Contrary to popular belief, Jerry Bernardo’s FAHQ Racing has evaded capture, eluded death and generally avoided a DNF in life.
By Jerry Bernardo and Mark Kariya
Images by Mark Kariya and Jerry Bernardo.
One quiet New England morning, the smell of two-stroke fumes wafted across my nostrils as the kid down the street wheelied—helmet-less—by my open apartment window, yanking me from the bowels of a sweet dream. It wasn’t the sound that affected my coma-like unconsciousness—it was that smell, that fragrance one can only ingest when they are within a restraining order’s distance of a revving two-stroke dirt bike.
From that moment on, I was infected with the venom one can only obtain with throttle in hand.
In 1986 I was an asshole. Some may chime in: “You still are!” That may very well be true, but when you have a Massachusetts driver’s license you pretty much don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks, says or does. I guess [back then] I was an asshole because I drank too much and acted like a mental patient guided by what seemed like far fewer than 30 years of life lessons, most of which were obscured by “ingested delicacies”—and I do NOT mean shit from the Food Channel!
While I was trying not to die, my friends and I raced dirt bikes in the New England Trail Rider Association’s hare scramble series. Naturally, we caused a fuss where ever we happened to pit. Rubbing our scent in the faces of the common folk was a good laugh for the boys from Bellingham, Massachusetts, and if we didn’t crash or shear off a clutch cover in the brutal rock gardens during a race, we sometimes even limped away with a trophy or two. (Editor’s note: JB has been sober for the past 29 years.)
Earning my daily crust as a sign painter, I began to paint helmets and design T-shirts. The name FAHQ Racing fit in well with our “in-your-face” style and the T-shirts followed suit. “Twist that fucking thing you pussy!,” “Hot bitches and bean oil” and the extremely popular John Wayne with a Mohawk design, ”More whiskey and fresh bikes for my men” were all instant classics, their limited-edition status making them more desirable whether you were in the club or not.
This nonsense carried on for quite a while and, as life tends to pull you along with it, I, Jerry B, one day made the move out of New England and FAHQ followed.
FAHQ club member and international moto journalist Mark Kariya explains: “When he made the move to Australia in 2009, being half a world away from his roots and trying to make a living led to a slightly dormant time for FAHQ, though he was still its primary ambassador and attracted a new audience in Oz.
“A few years ago, though, one Tom Leacu—a dirt bike rider from Massachusetts who’d never met Bernardo but discovered the T-shirts and stickers—reached out electronically to inquire about getting the FAHQ product line rolling again.
“Bernardo agreed, they put their heads and money together, and before long a new line of FAHQ shirts and stickers emerged.”
FAHQ was back.
This year (2016) marked the 30th anniversary of the club’s founding and JB realized he was only a plane ticket away from getting the band back together.
Greedily digging into his pet project of an epic reunion, Jerry locked onto it with the zest of a speed freak trying to vacuum a shag rug with a dirty toothbrush. “The main thing was obtaining a piece of land to ride on, which is pretty tough nowadays in Massachusetts,” Bernardo begins. “Try to pull that all off from your office 10,000 miles away. It’s pretty annoying to not have any proper boots on the ground to help.”
Fellow “Masshole” and off-road rider Keith Goyette offered to let the club use his 150-acre property for the blowout, instantly igniting the flare. JB furiously pecked away at his trusty iMac designing a shirt, creating hype and even made a few fuckers cry by slotting the 30th into the category of an invitation-only function. “I got riders like ISDE vet Luke McNeil who have 30 years into this club; some guys liked a few posts on social media and all of a sudden they imagine themselves lined up and in the mix? Yeah, I don’t think so!” Jerry laughs.
The results of the 30th Anniversary FAHQ Racing Reunion Ride spoke volumes, Kariya explains, having made the cut with his 29-year member pin: “Most of the 65 select attendees came from around New England, of course, with Bernardo (and family) flying in from Down Under. Everyone enjoyed a full day of seeing old friends, making new ones, riding a typically technical and gnarly New England trail loop about seven kilometers long (plus doing a fun race on it in the middle of the day with unusual rules to make it different, in keeping with the FAHQ way), enjoying a live concert by punk rock band Pajama Slave Dancers and feasting on a catered pig roast.”
The attendees praised the event and could not brag about it all fast enough on social media; it was definitely one for the history books.
“I did most of the prep work myself, but once I landed in Boston, Tommy Norton jumped in and took over trail boss duties and a lot of the on-location set up and orchestration,” Jerry shares. (In 1990 Norton became the only man to ever win the infamous Blackwater 100 overall on a 125cc machine, all under the banner of FAHQ Racing.)
Bernardo adds, “You may have seen a photo of a cow with FAHQ spray painted on its side. The truth is we had nothing to do with it. The land owner, Keith, was responsible for laying the graffiti on his own livestock, not us.”
Sooner or later they all fall under the spell of the “good team with a bad name”—Massachusetts infamous dirt bike club, FAHQ Racing.