Whibley endures the storm for second OMA win

Article by John Gasso

Waukon, Iowa is a favorite track of many of the OMA Nationals regulars including champion Jimmy Jarrett. Unfortunately the weather on race day became something that people will be talking about for a long time. Jarrett started his day with an electric pole crashing in to his room. Shortly after the power line hit the ground at our hotel there was a crash that sounded like a truck hit the building. The massive overnight rainfall had loosened the hillside to the point of release, and it came crashing in through the back wall of the room occupied by Monty Gusse. Things were not looking good. Our seven mile trip to the track was an exercise in negotiating through mudslides and downed trees. High water on both sides of the road, a chicken coop floating down the river, and a horse stranded in chest high water made the short trip full of surprises. Our four wheel drive truck barely negotiated a downed tree across the road. The same tree kept Jarrett and Gusse from following the normal route, and they were forced to take a one and a half hour detour up through Minnesota to reach the track.

The race started on time under what appeared to be clear skies and a beautiful afternoon. After just over one hour of racing we would experience another round of the sky falling in with a continuous downpour that would ultimately create what Aaron Wegner called “definitely one of the gnarliest races I’ve ever run.” He recalled “the water flowing, you know, some of the creeks got going so fast they’d almost pull you off the bike when you crossed them.” Wegner was able put his Fastway Pro Moto Billet Sidi Yamaha on point to capture the Vemar hole shot award. Things were looking good for the racer from Traverse City, Michigan until they reached some long field sections. According to Wegner “it didn’t take long for guys to start passing. You know, the guys on the four strokes had all that power going across the fields and stuff.” He battled throughout the race with Adam Bonneur, Nick Fahringer, and Shane Klimek. Fahringer was able to get his Moose Racing Smith Goggles Husaberg clear of the group later in the race, and finished nine laps in just over two hours and twenty seven minutes to take a well deserved fourth place. Wegner ended his day in sixth place behind the Storm Lake Honda of Cooper Bailey. Bonneur and Klimek experienced some trouble late in the race. The Fastway Pro Moto Billet Yamaha of Bonneur was credited with ninth place while Klimek would take his privateer Yamaha home with tenth place.

New Zealander Paul Whibley has adapted well to the OMA Nationals course structure. The friendly and approachable pro kept his FMF Moose Racing Team Suzuki out front for much of this race. He was able to complete ten laps in two hours, nineteen minutes and eight seconds to collect his second consecutive OMA win. Fellow Team FMF Suzuki racer and defending OMA Nationals champion Jimmy Jarrett took second place under the pouring rain. The Valli Motorsports Yamaha of Brian Garrahan was the final racer to complete ten laps of the monsoon in Iowa. After two hours and thirty six minutes of battle Garrahan took the checkers inside the old barn that provided some shelter for the scoring crew.

Shannon Kenworthy was one of the few people left in the pits after the race conclusion. The Forty B Class winner from Jefferson City, Missouri had this recollection of the late stages of the race. “I got to the bottom of the creek over the hill there. I came back around and I told them I don’t think there was no way to go back through the creek again. They said well just go another lap, so I go to the bottom of the hill down there and Steve Leivan’s bike, the only thing showing was his handlebars. Ten of us were waist deep in it trying to pull his bike out. We got his bike out and rode around.” The MSR Yamaha of Kenworthy crossed the line for his fourth lap after two hours and forty five minutes.

Rochester, Minnesota rider Andrew Goldammer managed five laps of the course he said was “the wettest race I’ve done since 02.” His Cycle City Smith Honda CR250 finished after two hours and forty two minutes taking third place in 30-39 A. Meanwhile, self proclaimed “Fossil Class” rider Brett Grossman made the following observations regarding this event where he finished third in the fifty plus class. The South St. Paul Hitching Post Yamaha YZ250 racer completed four laps in one hour and fifty five minutes. “You know, the OMA races are so much fun. They’re always challenging. It’s good people and good comradery. Just a lot of fun to come down here, even when the weather isn’t as pleasant as we’d like to see it. It’s always exciting.”

Bill Gusse does not believe in cancelling an event. A large number of racers traveled long distances to be at this race, and he was not about to let them down. The racing would go on after some modifications to the trail were made to accommodate some issues created by the rainfall. Unfortunately some of the nasty, gnarly hill climbs and downhill sections had to be removed, but the track remained a challenge. This is the OMA Nationals series, and it was a race worthy of the reputation.


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