Photos and Story by John Gasso
The Parts Unlimited OMA Nationals series kicked off their 2009 season with the Maxxis Hangman XC on Easter weekend just outside Nashville, Tennessee. Texan Shawn Hess hung in for ten laps of hard fought battles to capture his first OMA Nationals win. The Hess Motorsports Maxxis Tires Honda was not in the lead for most of the race, but a mechanical failure on the Dirtworks Honda of returning 2008 Series Champion Bryan Hulsey helped clear the way for Hess to take home the victory. Kyle Martin also had his Dirtworks Motorsports Honda in the thick of the battle for first, but the Winona, Missouri racer could not hold off the charge by Hess and would have to settle for second place. Florida racer Taylor Kiser rounded out the all Maxxis podium with his Houser Racing Hyper Wheels Yamaha. Craig Reed and Shane Gaunt rounded out the top five aboard Hondas.
Kyle Martin launched his Dirtworks Motorsports Martin Plumbing Honda in to the lead, and then spent a number of laps battling with Bryan Hulsey and Taylor Kiser for the lead. A tie rod end failure sidelined Hulsey’s Duncan Racing Honda just three laps from the finish. The pressure was off from Hulsey, but two more fast racers were as intent on the lead as Martin. “I had a real good day,” said Martin. “I started with the holeshot, the best way to start a race. A track like this, though, with it being muddy out there, you really don’t know what’s going to happen, especially when lappers come in to play. We had a lot of good battling. The OMA Champ Bryan Hulsey was running up front for quite a while until he had a mechanical issue, so that was fun. Taylor Kiser was running real strong, and I didn’t even know Shawn (Hess) was that close behind me. We hit a lapper, and it happened to be Shawn’s Dad. We got through that deal, but Shawn was able to pass me clean out there in the woods when we came to a section and lappers came in to a little bit of play. He put a good pass, rode a smart race, and went through the checker with me and Kiser right on him.”
According to Kiser, “It was a lot of fun.” He said “coming here, you know, there’ no pressure or anything, just people out to have a good time. The track was good. It was a little wet there to begin, but it was a pretty good track. I really enjoyed it. We got to mix it up a little bit. I got to lead a couple times, just kept making little bobbles, running in to lappers, whatever it may be. It just didn’t work out for me in the end. It just wasn’t my day.” The Fasst Powermadd Yamaha racer said “I just didn’t have luck on my side. Eventually I got the lead going in to the white flag and got hung up with a lapper and allowed everybody to get around on the last lap. I just kind of put my head down and came in a close third.”
Race winner Shawn Hess managed to keep his Elka Suspension Tucker Rocky Honda in close contact with the leaders and capitalized on some late race traffic that landed him at the front of the pack on the lap that really matters. Hess said the track was “awesome.” His version of the race is very similar to the others, except he ended up in the lead at the end. “We had some great battlin’ goin’ on,” he recalled. “To be honest with you, there for a while I didn’t even know where I was runnin’. I just knew to put my head down and ran strong for the checker. I really thought Taylor Kiser had gotten out there and got away with it. I just started riding hard, and the next thing I know we come through in third. I just kept my head down and picked off second, and I happened to be in first coming through the checker. It was just awesome.”
The Parts Unlimited OMA Nationals Series has one in the books for 2009 with co-sanctioning this round courtesy of the Kentucky Off Road Harescrambles Series. A number of new faces have joined the series along with the return of many previous season racers. This race begins another ten round season that promises to be just as exciting as previous years, with Bill Gusse and his team putting on a racing program that maintains a level of difficulty that is not common in the industry. The Maxxis Hangman XC was an exciting race to watch and, according to the racers, it was an exciting race to compete in. Check out omanationals.com for more information on the series that keeps the off road in off road racing.
Maxxis Hangman XC Pro Top Five
1.Shawn Hess Honda
2.Kyle Martin Honda
3.Taylor Kiser Yamaha
4.Craig Reed Honda
5.Shane Gaunt Honda