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Feature Story: Emma Spruill

The KTM Junior Supercross Challenge is always one of the most entertaining facets of the night show at a Monster Energy Supercross, lining the gate with a group of some of the fastest mini-bike riders selected from across the country. Emma “Hot Sauce” Spruill was one of the lucky few that was picked to compete at the second round of the Monster Energy Supercross series in St. Louis. The eight-year-old boarded a plane, along with her parents, in her home state of North Carolina and flew into Missouri for the race in the same fashion as a factory rider. The youngster wasn’t distracted or thrown off by all of the glitz and glamour of the stadium lights and massive crowd as she remained in the zone out on the track, improving her lap time down until the checkered flag lap of the main event. Unfortunately, there were a few bumps along the way as she experienced what her dad, Jason, described as the scariest crash she’s ever had in the opening practice session. Emma ended up falling backwards down the approach of the tunnel jump and flipped over along with her bike, providing quite the crash test for her LS2 Subverter in the process. Despite the heavy impact, she was able to get back on the bike and get right back after it, completing the remainder of the practice session which propelled her to a 13th place finish in the main event. We caught up with Jason and Hot Sauce herself to talk about the experience of racing the KTM Junior Supercross Challenge and their newfound respect for their LS2 helmet.

LS2: So, you guys had a bit of a scary experience with a crash this weekend in St. Louis --t

alk a little bit about that.

JASON: We actually switched to LS2 recently, I think this might’ve been Emma’s first race in the helmet. We had a riding buddy of hers that wore LS2 and we talked to their parents; they told us about it and spoke very highly of it, so we made the switch. It was the first practice and the tunnel jump was crazy of course --for the juniors, they would only let them take one line and Emma and I kind of had a game plan. She was going to come out of the turn full speed and kind of hit it like a tabletop and try to land on top of it, ‘cause with those 50's you definitely don’t want to go up it slow. She came out of the turn doing what we had talked about and one of the kids stopped at the very top, so she had nowhere to go and locked everything up. She went completely backwards and pretty much just flipped down the hill --I couldn’t see it, I was waiting for her to come over the finish line but then I heard one of the parents say “Number 8 went down pretty hard, it’s crazy!” I’m used to her being number 100, so it took my brain a second and I’m like “Oh crap, we’re number 8.” The KTM guys came to me and they thought she was really hurt because she was yelling and everything and when they finally got her to talk, she was just mad. She was good, she wasn’t shaken up or anything, just mad because the boy in front of her locked it up on her. They got her bike started and you could tell she was trying to shake it off in the first practice, but then came back second practice and smoked it and in the main event she got faster every lap --her fastest lap was her last lap.

EMMA: So, I was going up the (tunnel jump) and the first couple people did fine. They had us bunched up and I was right behind this guy. He was almost to the top and he just stopped, so I went back and it didn’t really end well. I locked up the brakes and I kept hitting them but I couldn’t stop, so I just went back and flipped over (down the jump).

LS2: So, there were no lingering injuries from the crash or anything of that nature?

JASON: I don’t know how high that tunnel turn is, but they’re crazy. She came down it and the only issue she had Sunday morning was a little bit of a bruised neck and we kind of think that’s just from the neck brace doing its job. The LS2 rep came up and said something to us at the line, I told him we’ve only had this helmet less than a month and you’ve got me sold, I’m a believer. You could see the scratches where the the helmet took the impact in the clear coat on top, so it was a pretty hard hit.

LS2: What were some of the positives you noticed about LS2 after getting your hands on a helmet?

JASON: Well, I grew up racing (not motocross, but auto racing) and you don’t

skimp money on helmets. So we didn’t know anything about the MIPS system and we started paying attention to that last year and then we learned about the

KPA and flex of the energy management system which impressed us. The quality of the helmet and the price point --on the inside, it feels and looks like a $1,000 helmet and it’s not. Emma grows so much in spurts that you end up buying a lot of gear just based off of size, so the affordability is huge. But, I was really impressed with the quality of the helmet and the build of it. I thought the material the visor was made out of was pretty neat when we got it and she should’ve lost a visor Saturday, but she didn’t. You couldn’t even tell that the visor has hit the ground, so the biggest thing is just the safety of the helmet and the quality of it.

EMMA: I really like it! It’s lighter and I’m not a bobblehead when I’m out there riding.

LS2: How was the experience itself of racing inside that massive stadium in front of all the Supercross fans?

EMMA: It was really exciting! I had a great time, it was just a lot of fun. This one time when I was going up a jump I got stuck, but that was the only bad part of the race. Other than that it was really exciting and I finished 13th, so that was pretty good.

JASON: We have a different outlook with Emma on things. Some of the parents were trying to win, some were trying to finish top three, and we wanted to get a top ten. My wife told me after the race that the announcer was talking about number 8, Emma, and how some of the other kids had crashed during the race and she hadn’t, coming back from her accident earlier in the day and how she was tough as nails --that was a win for us! We just want her to ride her best and the fact that she had that wreck earlier on in the day, it’s already a big event, and she was nervous in the beginning, the fact that she came out in the main event after that crash and held it together was awesome.


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