Meet BillaVista!

By Bill "BillaVista" Ansell
Photography: Bill Ansell
Copyright 2012 - Bill Ansell
(click any pic to enlarge)

Introduction

Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Bill "BillaVista" Ansell and I am the owner of BillaVista.com 

BillaVista.com is the official, authorized home of the famous BillaVista Offroad Tech articles.

My goal here is to produce the most detailed, thorough, informative, and advanced tech articles of their kind available anywhere. It seems to be working - so far you readers number over 3,000,000 with a steady monthly average of over 84,000 unique visitors. Among you are ATV riders, 'wheelers, rock crawlers, off-roaders, four-wheel-drive & truck enthusiasts, and world class off-road motor sport competitors who come from the U.S.A., Canada, and as far away as Finland, South Africa, and Australia. 

This page is my introduction to you , the reader, and serves as a brief biography / resume of the man behind the articles.

Quick Facts

Name: Bill "BillaVista" Ansell.

Born: 1969, England, U. K.

Lived: England, Wales, Libya, Cayman Islands, Canada.

Currently Resides: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Work: Senior Officer, Air Combat Systems Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force.

Hobbies & Interests: Offroad, 4x4s, ATVs, Dirtbikes, Reading, Writing, Rugby, SCUBA, Photography, Camping, American muscle-cars, European sports cars, and Japanese sport bikes.

Biography

I was born in England and grew-up in England, Wales, the Cayman Islands, Libya, and Canada. My life-long fascination with 4x4s and offroad driving began in the Welsh mountains in the late 70's, bouncing around in the back of Dad's 1966 Series IIA short-wheelbase Land Rover. Dad is a brilliant mechanical engineer and we spent many hours fixing and tinkering with the Land Rover. As a boy I gleefully hung around handing him wrenches, learning colorful new words, and drinking in the following advice, "Use the right tool for the job..." often followed by the equally classic, "Don't do as I do, do as I say!" Dad has a knack for fixing the unfixable and making do with whatever is at hand. I swear he can take a bolt, reduce it one size, and re-cut the threads using only a small hand file. We didn’t use the word back than, but my Dad is pure “hardcore”, and that’s how I got my start with a powerful, life-long obsession.

Since then I have owned, driven, and wrenched on many different ATV's, Dirtbikes, and 4x4s from a Land Rover in the Libyan desert, to my much-loved KTM 200 XC-W dirtbike, my 1-ton rock buggy called "The Wolf", to my 2013 Yamaha Grizzly 700 SE ATV. The pinnacle of my offroad career to date was forming Joint Force Racing with Charlie Melchner and racing the 2010 Ultra-4 series, culminating in running the 2010 King of the Hammers.

The early days! BillaVista is on the left in front of the family Land Rover, somewhere in the Welsh mountains. Circa 1977.
My new love - a 2013 Yamaha Grizzly 700 SE
My much-loved KTM 200 XC-W
My first serious "hardcore" offroad machine - the old '88 Jeep XJ Cherokee. Now gone but not forgotten.
The Wolf - my 1-ton rock buggy.
Racing the Rausch Creek Qualifier for the 2010 King of the Hammers race. We qualified in 5th position.

About the Articles

If I have a strength, it’s in my passion for detail and accuracy, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never get it wrong (and of course, I welcome your comments or corrections).

Not every article is going to be the same. Some will be long and detailed some quick and simple. Some will have a heavy do-it-yourself approach, and some will feature the best products from the industry. Some will be more controversial than others, and none will please everybody – but my aim is to cover a broad spectrum of ATV tech.

My goals? Hopefully to educate, definitely to share. To share what works and why, what doesn’t and why not, and most of all what I’ve learned, especially the blunders I have made – after all, a wise man once said, “you must learn from the mistakes of others, you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” (A theory you might think I’m challenging if you ever saw me with a cutting torch in my hands!) I also want to provoke thought and discussion and ultimately, if I’m successful, to inspire you – inspire you to get stuck in and work on your quad, to learn as much as you can, to create the best damn ATV you can , and to have a hell of a lot of fun doing it!

Family

I have been married to my beautiful and amazing wife, Laurie, since 1995. We have two awesome children, Mitchell and Jessica. The family is rounded out by our two big dogs, Chevy and Scout. As a family we can usually be found out ATVing, camping, four-wheeling, fishing, skiing, riding dirtbikes, and walking the dogs.

Chevy the "English Cream" Golden Retriever
Scout the Bernese Mountain X Golden Retriever

Why "BillaVista"?

I got the online nick-name "BillaVista" from an online friend of mine, Beezil, at the North American XJ Association forums. It was a spoof on the internet search engine "Altavista", which he tagged me with because I always seemed to have a link for anything - and particularly 4x4 related tech info. One day I boasted in fun that I could find out anything on the internet, and Beezil threw down the challenge by asking, "OK, smart guy, how many giraffes are there at the Chicago Zoo?". For a laugh, I looked up the Chicago Zoo, and lo and behold - they have a web site. It turned out that the big news on their site was the building of a new addition to the animal enclosures, and how all the animals had been temporarily moved until completion. So I posted the answer - zero giraffes currently at the Chicago Zoo - along with the link. Ever since then, the name stuck!

Resume

Education:

  • Wings Graduate – Canadian Forces School of Air Navigation
  • B.Sc. in General Science, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • Ontario Secondary School Grade 13 Honour Diploma, St. Andrew's College

Offroad Experience:

  • Over 25 years' experience in offroad driving and four-wheel-drive vehicles
  • Have owned, driven, and worked on many vehicles including Land Rovers, Nissan Patrols, Jeeps,  US Military Hummers, Toyotas, Ford Broncos, and custom rock buggies.
  • My wheeling experience spans four continents - the United Kingdom, the Libyan Desert, South America, and North America.
In the cockpit, racin' with Charlie.
Rock Crawling in The Wolf.

Custom ATV stereo I made for my wife's Honda TRX420PG
The Grizz!

Acknowledgements

And the credit goes to …

Of course, I didn’t get to be BillaVista all by myself. I ask your indulgence while I give credit where credit is due.

Thanks to my father, not only my inspiration, mentor, and hero – but often my professional Mechanical Engineering consultant.

Thanks also to my mother, herself a professional author and editor, for inspiring me to write and for providing tireless support and encouragement.

The technical team that backs me up is rounded out by Lonny Handwork, whose excellent 2 and 3-D drawings will often be featured in my articles – a picture really is worth a thousand words.

OK, well that’s about enough of that – wipe that tear from your eye and let’s get on with it!

Total:


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