Michael “Balls” Farabaugh — RIP
The Easyriders family endured a great loss with the passing of one of our ace photographers, Michael “Balls” Farabaugh. He had just returned from Daytona and his son Ryan said that he was cleaning up around the house yesterday, went to bed and just didn’t wake up in the morning.
Michael is survived by his wife Debby, and his son Ryan, a sister, a brother and a granddaughter. Michael and Debbie have spent over 50 years together. For Michael and and Debby, it was always about the ride, and the couple loved exploring of our wonderful country.
In 1978 Michael became the first Director of ABATE of Indiana. He, along with the leaders and members of ABATE founded the “Bean Blossom Boogie” as a membership recruiting tool. It quickly became one of the greatest motorcycle parties in the country. ABATE of Indiana, of their website describes him as “a very charismatic and insightful leader. Balls made us look and plan far ahead. He was a very effective communicator with the membership as well as legislators.”
“With Balls’ experience and help from the AMA, we learned how to approach politicians effectively. How to get the news media involved to raise awareness. We learned to think like the enemies of motorcycling so we could defeat their efforts to put us off the road.”
Michael was a founder and past President of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, and president Kirk Willard noted his passing, saying, “‘Balls’ was arguably the driving force behind much of the success the motorcyclists rights movement has enjoyed. Balls was one of the pioneers of rider education in Indiana and his influence carried into many states and has certainly resulted in saving thousands of lives. “Balls” had an impact on motorcycling nationally and internationally. “Balls” actually founded the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF). His ideas and inspirational character motivated many of the leaders in the motorcycling community, and that continues as a lasting legacy. Indeed, riders around the world owe a debt to Michael “Balls” Farabaugh.
Michael was the 2002 recipient of the AMA’s Hall of Fame award and the Sturgis Hall of Fame. He and Debbie were graduates of the first Motorcycle Safety Foundation Chief Instructor Program. They taught motorcycle riding survival skills to thousands of riders and he lobbied many state legislatures into giving publically funded rider training parity with driver education in obtaining vehicle operator licenses.
Michael was also the head of Lucas Oil’s Motorcycle Product Division, Forrest Lucas, noted upon his appointment to the company, ”Aside from all those qualifications, he and his wife have ridden over a million miles on motorcycles using Lucas Oil and other lubricants. If you want a textbook example of a person who’s a perfect fit for heading up the Lucas Oil Motorcycle Division, Michael Farabaugh is the man.”
This tribute would not be complete without talking about his contribution to Easyriders magazine. “Balls”, as he was known to us was a monster photographer, contributing hundreds of outstanding bike features, and photographing motorcycle events on our behalf for 40 years. He will be sorely missed. Please keep Balls’ family in your heart today.
There will be a memorial service at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 25, at Bond-Mitchell Funeral Home, 1682 State Road 135 North, Nashville, Indiana. There will be a gathering of family and friends two hours prior to the service. A pitch-in celebration will take place after the service at the Farabaugh residence.
If friends so desire, Memorial Contributions may be made to Riley Hospital for Children, 705 Riley Hospital Drive, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202.