This young lady is showing the off-roading community that sport knows no age.
Age is just a number in the off-roading community. If you don’t believe it, just watch young Emily "Ems" Manders as she takes on the trails with the best of them.
With a knack for navigating rugged terrains, Ems has become a young face of the off-roading adventure. Her adventurous spirit has gained her more than just a little notoriety in the space - and she is encouraging others her age and beyond to take a chance on the sport.
At Goats Trail Off-Roading Apparel Company, we are excited to feature Ems as one of our up-and-coming trail riders. We recently reached out to Ems and her family to chat about her journey as an off-roader and what she has been up to since getting involved in the sport. We were floored by her passion and her commitment to the sport - at such a young age!
Ems was introduced to off-roading quite early. By age 4, she was already behind the wheel of her first RZR 170, and by 8, she graduated to a full-size rock crawler - just a tad bit sooner than some of us!
Her love for off-roading sparked when she drove on the Tie Rod Bender trail in Gypsum, CO, with her dad by her side. The experience was thrilling for Ems, and it was clear she had found her passion. And her dad helped her to continue to explore off-roading and develop her skills - while instilling a passion for the outdoors and a respect for the environment.
Training on the Trails, Wins on the Circuit
Much of Ems's expertise comes from real trail riding experiences. To sharpen her skills, her dad introduced cones on trail obstacles, making the courses more challenging and pushing Ems to improve her navigation skills. This style of training helped Ems develop finesse and precision to tackle any terrain.
And her training is paying off! This year, she showcased her skills at the W.E. Rock Competition in Vernal, UT, and secured a 4th place finish. She didn't stop there; her enthusiasm led her to the W.E. Rock Grand Nationals in Farmington, NM, where she completed every course and earned a 5th place finish – all without knocking over a single cone.
Ems is now looking forward to competing in the Western Series in 2024 and is excited to see what new terrain and obstacles await her in her journey.
When asked about her inspiration, Ems says looks up to Ultra4 racer Paul Horschel and off-roader Kalif Redden. Watching her Uncle Paul at the King of the Hammers yearly and attending numerous other Ultra4 races have been key memories in her desire to hit the trails.
For Ems, it’s not just about being behind the wheel or winning awards - this young rider is wise beyond her years. She says that it’s the hard work and focused approach to off-roading that keeps her interested in a world of distractions - and she even aims to learn welding and the mechanical skills to build her own buggy.
One of Ems’s cherished memories is her first independent run on the Sims Mesa trail, which her dad described as ‘the best day of his life.’ It’s those moments - that can’t be captured in a photo - that keep her pushing forward and exploring new challenges.
Ems currently drives her dad's Wheelinoutwest rear steer buggy. Although not initially designed for her, she fits well with a steering extension and a booster seat. A bit of elbow grease and ingenuity ensures that Ems is always comfortable and safe, which is an important factor for her and her family.
The buggy, equipped with 50-degree front and rear steering, 42-inch Nitto tires, a Vortec 4.3L motor, an Atlas transfer case, and Fox air shocks, proves to be a reliable companion on her adventures.
Ems’ Advice For Young Riders
Ems has been busy off the road as well - helping raise awareness for young riders in the sport as well as awareness for the community. Through the Wheelinoutwest Off-Road Channel, Ems has reached a wider audience, promoting the joy of off-roading and sharing her experiences with millions of viewers. She’s used her influence to help bring even more young, passionate off-roaders to the scene and to help spread awareness of safe, responsible off-roading.
Ems believes more young people should explore off-roading. When asked how to start, her simple advice was, "Talk to your dad about it." Ems’s story is not just about her love for off-roading but also the strong bond she shares with her dad, who’s her constant support on this exhilarating journey.
The Future is Bright for Young Riders
Ems’s adventure underscores the essence of starting young and learning through experience. Her journey is an open invitation to other young enthusiasts to step out, explore the off-roading world, and be part of a community that thrives on adventure and camaraderie.
Ems’s story, supported by our Goats Trail team, highlights the vibrant and inclusive spirit of the off-roading community, welcoming adventurers of all ages to explore, learn, and grow together on the rugged trails. Why not learn more about how you, too, can join in on the adventure?
Take your first steps towards becoming an off-road explorer by visiting our website, where you’ll find resources, articles, and other stories encouraging young riders to get out there and blaze new trails in the off-roading world. You’re sure to be inspired by Ems’s story of courage and determination.