GRID TALK- Billy ‘Skippy’ McConnell | Columns | Gassit Garage
We discover what Billy – currently racing a ZX-10R in the British Superbike championship – has in common with Rossi and AMCN’s Youngy
Tell us something most people don’t know about you
Probably that I’m born with only one testicle. ‘One Ball Bill’ my dad calls me. Some people say: ‘Gee, you must have big nuts to race bikes’ – and I say: ‘I’ve only got one.’ They always laugh because they think I’m joking.
When did you first start racing?
It was actually on a jet ski when I was 14. I also started doing motocross around the same time and then I went into roadracing – doing trackdays with my dad.
It was one of the state rounds – and then we won one of the races in the Australian Superstock championship. In 2004 we were leading the championship and then we came over to England.
Your main aim in BSB this year?
It would be awesome if we could get a few more top fives before the end of the season and try to sneak a podium. Hopefully we’ll get the new bike next year (he’s currently on a 2015 ZX-10R) and do the whole testing thing (Billy swapped teams a week prior to the first round and missed out on crucial testing in Spain).
Your greatest career moment so far?
Winning the R6 Cup (in 2005) because if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have got a factory Superbike ride. Winning the Supersport championship in 2014 was also special. It felt like a long time coming because we came so close for five years. It was more of a relief than anything. I could wake up on a Monday morning and not have anyone ring me and go: ‘If you didn’t f*** up at this round you’d have been all right.’
Funniest racing moment?
I had a big crash back in 2010 – hitting the ground pretty hard. I couldn’t feel my back. It was a bit numb, like a happy slap. I managed to get up, jump on a marshal’s bike and get back to the pits. I was getting changed in the motorhome and felt like I had broken my coccyx. So I put my hand down to feel it – and there was a big turd hanging out! I hit the ground that hard that it blew a full turd out. It was funny afterwards – but my mate was retching with his head out the window. I ended up trying to push it down the shower drain.
Ever play pranks on others?
A piece of Sellotape across the pit wall is pretty funny – so if anyone walks through it they’ll get it stuck on their face. It works great in dark areas – like along the stairs in the race truck. I remember one of the boys, who wears glasses, who hit it and as he pulled his head back the glasses ended up sprung there in mid-air.
When are you visiting Australia next?
I’ve just bought a house with my partner Jessi and we’re doing that up, but we’re planning to go back this year. I’d like to do a few races back in Oz and I was hoping the summer series was going to start, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. A summer series would be awesome. They really should do a one-make series – everyone has to run a stock ZX10 or Honda – and all the Aussies who come back in the summer could take part. The Bayliss Classic has escalated from normal flat trackers to 30 grand things from America!
How does BSB compare to racing in Oz?
The proximity of all the tracks from my house (in central England). I’m in Scotland in four hours, while all the other tracks are a within two-and-a-half hours. I’ve got one track nine kilometres from me, Donnington’s 16 and Silverstone’s 40 clicks away. I also work as a test rider for Triumph – like (AMCN’s) Paul Young did – and I’m literally around the corner from the company. I do about 35 hours of testing for them a month.
What have you got in the garage?
A Triumph Bonneville T120, which is a collector’s edition with only 55 or so made, and my dad’s got a Triumph Scrambler back home – so I ride that when I go back.
Golf, triathlon and boxing training. I’ve just bought a new motocross bike (KX450F) to do flat track stuff on (like Valentino Rossi). Back home it’s jet skiing.
Interview: Oscar Kornyei