Yamaha ATV Pro Racers Weigh in on 2012 GNCC
Expectations Grow as Team Blue
Grabs Podiums Leading into Big Buck
CYPRESS, Calif. Ė April 11, 2012 Ė Yamaha Motor
Corp., U.S.A., has a deep and talented team
competing in the Grand National Cross Country
(GNCC) ATV series this year with three racers in
early contention for their respective pro-level
championships after the first three rounds of
Led by Bill
Ballance and Ballance Racing, Taylor Kiser and
Walker Fowler are both in the running for the
XC-1 crown. Kiser is a solid second
overall in XC-1 points and is fresh off a big
win at Steele City, while Fowler is currently in
fourth overall in his inaugural XC1 season.
Yamahaís Traci Cecco, a GNCC series veteran and
seven-time Womenís pro champion, is a close
second so far this season only one point back
from the overall lead.
Heading into the
fourth round of 2012 at the famous Big Buck
course in Union, South Carolina, the Yamaha GNCC
racers talked about the current season, their
teammates and competition, and shared some
thoughts and expectations for the rest of the
Bill Ballance Question: Youíre
widely known as the best Off-Road ATV racer of
all time, and while you havenít announced any
plans to officially retire from racing, youíre
transitioning more into a team management role Ė
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.
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 Ė 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
Bill Balance Question: Tell
us about the upcoming GNCC University. You
have a lot going on with running Ballance
Racing, working with sponsors and even
continuing to race some yourself. How do
you find time to donate to this program, and
what do you get from working with young racers?
BB Response: The GNCC U is a great!
Being able to have this riding school at
Snowshoe makes this event special. Working
with the kids is always a good reminder of how
fortunate we are to be in the position we are in
-- being able to do what we love. This
gives us a great opportunity to pass along some
of our knowledge and skills to the younger
racers and to give back to the sport. Itís
a great feeling to actually have time to spend
with these kids and answer some of their
questions. At the races, it seems like we
are always pressed for time and having events
like these gives us time to relax a little and
focus on them. We hope this will help to
build our sport for the future!
Ballance Question: Do you have any expectations
for this season?
BB Response: Oh
yeah, I sure do! Iím expecting Taylor and
Walker to be in a position to bring home a GNCC
Championship this year!
Question: Congratulations on the big win at
Steele Creek. Is there something in
particular that you can point to that put you
over the top?
I really canít point to one thing that put me
over the top. I have had a strong group of
supporters behind me keeping me motivated.
The YFZ450R has been working great, and
everything is starting to come together!
Taylor Kiser Question: Youíve been working with
Bill Ballance for a couple of years now.
Whatís the best part of being on Ballance
TK Response: Working with Bill
is great! He is by far the best suspension
guy in the business. He is always coming
up with new ideas to improve our race quads.
I can go to the line week in and week out
knowing that I am on the best set-up equipment
Taylor Kiser Question: Some
might argue that you and Walker make up the
toughest team on the tour. Do you guys
spend a lot of time training together? Do
you have a friendly competition or is it every
man for him self?
This winter was
really the first time that Walker and I have
spent any time together. He came down and
lived at my place in Florida for the winter.
I felt like it was a tremendous help to both of
our programs for him to come down. He
lives in Ohio, so we donít get a chance to ride
that much together during the season, but
whenever we have the chance, I definitely enjoy
training with Walker. We have a pretty
friendly competition. Whenever we can get
together on the track, I feel like it is a
benefit to both of us, because you have someone
there you are comfortable riding with, and you
know will help push you!
Question: So, youíve been winning championships
your entire career, but this is your first XC-1
Pro season. Any expectations?
Being my rookie XC1 Pro season, Iím
not expecting a championship. With that
being said, I do expect consistent podium
finishes out of myself. I know I have the
speed and fitness to run with the veterans, but
putting the full package together each race can
be tough especially as a rookie. But,
championships can come when you least expect it
Walker Fowler Question: GNCC races
have been described as the toughest endurance
test in ATV racing. What do you do to stay
in shape throughout the season?
Response: This winter when I was living with
Kiser in Florida, I picked up a road bike and
began cycling. You find out quickly how
out of shape you truly are! Along with
that, I ride three days a week for an hour as
hard as I can push myself safely. Also, I
go to the gym and do a lot of body-weight
related workouts to build muscle without
potential injury that heavy weight training can
Walker Fowler Question:
What do you think is your biggest challenge this
WF Response: My biggest
challenge this season is simply myself.
Putting myself in the right mindset against the
best on the east coast and arguably the nation
13 times a year is tough. Defeating the
mental game is stage one. On top of that,
I have to convince myself I belong with the best
of the best and compete at the level I know I
can. Iím not out there to prove myself to
anyone. As long as I finish knowing I left
it all on the course, Iíll be happy. Three
races in, I donít feel Iíve left it all out
there, and Iím unhappy with myself, so Iím
working on some big changes to hopefully put me
where I need to be; and thatís on the box each
Traci Cecco Question: Youíve
been leading the womenís class in GNCC racing
for nearly a decade now. How have you seen
the series change from when you first started?
Everything has changed
tremendously. When I first started racing
the GNCCs, there was a Womenís class but no
Youth or Amateur race. We all raced at the
same time, if you can believe that. The
only video that was shot was homemade videos by
family. There was no Facebook, Tweeting or
live online scoring. I went GNCCing
because I loved to race and because of the
family atmosphere it offered. Over the
years, change happened: The big factory rigs
came rolling in, we outgrew tracks, they added
the youth, AM, and UTV races, media exposure
exploded, RacerTV was born, even the Womenís
class received a spot on NBC Sports Network (how
cool is that?). I could go on and on.
The GNCC series is growing, and I am happy and
blessed to be a part of it. There is one
thing I learned through the years though ...
change is good, but there is one thing that
hasnít changed in GNCC racing, and that is the
family-like atmosphere. It keeps me coming
Traci Cecco Question: Any advice
for new ATV racers and/or someone just thinking
about trying it out for the first time Ė guys or
TC Response: My advice would be
to try out a few local races first and work your
way up to racing for two hours. When you
are ready for that, I recommend you choose a
GNCC class that is appropriate for your racing
Traci Cecco Question: Whatís your
favorite track, and why?
My favorite track is Snowshoe. I am a big
fan of rocks and the overall terrain it has to
offer. Also it is a great place to stay.
Itís like a city on top of a mountain.
Food, entertainment, hotels and racing all in
one spot. What more could you want?
About Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A.
Corporation, U.S.A., (YMUS) a leader in the
motorsports market, makes the toughest, most
capable and versatile ATV and Side-by-Side
vehicles. The companyís ever-expanding product
offerings also include motorcycles, outboard
motors, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, boats,
outdoor power equipment, race kart engines,
accessories, apparel and much more. YMUS
products are sold through a nationwide network
of dealers in the United States.
Headquartered in Cypress, Calif., since its
incorporation in 1976, Yamaha also has
facilities in Wisconsin and Georgia, as well as
factory operations in Tennessee and Georgia. For
more information on Yamaha, visit