You’ll probably never get to drive a race car with Jeff Gordon or have Usain Bolt coach you for your local track & field meet, but you can get some lessons from nine-time GNCC champion Bill Ballance.
Yamaha Racing is presenting the 2012 GNCC University at the Snowshoe Mountain Resort from June 20-22, 2012. Scheduled just before the eighth round of the GNCC off-road racing series, the GNCC University will be led by the “Dean of ATVs,” Bill Ballance, and “Dean of Motorcycles,” Randy Hawkins. Tuition (including room and board) for the two-day school is $428 per student.
Ballance will lead the group of Yamaha Racing ATV instructors including Taylor Kiser, who is currently second in points in the GNCC’s XC1 pro class, 2011 XC2 champ Walker Fowler, eight-time GNCC Women’s Champion Traci Cecco and Johnny Gallagher, who is currently running 10th in the XC-1 class.
Now that we’re a few races into the 2012 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series, the standings and championship races are starting to take shape. Yamaha is fielding a particularly strong team this year and its Pro GNCC racers Taylor Kiser, Walker Fowler and Traci Cecco, along with Ballance Racing boss Bill Ballance, offered up some thoughts on the season so far.
Bill Ballance Question: You’re widely known as the best off-road ATV racer of all time, and while you haven’t announced any plans to officially retire from racing, you’re transitioning more into a team management role – tell us about Ballance Racing and how you approach your new job.
The first priority is the race team. Our team provides full race support to Taylor Kiser and Walker Fowler in the GNCC race circuit. We also provide some support to Thomas Brown on the MX side.
The second side to Ballance Racing is aftermarket sales and support. We sell all of the race products from companies that sponsor our race program. Also, we build complete race quads.
Ballance Racing started as me competing and winning championships and has transitioned into a program that supports both riders and sponsors on and off the track.
My role as team manager includes many responsibilities and those change from day to day. I spend numerous days testing on the track, which requires me to do lots of riding – this being my favorite part! Other days my time is filled by taking orders from customers, building shocks, setting up race quads, talking to sponsors, and keeping up with what the guys are doing and needing. A big part of my job is developing and testing for companies like Lone Star, Ohlins, Maxxis, and Moto-Xperts. I even build and fine tune maps for ECUs.
The transition has been difficult in some ways. When we are at the races and the guys line up on the starting line, it is hard for me not to be a part of that. However, in some ways it has been pretty easy because of the attention to detail that I give to every working part of the race bike is natural to me. I do this just the same way I did with my own race quad. I try to give the guys the equipment they need and the knowledge I have gained over the years. I want to see them win, and I strive for nothing less.
Yamaha’s ATV Race Teams have been claiming podiums this season at the nation’s top racing series from East to West. With returning champions and strong challengers on blue, Yamaha riders have seen success in Grand National Cross Country (GNCC), QuadX and AMA ATV Motocross Championship racing and are poised to capture titles in motocross and cross country action.
“We have a great group of racers who are doing spectacular things on the tracks and trails aboard their YFZ450Rs and YFZ450Xs,” says Donnie Luce, Yamaha ATV/Off-Road racing coordinator. “While there are fewer factory programs this year, the competition is still extremely tough – our racers are showing their talents and stamina pushing harder and faster. Yamaha is deeply ingrained in ATV racing, and we’re excited to see how the rest of the 2011 season plays out.”
Here’s a look at Yamaha’s 2011 ATV team through mid-August:
Thomas Brown battled with some of the world’s top motocross racers in the AMA ATV Motocross Championship series finishing a personal best fourth place overall for the year. After a rough start, Brown rose in the ranks capturing three second place podium finishes.
“Thomas has risen through the AMA ATV ranks, and he’s proved he is a rider to be reckoned with in this series,” Luce said.