Fahringer Tops OMA Moose Run 41

Moose Racing/FMF Husqvarna’s Nick Fahringer gets a mid-pack start but leads when it mattered most at the 41st OMA Moose Run in Illinois.

Nick Fahringer scored a huge win at the OMA Nationals 41st Moose Run in Fenton, Illinois, on November 6. PHOTO BY JOHN GASSO.
Nick Fahringer scored a huge win at the OMA Nationals 41st Moose Run in Fenton, Illinois, on November 6. PHOTO BY JOHN GASSO.

It was a good day for Moose Racing/FMF Husqvarna’s Nick Fahringer at the 41st Moose Run at the Bike Barn in Fenton, Illinois, the home of the OMA Nationals series.

Technically the race started at the Barn, then the racers were treated to 50 miles of some of the most grueling and technical terrain that Bill Gusse could find within five miles of his home. This was the 41st installment of the iconic Moose Run, a race that competitors love to hate. The degree of difficulty is dialed up, and everyone that lines up is aware they are in for an adventure. Perhaps Pro 1 runner-up and now two-time series champion Steward Baylor Jr. said it best: “We just come out here for a good time. I really enjoy it. It’s gnarly. That’s what I grew up racing.”

A shotgun blast signaled the start, and the Pro row was off on their mission. Pro 2 Series champion Cody Barnes launched his G2/FMF/Fly Racing Yamaha to the first corner marker, nearly one quarter mile across the fresh picked corn field. At corner two, another near quarter mile away Barnes was sweeping toward the FMF holeshot line and hoping he could hold on for one more quarter mile segment. However, Adam Bonneur had other ideas, and when Bonneur and the FunMart Suzuki swept past Barnes on the outside, there was nothing Barnes could do but watch his friend take the $200 FMF prize.

One loop through the motocross track, and they were off to another field, followed by some challenging woods and the whole enchilada they call the Moose Run. The Jamie Reed tuned Moose Racing FMF Husqvarna of Nick Fahringer was mid pack, “eating roost down the corn fields.” Fahringer, the eventual race winner, said “I got the front of my bike covered in mud, and dust in my eyes; all that stuff. I picked some guys off, and once we finally got in to the woods for a stretch, it was Adam [Bonneur] and [Mike] Witkowski. I just kind of jammed it past Witkowski, because that had to happen. And then I followed Adam for a little bit. I made one little attack on him and tried not to be too aggressive. Then I had a good opening, and I took it. From there on I think I had a pretty decent lead, so I kind of like faded out. Then Stew [Baylor] started catching me and we came around the halfway point here for fuel and I crashed getting to my pit crew. I did a donut, they fueled me up and got me out in front of Stew. I just really had to put my head down and try to stay in front of him in the faster stuff. My 300 was a little bit quicker in the fields. There were some sections I knew I was just rolling in, so I just tried to be smart in those and just put it together. I built up about a two-minute lead and I just tried not to screw up too much.”

After the race, Fahringer smiled and said, “This is always my favorite race. This is what I grew up doing. Tough, technical, single track trails. It’s like you are riding to go somewhere, not just pounding laps somewhere. It’s a fun time on a dirt bike. Usually when I come to this race I am feeling a little inspired. I’ve won this race once before, and I’ve thrown it away several times.”

Steward Baylor Jr., the 2016 OMA Nationals Champion, finished second at the Moose Run. PHOTO BY JOHN GASSO.
Steward Baylor Jr., the 2016 OMA Nationals Champion, finished second at the Moose Run. PHOTO BY JOHN GASSO.

Steward Baylor Jr. was not far back from Fahringer, and he also had a good race day.

“It was fun,” said newly crowned series champion Baylor Jr. “The Moose Run is a good time no matter what. I wouldn’t consider it a race. I mean, obviously, we are going fast, because we’ve got speed in our systems. It’s not really a race. We’re never really showing our cards the entire day. We’re just trying to pick good lines and eliminate mistakes. Today, that was the biggest thing. I made too many mistakes that Nick never made. Every time I blew a corner he was gapping us.”

Baylor also noted his nemesis through the season, Mike Witkowski and the RPM Racing Maxxis KTM kept things interesting all day.

“Mike and I were together most of the day,” Baylor Jr. said. “We had a really good battle going. It was a good time. I would get behind him and he would let me go and key off of me. He was playing it smart honestly. For a young kid, usually they don’t actually do that. I’ve been there, and it’s tough to let somebody go, and Mike really rode well all day. He’s playing his cards right. I’ve seen Mike all year here in the OMA’s and I think personally it’s made him a really good rider. He’s really gone a long way. I know the battles we’ve had all year long are awesome. We were able to catch up with Nick. I don’t think he was really pushing. Every time we caught him, he was just nailing his lines, and that was the biggest thing that kept us away from him all day long. Nick never really made those mistakes that we kept making.”

Witkowski, who had a couple injuries during the season came back to the season finale event that he last rode on the short course when he was much younger.

“This is my first Moose Run since minis actually,” said Witkowski. “The first lap was really fun. We were all three out front cruising, having fun actually. Me and Stew caught Nick toward the end of this first lap and we were all together. We had a good little battle going. The second lap was a totally different story. The track was rough and beat up, and I ended up burying it, but I had fun and I’m glad I could come out. I knew the section I got stuck in would be bad and I got stuck. It wasn’t good, so at least we salvaged a podium.”

Cody Barnes scored another win in the Pro 2 class. PHOTO BY JOHN GASSO.
Cody Barnes scored another win in the Pro 2 class. PHOTO BY JOHN GASSO.

Although he missed the holeshot award, the young gun in Pro 2, Cody Barnes, topped the Pro 2 podium taking fourth place overall.

“First lap I hung with Adam [Bonneur], and Stew [Baylor] and them for a little bit,” recalled Barnes. “I tried to make smart line choices. I had a blast today. Adam definitely knows the course out here, so riding behind him was really how I was able to pull away from the other pro 2 riders and stay with those (Pro 1) guys. I had fun the first lap riding with the Pro 1 guys. We were just all riding together kind of in a big group. Adam ended up going down and Nick and Mike got on it. I just wasn’t able to keep up with them. Later on, Stew caught me, and I just let him by. I tried to hang with him, and I couldn’t hang with him. Later on, Adam caught me again, and I rode with him for a majority of the two laps.

Then Barnes crashed behind Bonneur.

“I rode by myself until the barn,” Barnes said. “At the barn, Adam had problems, and he was just pulling on as I rode through the check. I rode with him until he got stuck. After he got stuck I rode by myself again. I just tried to make good line choices and not get stuck out there. If you’re not confident with your line choice, and you’re not committed to it, that’s when you’re going to get stuck. I tried to be confident with my line choice, and it ended up paying off. I never got stuck out there. It was a good day.”

1016 Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals Series
Moose Run
Bike Barn
Fenton, Illinois
Results: November 6, s016

Pro 1
1. Nick Fahringer-Hus
2. Steward Baylor-KTM
3. Mike Witkowski-KTM
4. Mark Heresco-KTM
5. Adam Bonneur-Suzuki

Pro 2
1. Cody Barnes-Yam
2. Shane Klimek-Suz
3. Kyleer Vance-Hus
4. Duell Murphy-Suz
5. Darren Carlson-KTM