We often say that our products here at SuperATV are designed by riders for riders, that our passion for the industry drives everything we do, and that this company is built on the back of our expertise. We wouldn’t say that if it wasn’t true, but it applies to more than just the owners, engineers, and mechanics.
That love of riding extends to every corner of SuperATV including customer service. That’s where you’ll find Kristen Smith helping people place orders and solving complex vehicle issues every day.
She knows her way around an ATV better than most, not because SuperATV taught her, but because of her dedication to the industry.
Kristen grew up on a farm near the small town of Deputy, Indiana just a few miles north of SuperATV’s home in Madison where they raised chickens, goats, and horses. Quads were a way of life then—an everyday tool that was required to just get the daily chores done whether that was feeding animals or hauling firewood. That doesn’t mean they were only for work. In their free time, Kristen and her family made trails throughout their land and rode for hours.
Those long evenings cruising around her family’s farmland would prove to be formative, but horse racing would be where she cut her teeth first.
When she watched her first Kentucky Derby as a kid, the horse she picked won. It was love at first sight. At age 13 she bought a horse—the first horse on the farm. She knew she wanted to be a jockey.
Journey to Jockey
She needed to save money so she could study to be a jockey at college. To that end she began working as an assistant retail manager here in Madison. That's when she met her boyfriend, Trent.
He was an avid quad cross-country racer and rider in a way that she never was. He had been racing for years and was becoming a competitive force in the sport. His love for quads was infectious, and she found herself itching to be on the track with him instead of watching from the sidelines.
Kristen bought her own race quad—a 2002 Honda 400 EX just like Trent's—and started to practice and improve alongside him. She loved the thrill of flying past trees and through mud. When she raced, the feeling of flying off the line into the unknown jumble of racers was intoxicating. She was adopted into an ever-growing race family filled with like-minded racers and competitors.
"Everyone just understands each other," said Kristen. "They're always there to help you out."
That community is what she loved most.
She still had her first love, though. Thoroughbred racing was calling her name, so she left her assistant retail manager position, put quads on hold, and went to Kentucky to finish her degree to become a horse jockey.
Racing and Reflection
While studying at the North American Racing Academy in Kentucky, she got her first real taste of what life as a jockey meant. She watched the students around her sacrifice everything to fight for real racing success and fall short. She saw the successful thoroughbred racers that sacrificed enough to be on top and the toll it took on their lives.
"The people that I worked with never had a smile or a kind word to say," Kristen said.
To succeed in that industry would have taken all her time and demanded a singular focus. It would have cost her too much—family, quads, and, apparently, joy. She made the difficult choice to return home to Indiana and leave thoroughbred racing behind in Kentucky.
When Kristen arrived back in Madison, SuperATV was on her mind. She had made a choice—it was quad racing over horse racing—and getting a job at SuperATV would mean that she would be that much more immersed in the industry. So that's what she did.
Now she works in customer service here at SuperATV. She helps customers find the parts they need and gets them the technical or installation issues solutions they need. And she knows her stuff.
In her spare time, she and her husband buy old beat up ATV’s and fix them up for resale. The process of fixing up a quad almost always results in installing a SuperATV bearing carrier. “The OEM carrier and a lot of other brands just don’t hold up with racing or frequent trail riding,” she says.
She also owns a 1984 Honda 50 Pit bike as sort of a pet project. Currently its top speed is around 22 mph downhill. They’re working on rebuilding the engine to get that number closer to 35 mph.
Kristen owns 3 race quads all of which have that same SuperATV bearing carrier installed in them. She also owns work quads that she uses to get chores done or just go trail riding. Her favorite vehicle of all time is the Honda 400 EX—only 2007 and older models, though.
“The older models are just tanks and will last forever. The first quad I bought was a 2002 with the ‘goggle’ style headlights, bone stock, and practically brand new.”
She expects that machine to outlast every other machine she owns.
Shaped by Experience
Kristen never looked back. Quad racing gives her the thrill she always hunted for in her childhood and in horse racing. She still practices with Trent, now her husband, but now they take turns cheering each other on from the sidelines.
Her dedication to the industry has led to constant improvement in her racing abilities. She's been in numerous races to get better at the sport she loves most. This year she's participating in her first full cross country quad racing series.
Kristen says, “My ultimate goal with racing is to be a competitive rider in A and Pro class in premiere race series in Indiana…on a 400EX...against the men.”
That fighting spirit, that goal of being better than the artificial barriers placed around her, all in service of the hobby she loves is emblematic of SuperATV's spirit, and the reason why Kristen is such a perfect fit here. The next time you call in for support, just remember: that voice on the other end of the line carries a multitude of knowledge, and it's no accident that they're the one you're talking to.