Jason Weigandt & Harlen Foley
Bill Ballance - Yamaha Factory GNCC Racer
History has been made. Or at least tied. Yamaha’s
Bill Ballance wrapped his seventh-straight GNCC
title up over the weekend at the FMF Power Line
Park GNCC, which ties Barry Hawk’s all-time
championship record of seven. It’s pretty
crazy to think that we’ve only had two ATV
champions in 14 years, but that’s what happens
when you’ve got such great talent racing in
this series. After the race, we tracked down Bill
along with the Versus TV Network camera crew and
got this interview going.
Ballance, how does it feel?
Bill Ballance wrapped up his Seventh GNCC
Pro Championship at Powerline Park with a
2nd Overall Finish
Oh it feels good. To get one of these was great.
Now seven times later, it’s pretty awesome.
It feels good because the competition gets stiffer
and stiffer every time, and there are so many more
people running up front, and the equipment just
keeps getting better and better. And now the money
is getting good. So I’m glad I’m where
I am at!
sure you are. This is something to be proud of.
A lot of people buy ATVs, but not everyone rides
them on a motocross track or in the sand dunes.
But everybody rides in the woods, and you’re
the fastest person out of all the riders that do
Yeah, it’s something to take pride in, but
I try not to think about things like that that much.
It’s pretty cool, but I don’t have that
promise for tomorrow or next week or next season.
So I had better enjoy it while it’s going
on. Seven championships is really nice, and I’m
having a blast
few years ago, I remember we switched to four-strokes
and people were saying you were done. I remember
you even joked about that down in the Texas opener
Oh yeah, a lot of that was just the speculation
and all. And I've done it, too. I remember when
I was first up here, I would look over at Barry
Hawk’s bike and think, “Oh if I just
had that I could win.” But I started getting
better stuff, and I learned it doesn’t help
as much as you think! And now the bikes are better
now then they’ve ever been.
2002, Bill Ballance grabs the Holeshot at
the Ironman and battled with long time rival
William Yokley to the finish line
In 2003, Bill Ballance headed
to the line for the last time on his 250R
at the Ironman with Barry Hawk by his side.
with factory sponsorship comes more responsibilities
on and off the track.
In 2004, Bill Ballance arrived
with a brand new Yamaha YFZ450 with Chris
Borich also switching to the Yamaha
Oh yeah. You have to do all of the things, and be
careful about what you say and do. I know everyone
is looking at me. If I’m walking the track
on Friday, and I see a good line, I had better ask
and make sure that line is a good and legal line,
because I know if it’s not people are going
to see it. It’s good for all of us to try
to be good role models and be good to these fans,
and do things with the media and all the things
like that. That’s part of it.
lot of riders will say to win this many races and
championships you have to be lucky, but you’ve
had the bad moments. Your stuff was stolen in Florida
a few years ago. And you’ve had injuries.
You’ve had bad moments and turned them into
Yeah, I started the season off once with a broken
ankle. Then one year, after the first race, I had
my trailer and all of my quads, maybe 70 or 80 thousand
dollars worth of stuff stolen. We struggled for
a few races after that trying to get things going.
Then a few years later I tore out all the ligaments
in my knee probably two weeks before the season
started, but I still managed, four or five weeks
into the season, to get rolling and get a championship.
There’s been a lot of rule changes in the
amount of races we count for the season, and we
keep trying and testing to figure out the best way
for the series. Sometimes we count all the races,
sometimes we throw away two or four. And the equipment,
we started out when everyone was on outlaw chassis
and two-stroke motors, and now everyone is on production
equipment and four-strokes. The sport has really
taken a big change during my era of championships,
so I’m pretty proud to be where I’m
at, and to stay on top through all that has happened.
You know, we’ve had some good battles. I’ve
had a couple of seasons with William Yokley where
he was close in points, and Matt Smiley has been
right there a few times. Now it’s been Chris
Borich. The competition just keeps stepping up.
has been tough on Bill over the years from
his quads stolen(2002), stick lodged in his
A-arm(2005), Bent Tie-Rod(2006)
Bill has overcome some serious
injuries to continue his streak especially
his fractured leg in 2005, which required
numerous screws to secure the bone
is there one thing you can point out over everything
else that allows you to come out on top?
I’d have to say dedication. A lot of people
talk about natural talent a lot, but I’m a
guy who doesn’t believe much in natural talent.
If there’s no heart, no grit and no determination
to go with it, then most of the time, the guys that
have the most natural talent never win a championship.
I think if you asked Ricky Carmichael or any of
the guys who have won multiple championships, they
would agree with that. Just dedicating time at home
to testing and practicing. Going to bed with it
on your mind and waking up with it on your mind
and living the sport. That’s what it’s
been about for me.
you want it worse than ever?
Oh yeah I want it more than ever. I have a championship
wrapped up, but we’ve got one more race to
run. We’re going to go home and do more work.
To be honest, we’ve got nine-straight days
of suspension testing scheduled now. Nine days between
this race and the Ironman, just so we can go out
and win that one just for the heck of it. It’s
been a blast and I’m having fun with this.