Immortalized as the champion desert racer with the big friendly grin in the movie "On Any Sunday," Malcolm Smith's place in history will be that of an off-road motorcycling pioneer, both as a racer and a businessman.
Dirt Rider magazine wrote that Malcolm Smith isn't your typical racing legend. In fact if you dig down into his motorcycling roots, you'll discover that his beginnings were less than auspicious. Malcolm was 13 years old when a two-wheeler first caught his eye. His first bike was a 1953 Lambretta. "I was real careful and real cautious," he recalled. "But even though I went slow, I loved riding. Once I discovered the freedom it gave me, my mother couldn't get me off it." Eventually he started working at the local motorcycle shop, earning money for parts and learning more about the mechanics involved.
Despite three years' study in aeronautical engineering at Cal Poly, Smith accepted an offer to become service manager for K&N cycles in Riverside, California. Malcolm was now a seven-day-a-week motorcyclist, working during the week and racing on the weekends.
As his riding skills developed, he was soon faster than any of his buddies. In the early days, he raced such bikes as Matchless, BSA and Greeves before he met the motorcycle that would become synonymous with his name-Husquavarna. Malcolm finished third in his first race with the Swedish brand and won his second. It was on the red and silver Huskys that his greatest successes were achieved.
Malcolm was the master of the Baja in the early years, winning the Baja 1000 six times, three times on a motorcycle and three more times in a buggy. Add to that four Baja 500 wins and a pair of Mint 400 victories, and you have an amazing desert career in itself.
But the desert was just one aspect of Malcolm's two-wheel success story. He was also a top driver in the grueling International Six Days Trials. Malcolm won a silver medal in his first attempt in 1966. After that first year, he won a total of eight gold medals, in Poland, Germany, Spain, two at the Isle of Man, Berkshire Mass., Italy and Austria. In those nine years, he raced 54 consecutive days without a breakdown, a testament to both his riding and mechanical skills.
Malcolm has also contributed to the sport with improved technology. Over the years, Malcolm Smith Products and MS racing designed and developed hundreds of products to improve the sport for racers and hobbyists alike.
Throughout his life, Malcolm has managed to combine a competitive attitude with an adventuresome spirit. That spirit has showed no signs of diminishing as Malcolm has competed in such events as the Paris-to-Dakar rally.