5 Mins with... Jeff Emig

5 Mins with... Jeff Emig

September 5, 2012 1:00pm

Okay, you all know 'Fro. If you were watching the races in the 1990s, you know him as one of the best of his era, and if you watch the races now, you know him as the color commentator for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and Monster Energy Supercross. But Emig has an additional gig coming up, as Ricky Carmichael University makes its West Coast U.S. debut Monday at Lake Elsinore (after Saturday's pro national and an amateur day on Sunday). Emig, Jeff Stanton and Johnny O'Mara will join Ricky Carmichael and Ricky's mom Jeannie for riding instructions on the National track.

Here's the story of how Jeff Emig became part of RCU, and what he hopes to accomplish at the school next week. And CLICK HERE for more info on RCU (including sign up info, as spots are still available).

Racer X: After you retired from racing, you found some work within the [motocross] industry. Was this something you had laid out plans for, or did you just kind of play it by ear?
Jeff Emig: I knew that I wanted to have the color analyst position with the TV show, even though it was incredibly frightening for me to actually do. Not a lot of people know that I’ve grown up with a speech impediment—that I stutter and stammer at times. To become one of the voices for our sport and subject myself to potentially embarrassing situations—it can be pretty scary. It’s something that I always wanted to do, and I always admired former riders and athletes that were really good on the mic and really had something to say. I think that’s why I gravitated towards the broadcasting position.

Since I’ve retired from racing—probably three or four years premature due to my back injury—I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the Shift brand, Kawasaki, and TV shows for FUEL and other networks. There were about five years that went by [after retiring] where I really didn’t do much. That also was a bit frightening, like, ‘Wait, I’m 34 years old but I’m not really doing anything.’ Fortunately, the fact that I was still heavily involved with motocross—and the fact that I plan on being involved till I take my last breath—helped when the broadcasting thing came along.

Emig is back for another year at RCU, which will take place after the season finale at Lake Elsinore on Monday September 10.
Simon Cudby photo

You’ve also been involved with Ricky Carmichael University since its conception, with Lake Elsinore coming up as the fourth event to date. How did you become involved with that?
Ricky and I have been friends for a number of years. We were teammates back in the 90s, and I would have to say that in the last decade our friendship has become very close. I love spending time with Ricky and his partner JH. He invited me to be a guest instructor at the inaugural event at Daytona and I’ve been involved with every RCU since. It’s been great. All of the instructors on the panel have something different to bring. We come in with different stories and paths about how we’ve become champions, but at the end of the day we share a lot of similarities. We’ve done it in our own way and flavor, but the foundation for riding technique and strategy for success are basically the same. The riders taking RCU get the opportunity to learn the strict fundamentals of motocross riding on the track, but off the track, I feel we bring enough information and knowledge to everyone taking RCU that hopefully, in the end, they become better and more qualified motocross riders that can ride safer. It’s not necessarily about going out and seeing how fast you can go, but rather developing a strict technique and learning the fundamentals that allow you to go out and ride at a good pace while remaining safe. The fact that we have such a great cast at each one of these universities helps bring in all of the positive feedback we’ve been receiving.

So who has been involved as an instructor year after year, and who’s new to the team this time around?
Jeff Stanton and myself have been a part of every one of the RCU events, and Jeanie Carmichael will also be there again. It’s hard to think of her being a mother and a grandmother, but at the same time she really knows technique and knows how to work with the riders. She’s been very instrumental in Ricky’s success as a racer. We are now also going to be joined by the legendary Johnny “O Show” O’Mara, and that’ll be pretty cool. Not only does he have a Hall of Fame credential as a racer, but then you also look at what he’s achieved in the world of mountain biking and training since he’s retired. He had the knowledge and experience to coach and guide Ricky through his career, and has of course also worked with James Stewart as well. He brings in a wealth of knowledge that will make it all new again for the rest of us. I know that for myself, I try and take a little nugget away from every RCU and continue to grow as an instructor. It really helps being on hand to hear every conversation and being able to listen to the advice from other instructors.

Emig (above) will be joined by Jeff Stanton, Johnny “O Show” O’Mara, Ricky and Jeanie Carmichael.
Simon Cudby photo

RCU has been to Daytona twice and England once. How do you feel about it heading out to the West Coast now?
Well I’d feel much better if it were ten degrees cooler, but hey, it’s September in California and it’s going to be great! From what I understand, they’ve really put a lot of work into the Elsinore track and everyone is really excited to be on board. I know that I’ll personally be working on starts again, and since the last RCU in England—at FatCat—I’ve actually put a lot of thought into what I can do differently to make my segment even better. So there are those new things I’ve been working on and it should be exciting. You know, we’re right here in Southern California. We’re in the nucleus of motocross. I imagine there are going to be some people that sign up for RCU that will be pretty good riders to begin with. We’ll also have kids that are just learning how to use a clutch and Vet riders that are 40 and 50 years old. You’re trying to teach the new kids good habits to begin with and break the old bad habits of the older guys, and then there’s always some intermediate to expert level riders coming in that are pretty damn good. You’re starting to really split hairs with them, working on ways to help that rider win that’s normally going out and getting tenth place at the local expert class. It’s a pretty diverse class that we have, but to this point, everyone has been happy with the product we’ve been able to deliver. It makes us feel good, and I really think that we’re onto something. In years to come, RCU will be so much more than just a riding school or clinic. It will be a full-blown weekend of instruction, riding, and really enjoying the sport of motocross.