From 1992 through 1997, Jeff Emig carried the flag for Team USA. He rode two different brands of bikes in three different classes and helped guide Team USA to three wins in his record six consecutive visits to the Motocross des Nations. He was part of the last two teams to win as part of Team USA's record thirteen-year winning streak, and he was also on the team that finally lost in 1994. He was also on the one team that was arguably the best American trio ever to take to the same track.
Jeff Emig won the 125 class at the MXdN in 1992 and '93, but was caught off guard in 1994 by a remarkable Paul Malin and the British team. Team USA lost for the first time in 13 years.
One year later, Emig, again on the Yamaha YZ125, was joined by Kiedrowski on a 500 Kawasaki and newly crowned AMA Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath on the 250 in Schwanenstadt, Austria. Emig again held up his end, going 2-1 in the 125cc ranks. With McGrath fourth in the first moto and Kiedrowski solid, Team USA won again, giving them thirteen straight wins in the Motocross des Nations.
Here's the '93 race, albeit in German.
Emig moved up to the 250 in 1995 and won his class again. But Team USA lost for the second straight year. In this photo, Jeff had just crossed the finish line to win the third moto and was looking back to see how Ryan Hughes fared.
All good things must come to an end, and the winning streak finally did on the steep hills of Roggenburg, Switzerland, in September 1994. Emig was again slotted on the Yamaha YZ125, and he was heavily favored in the class. But he ran into a buzzsaw in the form of Great Britain’s Paul Malin, who put in the ride of a lifetime to go 1-1 and help the Brits shock Team USA and the rest of the world with a win. Emig was still solid at 2-2, LaRocco even better at 2-1 on the 500, but Kiedrowski had a tough day on the 250, going 4-3 against the other men in his group. Here's the day that the Americans finally lost.
In 1995 Emig went again, this time on a YZ250 to the race in Slovakia, and he was the top American with a 2-1 score. Ryan Hughes made his Team USA debut with a 2-2 in the Open class, but Steve Lamson's 3-3 ride behind a 16-year-old Sebastien Tortelli's blistering 1-1 and Stefan Everts' 2-2 cost the team the one point it needed to beat Belgium, and Team USA lost for the second year in a row.
Emig and his teammates Jeremy McGrath and Steve Lamson were literally head and shoulder above everyone else in Spain in 1996. Emig won the 500 class with a 1-1 finish.
Emig started the 1997 des Nations in Nismes, Belgium, with a runner-up ride, but fell way back in the last moto on a forgetable day for Team USA.
Emig's sixth and final day with Team USA was a train wreck—for Steve Lamson on the 125, for John Dowd in the 250 class, for Emig as the 500 rider (albeit on a KX250). Emig started strong with a runner-up ride in the first moto, but that would be the only top-ten finish for the Americans the rest of the day. The home team from Belgium won, and it was the beginning of a three-year losing streak for Team USA. Here's the third and final moto, which included Emig and Dowd.
Emig was a willing and tough competitor for Team USA. He was a top performer in his class almost every time, but the team itself was an even 3-3 in his years as a member. With just a few breaks in Switzerland '95 and Slovakia '95, he would have been 5-1 and higher up on the list. Regardless, we tip our visors to this American motocross legend, Jeff Emig, #9 on our Team USA Top 25 Countdown.
#10 Ryan Dungey
#11 Broc Glover
#12 Mike Kiedrowski
#13 Ron Lechien
#14 Ivan Tedesco
#15 Jeremy McGrath
#16 James Stewart
#17 Tim Ferry
#18 Steve Lamson
#19 Bob Hannah
#20 Danny LaPorte
#21 Chuck Sun
#22 Ryan Hughes
#23 Donnie Hansen
#24 Jim Pomeroy
#25 Mark Barnett