Interview: Jeff Emig
At the end of 1999, you had just come off of a victory at the US Open, and were getting ready for the 2000 season. What happened?
JEFF: During a practice session on December 30 (1999) at Stephane Roncada’s private supercross track, I came up short on a little triple jump. When I landed, I hit hard, and my wrists bent backwards in front of the handlebars. I broke both wrists. It was a severe impact, and I knew right away that my wrists were broken. Basically, my hands were wrapped around both of my forearms. It was painful. But more than just the pain, the mental and emotional part of it – it was just nine days before the first supercross of the season. My new team, new sponsors, all of our dreams of winning a supercross championship were gone. A lot of stuff just came crashing down at that very moment.
A few months later, you were preparing to comeback for the nationals. Then what happened?
JEFF: I came back to riding exactly three months after I broke my wrists – March 30. I was battling things that come with being off for that amount of time – tightening of the forearms and severe blisters on my hands. But as time went by I was starting to get over that and getting stronger. Our whole team was ready to start chasing those dreams again. Exactly nine days before the first national, I was out riding at Glen Helen, and I had the throttle stick coming over the finish line jump. I hit the jump way too fast, and was just launched off of it. I was trying to get on the brakes, but the engine just kept pulling. In the air, the bike looped out, and I separated from it at about 40 feet in the air. I landed without the bike, and right on my feet. I had a compound fracture of my right leg right about four inches above the ankle. I crushed the second lumbar vertebrae in my back. Right away I knew there was some serious damage.
This happened on a Thursday. My leg was operated on Thursday night. My back was operated on Saturday. Sunday morning is really the first time I remember being awake. Once I made it to the ambulance on Thursday, I was filled with painkillers, so I don’t remember too much. I remember on Sunday that the doctors came into my room, sat me up in bed, then stood me up with all the metal and rods in my leg and back. I was bummed.
At the time of that crash, I knew right away that I didn’t want to take the risk involved in racing anymore. I’ve been doing it for 25 years. When you are a racer, every time you get out on a bike, you are pushing the limits of either the bike or yourself. Therefore, there is a chance of error and risk. I didn’t want to be in that position anymore.
Can you look back on your professional motorcycle career and sum it up?
JEFF: You hear a lot of people talk about how they have their private life, and how they have their professional life. For me, it’s never been like that …. it’s all blended together. Maybe that’s because I’ve been so open about my personal life with both the fans and the media. Racing has never been like a career for me …. it’s just part of my life. It’s what I do. It’s been over 7 months since I’ve been on a motorcycle, and it feels like part of my life is missing. I am starting to dream about riding again, and maybe in a few weeks I’ll be able to get back on a bike again and play around on a KX 250.
JEFF: When did the idea come about to be a team owner/manager?
I’ve thought and dreamed about it for many years. But maybe in the back of my mind I never thought the opportunity would never come along. In a way, it’s funny, because I didn’t plan it this way …. it’s just the opportunity that’s come about. I’ve known for a long time that it’s something I want to do. I’m thankful to TheEdgeSports.com for being involved with my race team because that’s part of what’s made this whole thing possible.
If you could talk with each one of your fans all over the world individually, what would you communicate to them?
JEFF: It would be the same thing that I said to all my close friends, family, and sponsors at my retirement party. All of the hard work that everyone has put in, from team-mates, to work personnel, to sponsors, and this applies to the fans too, is that it all meant something very special to me. They’ve cared about what I did. They cared about how I finished. They cared about how I was feeling. It’s all meant something to me, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Thank you very much to everyone.