Story and photos by John Gasso
Bryan Hulsey captured his first OMA Nationals victory of the 2009 season at the Moose Run, the final event of the series. Muddy conditions made for a tough day at the Bike Barn.
The Moose Run has a reputation for being a tough race, and that reputation remains intact after the 2009 installation of the classic event at the Bike Barn near Morrison, Illinois. Considerable rain during the past two weeks turned the normally difficult peat soil to a quagmire. After the first lap of racing it seemed like all of the racers were wearing black gear and riding black machines. The pro class also missed a turn early in the event, allowing the riders to experience approximately seven miles of the Sunday motorcycle course on their first lap. With a first lap time of over thirty six minutes, this was going to be an interesting day. Due to a course marking error this event would essentially be two races running together on the course, with the pros doing a restart upon their return from the motorcycle course. Meanwhile A class riders Kyle Turnis and Josh Bergfeld found themselves on fresh trails. Turnis recalled thinking to himself “I’m either in first overall or I’m really lost.” As it turns out, his first thought was correct. Turnis ultimately took the overall win for the non pro segment of the race, completing eleven laps of the muck and mire aboard his Sindt Motorsports GT Thunder Honda in one hour, forty four minutes, and sixteen seconds. Second place went to the only other rider to complete eleven laps, Plus Thirty class rider Tillman McDaniel aboard a Yamaha. The C class Honda of Blake Hynous finished third.
The bone stock Suzuki 400 of privateer Jason Ochke took the second place Pro position at the 2009 running of the Moose Run near Morrison, Illinois.
Bryan Hulsey captured the pro win aboard his Moose Racing Dirtworks Motorsports Honda, completing his event with nine laps in one hour, forty six minutes, and seven seconds. Jason Ochke took second place aboard a “bone stock Suzuki 400,” marking his first visit to the OMA Nationals pro class. And John Pitts took home third place with his Duncan Racing Rekluse Honda, completing seven laps of misery before calling it quits at one hour and thirty two minutes. Series champion Kyle Martin missed out on all but the start of the race with a machine that suffered a mechanical failure after the third turn. The Dirtworks Motorsports Rekluse Honda tossed a front sprocket and damaged the shifter, ending the day for Martin. “It ended short for me,” said Martin. “It was one hundred percent my fault. All my sponsors did a good job. All their stuff worked great. It just came down to me making a small mistake; not having something torqued. It came out and ruined my day, but it didn’t affect the championship. I still got that, so that was good. That is the only positive out of the day. It was running well. I was able to pass those guys in the field, then put a little gap on them. I was thinking, man, if it’s going to be like this all day it’s going to be a good day. By the looks of everyone else’s machines it was pretty brutal out there with the mud, so I’m not envious of what they’re dealing with right now.
John Pitts had a rough day at the Moose Run. The Missouri racer opted to not take his final lap of the Moose Run due to water in his boots, among other difficulties associated with the wet and muddy conditions.
Hulsey was pleased with his finish, saying “it’s the first win, so I’ll take it, even in conditions like this.” The Missouri racer said “it was a muddy one out there. The Powermadd gauntlets were definitely the way to go today. And, at the last minute, I threw on a Moose expedition jacket, and it kept me dry and warm. That was the only way to go today in a race like this.” After the pro line had their restart Hulsey seemed determined to head to the front. “I got stuck on the first lap and just started plugging away after that,” he recalled. “Apparently John (Pitts) was having troubles by the end of the race. I started closing back in on him and I got by him. I think we rode together for a little while, then he got stuck again and I coasted to a win after that. The new Avenger Vee Rubber tire worked phenomenal today.” Hulsey was all smiles at the podium interview, recalling their first lap tour of the neighborhood. “We spent about the first half hour just exploring your farm and the neighbors,” he told promoter Bill Gusse. “We went for a joy ride for a while, just out having some fun getting wet. There was so much water out there that we were all just soaked to the bone. We were wondering why no one was coming up behind us, but there was still arrows, so we kept going.”
Moose Run pro podium. left to right second place Jason Ochke, winner Bryan Hulsey, and third place John Pitts.
Second place in the pro ranks was local privateer Jason Ochke aboard a Suzuki 400. Ochke runs the local MXC series and was given the opportunity to run pro class in the Moose Run. He said “a friend of mine paid for my race today. She wanted me to have an opportunity to get on that front line and have the experience. It was a great one. I hope to do it again next year.” Ochke had an interesting experience at his first OMA nationals as a pro. “First off, when we got on the wrong course and everything, seven miles down the road it was rather dry and good,” he said. “But, once we got back in there and Bill was nice enough to restart us and let us go again, we found out that the course was a bit different. Not bad, just muddy, wet, the normal peat moss out here. Other than that it was good. I enjoyed it. It was an honor for me to be on the front line with some of the best riders in the country and to be able to stick with them a little bit. Those are the nicest group of guys up on that front line that I’ve ever ridden with, and I learned a lot from them in just one day. Hopefully I can continue to learn and stay on that front line and just get a little better.”
Kyle Turnis found the correct course markers at the Moose Run and came away with first place overall in the non-pro segment of the event after running eleven laps of the wet and muddy race course.
John Pitts was still trying to get warm after taking third place aboard his Moose Racing EBC brakes Honda. The friendly racer from Missouri said “the last three laps the track just kept deteriorating. I got stuck and everyone got around me. It seemed like every lap it kept getting worse.” Pitts chose to not take his eighth lap at one hour, thirty two minutes, and four seconds, saying “my boot is full of water and I was just basically done. I’m not going to make up ground because each lap I keep pushing it further in the woods, so I might as well just call it a day.”
The Country Sports Racing Honda of Rob Weis blasted through a cornfield outside Fenton, Illinois at the 2009 Moose Run. Weis captured second place in the A class.
The A class side of the event was good for Kyle Turnis. The Turnis ATV EVS Sports Honda rider said “the first lap things got kind of confusing. We didn’t really know where we were going. Me and Josh Bergfeld got going and we didn’t see any tracks on the track, and we were like, where are we going.” After sorting out their directions, Turnis put in a strong race to take the A Class victory. Turnis said “my goal was to keep moving. I didn’t get stuck at all; only killed it once. I thought my motor was coming apart, but it turns out my head pipe just came loose, so I got lucky. It was a pretty fun day; a fun track.” Tilman McDaniel also did well, taking second place in the non-pro portion of the program with eleven laps. The Yamaha privateer said “we got around the corner just a little bit there and I was like, what’s going on. I seen you guys coming over there and crossing it up and making it right. I was like, oh boy, I wonder how this is going to come out. I just want to thank you for the heads up on picking the right lines, ‘cause that’s what it took today.”
The 2009 OMA Nationals Season came to a close with this installment of the venerable Moose Run. Many muddy machines competed in an event that had some interesting twist and turns along the way to the conclusion. After a long day of competition in grueling conditions they still kept saying “it was fun.” This appears to be the nature of a true offroad racer. Bill Gusse threw everything at them and the racers had fun while collecting another unique OMA Nationals experience. Ten rounds are in the books and Kyle Martin emerged with his first OMA Nationals Series championship. It was a long, hard road to the Moose Run, and a large group of ATV racers will tell you that had a great time getting here. Check out www.omanationals.com for information about the series along with links to information on the OMA Nationals Winter Series. This is offroad racing
Moose Run Pro Podium
1 Hulsey, Bryan Honda
2 Ochkie, Jason Suzuki
3 Pitts, John Honda
Moose Run Top Five
1 Turnis, Kyle A ATV Honda
2 McDaniel, Tilman Plus 30 Yamaha
3 Hynous, Blake C ATV Honda
4 Weis, Rob, A ATV Honda
5 Smith, Cody, A ATV Honda