Taking a break from the Grand National Cross Country Series, Walker Fowler picked up a win in the season opener of the 2013 AMA MAXC Racing Series in Canaan, Ind. at Monster Mountain XC.
Fourteen Pro AA ATV racers lined up to do battle at Monster Mountain. Among the lineup were many of the top ATV racers in the country, including Fowler, 2012 MAXC reigning Pro AA ATV Champion Ryan Lane, Kevin Cunningham, Taylor Kiser, Johnny Gallagher, Mike Pflum and Jay Humphrey.
Despite the lead changing hands many times throughout the seven-lap race, it was Am-Pro Yamaha’s #2 Fowler who crossed the finish in first aboard his Yamaha YFZ450R ATV. Fowler had a mid-pack start and made his way up from fifth place to first to earn the win.
“The track as awesome the parking lot was the muddiest spot except the creek bed we ran, it was pretty bad,” says Fowler. “You just had to play it smart but we had to submarine it a little bit and I think the motor is pretty much toast, but I had a blast doing it!”
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 has revealed its 2012 ATV race team, with racers competing in the top motocross and cross-country series in the country. Also, Yamaha is also expanding its national trackside assistance program with support at all AMA ATV MX National Championship series events.
“No one can match Yamaha’s support of the sport combining a top racing program, event and track-side support programs and the most comprehensive line of sport ATVs,” says Steve Nessl, Yamaha’s ATV/SxS group marketing manager. “This is an exciting time for Yamaha racing as we look forward to the 2012 season with a stellar team and the most high-performance and consistent race quad in the YFZ450R.”
Yamaha’s Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) team will again be led by ATV racing legend Bill Ballance as team owner and manager of Ballance Racing. Taylor Kiser, who took third overall in the 2011 XC-1 Pro class, is back on blue again for 2012 and looking to build momentum. Walker Fowler, the 2011 AMA ATV Racer of the Year and XC-2 Pro Am champ, will move up to join Kiser in the XC-1 Pro class for 2012.
Typically the season finale, this year’s Ironman landed two weeks before the final round of 2011 coming up at Loretta Lynn’s in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, which was rescheduled to Nov. 5. Traci Cecco took her eighth win of the year in the Women’s class adding to her record eighth series championship which she secured even before the Ironman. Ballance Racing’s Walker Fowler, who has also already locked in his series championship, took his twelfth straight XC2 Pro Am win – a series record. In XC1 Pro competition, Ballance Racing’s Taylor Kiser finished second – his fifth podium of the season – which moved him to third in overall series points.
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.
The 4th Annual Heartland Challenge presented by GBC Motorsports took Carlisle, Iowa by storm this year. Great weather and great track conditions made this year’s event a fun and exciting weekend full of racing for all in attendance.
Andy Kyner and his IATVHSS (Iowa ATV Hare Scramble Series) team did a fantastic job with all aspects of the event, receiving rave reviews from riders and spectators alike. The course itself offered up a variety of terrain, including tight technical sections with frequent elevation changes, long and fast straight-aways through the heartland’s farm fields, and motocross-style whoops and jumps. The “Heartland Challenge” section is of course the defining feature of this event, in which competitors must negotiate a variety of obstacles.
GBC Motorsports was out in full force for the event, with its full line of ATV and UTV products on display. GBC showcased its new Kanati truck tire throughout the weekend. There was an impressive roster on vendor’s row, including PIAA lighting, which provided an array of products to help with the nighttime portion of the event, as well as C&D ATV.
The first event of the weekend was Friday night’s UTV challenge. The four-hour endurance race saw Team Elias narrowly beat out Team Coastal/Yokely Racing, with Team Extreme rounding out the podium. The Open UTV class podium was comprised of Team Coastal/Yokely Racing, Team Extreme and Team Donkey. The 850 Mod class saw overall winners Team Elias on top, followed by Team Galloping Zebra and Team LM1. Team I Love Hooters, Team D&S Racing and Team A-Team were the top three finishers in the 850 limited class.
Proving once again that endurance racing is not just for adults, Saturday morning’s three-hour youth challenge gave teams of young riders the opportunity to compete on much of the same terrain as their older and more experienced counterparts. When the checkered flag flew it was Team Dirtworks taking the overall win, with Team NA in second and Team Extreme in third.
Later on Saturday, 54 teams finished their preparations and lined up for a Le Mans style start, in which riders dashed 20 yards before firing up their quads and heading out on the course. After 10 hours of racing, defending champions Team Ballance Racing Yamaha (Kiser, Fowler and Brown) once again claimed the $6,000 top prize, putting on an impressive display of riding in the process. Team Woodhead (Wolf, Ockerman and Henthorn) finished second overall for the second consecutive year while Team Sweet Home Alabama (Pickens, Gallagher and Cecco) rounded out the podium in third.