Malcolm Smith is considered to be one of the best
off-road motorcyclists of all time. He has won more metals
in the International Six Day Trials than any other American.
He has found great success in desert racing in both buggies
and motorcycles, winning his class at the Baja 1000 six
times and finishing second in his class four times.
Smith was born on March 4, 1941, on Salt Spring Island in
British Columbia, Canada. His father had purchased a sheep
ranch on the Island with the earnings he had made as gold
miner in north region of the province. In 1946 the family
ready for a change returned to their native United States
and settled in San Bernardino, California.
At thirteen years old Smith purchased his first motor
scooter, a Lambretta. Smith lived close to the edge of the
San Bernardino National Forest and would regularly explore
the area on his scooter along with a friend. The boys
converted their scooters in to off road machines by screwing
in the used cleats from the local high school football team
into their tires.
Two years later Smith purchased his first real dirt bike, a
Matchless. Small for his age he had difficulty kick starting
the large bike and would push the bike to the top of a hill
in order to roll start it. Despite his difficulties getting
the bike going, he took it to enter his first race. He
entered the Scrambles Race at Riverside, CA. His strategy
was to hold the throttle wide open. The technique lead to
numerous crashes yet Smith finished in second place. It
occurred to him on the way home from the race if he had
utilized his normal riding technique which did not involve a
lot of crashing, he probably could have won the event.
Smith continued to race throughout the 1950s and 1960s as a
side hobby while working for Norm McDonald and Kenny Johnson
at their Riverside, K&N Dealership building racing engines.
In 1966 Edison Dye of the Swedish Husqvarna motorcycle
company found Smith at the shop and offered him a
sponsorship deal. The deal included a new dirt bike and an
all expenses paid trip to the International Six Day Trials
in Sweden. The event is now called the International Six Day
Enduro. Smith took second place at his first event racing on
unfamiliar muddy European soil. He went on to claim eight
gold medals at the Six Day events from 1967 through 1976
making him one of the most successful Americans ever during
the course of the event’s history.
Smith also found great success racing on North American soil
and has won his class at the Mexican 1000 and its
predecessor the Baja 1000 six times. In 1967 he came in
first in the motorcycle class second overall, sharing the
riding with J.N. Roberts. In 1969 he took the 250cc
motorcycle class. He repeated the first place motorcycle
overall finish again in 1971this time with Gunnar Nelson.
After a serious motorcycle accident he tried his hand at
racing the event this time in a four wheel vehicle. The
results resembled his record on the bike and he once again
won his class and taking second overall with Bud Feldkamp as
co-driver in the 1975 event. They achieved the same success
in 1977. In 1982 he and Bob Gordon shared the wheel of a
Chenowth Porsche and won their class.
He continued his racing career into the 1980s participating
in the 22 day long, North African, Paris-Dakar Rally. In
1986 he came as Press Corp. In 1988 he and his navigator
Alain Fieuw took their Range Rover to a fourth place finish.
In 1972 Smith purchased the K&N Dealership which was renamed
Malcolm Smith Motorsports in 1973. While running the
dealership kept his hands full he managed to find time to
work with film maker Bruce Brown to shoot the off-road
classic “On Any Sunday.” Smith did not think that his role
in the film would be significant due to the small amount of
time he felt he was filmed. He was amazed at the amount of
coverage he received and the positive recognition that the
Smith has been leading specialty tours for the public since
1995. His tours, Malcolm Smith Adventures, take
motorcyclists on rides in North America, Mexico along the
Baja 1000 route, New Zealand, South Africa, and South
He has not just toured the world he has contributed back to
it as well. He hosts an annual Six Days of Baja Charity Ride
which has contributed over $150,000 to orphanages in Mexico.
He is a trail leader for the Colorado 500 charity ride which
makes annual donations to the communities which it visits.
He also operates the non-profit Malcolm Smith Motorsports
Foundation founded in 2002, The Foundation supports the El
Oasis Orphanage home to about 50 children.
Notes From Malcolm Smith
Fiolka, Marty. 2005. 1000 Miles to Glory, The History of the
Baja 1000. Phoenix, AZ.: David Bull Publishing.
www.malcolmsmithrides.com, about Malcolm
The Motorcycle Hall of Fame, Malcolm Smith Biography