Photo from the DR Archives
This photo is from Loretta Lynn’s in 1987 as Jeff Emig and Damon Bradshaw pick up their bikes for just one of the times they came together in the 125B Stock class. Of the three motos, they collided into each other and went down at least twice. Emig went 2, 2, DNF for 11th overall and Bradshaw went 1, 1, 10 for second overall. You’ve heard him announce supercross and motocross on TV for years, but we got Jeff Emig to commentate on a race that he was in –
“I’m not sure which of the three motos this is, but it’s definitely not the final moto. This is the first or second moto, and this was my first big race on a big bike, because I rode 80s the week before at Ponca. At Loretta’s it was 14-15 [age] class in the 80s, and I was pretty small for my age so at 16 I still rode an 80. But at Loretta’s I had to jump up to the big bikes. Bradshaw was the man, I mean, he was super-fast and he was pretty damn impressive that year. If I remember correctly I kept getting the holeshots and then he’d come up and catch me and it looks like this is a situation where we probably got together in the turn before the old step-up-step-down. The one thing I remember about that race was in moto 3, we got together just 50 yards down the track from where we are in this photo and we both had a massive crash in the air, hit the ground, and he got up and finished tenth and I DNF’d the final moto. [re: reason for the DNF] My gas tank got split and I ended up with gasoline all over my, uh, all over my crotch. And so I’m basically pulling my riding pants down and I was grabbing – the flagger had a water jug and so I’m taking his water jug and pouring it on my [crotch] because I was on fire. Plus I got cut right above my eye. But that was in moto three, I’m pretty sure this photo is from the second moto. I mean, it’s been a couple of years, right? [re: dirty or just racing? And who was at fault?] What I remember from these motos with Bradshaw is he clearly was faster, there’s no doubt about it. I probably was the second fastest guy in the class, but I got great starts. I remember being out front and him chasing me down. In the first moto he chased me down pretty easily. In the second moto I was a little closer. And then in the third moto I was a little closer yet. But this is definitely one of those turns where if you get to the inside of a guy you can get a pretty good slam on him. So it looks like I had the lead and he probably hit me and we both went down. Bradshaw, he’s the Beast from the East, they didn’t call him that for being a creampuff out there. The guy was gnarly, especially around this time. He was about as aggressive as you could get on the motorcycle. Historically I got great starts and I was pretty good at keeping people behind me with line choice and things like that, but it looks like he got into the back of me and probably skipped my back tire out and then we both went down. [re: expecting this type of riding from Bradshaw] Oh sure. We both had, at that point, established our reputations. My job is to keep him behind me, his job is to get by me and go win the race. It’s interesting, you know. You can sit there and try to put blame on all these different sorts of racing incidents, but the bottom line is, we’re all, everyone one of us, is trying to do the best we can and get to the front to win the race. And sometimes you get, I think that… There’s too much fair play going on. There’s a little bit of rubbing that happens, that’s part of it. And if you just want to go off of purely ‘Who’s the fastest guy?’ well then let’s just do lap times and then we’ll pack up and go home. But it’s not, it’s a race, and there’s a strategy to a race, and I was really good at getting the starts. Throughout my career it was my biggest advantage. So the point is to get from the drop of the gate to the checkered flag before the other guys do, and not always do you have to be the fastest guy to win. Sometimes, if you can ride smart lines, and I mean without being dirty and cutting guys off and blatantly doing stuff like that; I don’t condone that whatsoever. But certainly if you are good at holding your lines and guarding the insides, a guy that’s faster than you will have trouble getting around you, and he may make a mistake while trying to do that, and then that works to your advantage. But sometimes the fastest guy, he bitches about someone holding him up or blah, blah, blah, but it’s like, ‘Dude, it’s a race. It’s not lap times.’ [re: what was his start secret] I think that I had great technique throughout my career, but I was always light, especially back in those days. I was always the lightest rider on the gate. This is the stock class, and it’s just a stock bike, but my dad was really good at tuning the engines and jetting and things like that so even in the stock class my bike always ran really good. We were really good at staying within the rules but making sure that it’s tuned properly through gasoline and jetting and different things like that.”
“I first got a 125 in the fall of the previous year and it started messing up my 80 riding, so my dad took it away from me. He wouldn’t let me ride the big bike until it was time for the Loretta’s qualifier. And back in the day, if I remember correctly, we only had to do one qualifier. He basically let me ride it the week before the qualifier, did that, and then I had to put it away and focus on my minicycle racing. Like I said, I’d ridden Ponca the week before, Stock, Modified, 105, and then that was my final ride on the minibikes. And I remember we loaded up, hauled ass to Tennessee, and the first day that you’re there you’re not really doing anything; well [shoot] I was in the jetting area riding all day long. The jetting area always gets all rutted out because people are over there warming up, well I was over there riding, essentially just getting used to the 125. I hadn’t ridden it since the qualifier, which is a month and a half, two months, earlier than that. [re: how did he like racing the 125] Once you step up to a big bike and it’s got more power and bigger wheels and it handles amazing, you never want to go back to your little bike once you’ve ridden the big bike. [re: looking back at that 1987 KX125] I think we had pretty good bikes that year. The KX 125 was pretty solid. There are definitely times I remember throughout history that certain manufacturers and certain models were just not up to par, but this wasn’t one of them, this was a pretty good bike.”
“My primary obligations are with the broadcasting for Monster Energy Supercross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. The Monster Energy Cup is coming up this [weekend], I’m fortunate that I got to do the Motocross of Nations broadcast this year on CBS Sports Network, that was pretty cool, it looks like it’s going to be 31 races this year that I’ll call. I do a lot of work for Kawasaki with the marketing department and advertising with the TV commercials and the press launches with the new KX machines, so that keeps me pretty busy. Also I’m really involved with the Shift brand and Fox Racing. We’ve actually completed four of the five Shift Ride On Tour events and the final event is in Glamis at the end of October. We’ll have a three-day weekend out in Glamis. That should be awesome. We have a new idea to go ride some of these places that are off the beaten path that are not a race track and that’s been a blast. There’s a lot of information and photos and videos at www.shiftmx.com. One of the newest projects is getting really active with our family business, which is Emig Racing. We’ve just released a new product, a super high-end set of triple clamps made specifically for high end motocross and supercross-type racing. You can go to www.emigracing.com and go to the Jeff Emig Signature Series page. That’s been pretty cool because we’ve rebranded the family business and there are a lot of exciting things there and it seems like the right time for me to really get involved. My sister and my dad both run the business so the plan is to start adding some products to the line and pump that back up. Outside of that I’ve got two kids and a wife and a little mini-farm here in Riverside. I’ve got a pigmy goat, chickens, dogs, rabbits… I’ve got all kinds of stuff.”
For more about what Jeff Emig is up to, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @emig47.