jeep Truck powered through all day, between faster rally-like roads, to sugar sand pits, mud ruts, and shenanigans. Ultimately, the OSD crew had an awesome time with a lot of laughs. Everyone got the 2019 Gambler poker chip for completion and a few raffle items too. OSD was also invited up on stage to tell everyone about our mission and chapters, inviting new members and volunteers to join. OSD Austin members were able to give out stickers and answered questions about veterans and OSD.

Charlie Browning said, “The 2019 Texas Gambler 500 was a great event for our Austin veterans. We had a fantastic time, met some great new friends, and hopefully established some connections for the next Gambler! We hope to see even more folks out there the next time!!”

To learn more about OSD events happening in Chapters across Texas, please check out our Texas Region Facebook page.

OSD’s local chapters are the backbone of our community engagement and outreach. Chapters are made up of groups of active duty members, veterans, family members and civilian supporters devoted to giving back at the community level. OSD chapters host various social, professional, and service related events each month. Social events allow members the chance to get to know one another, build meaningful relationships, and have fun as a team. The camaraderie built through these events create bonds which last a lifetime and are proven as a positive impact on mental health.

To learn more about how OSD’s globally-recognized programs and services are making an impact on the lives of members in our military community, visit https://weareosd.org/news/. To learn how you can make an impact through our programs and service, visit https://weareosd.org/get-involved/.