Malcolm Smith at speed aboard his 8-speed Husqvarna in the 1971 Baja 1000
One afternoon in the mid-1960s, a man walked into a Southern California motorcycle shop looking for someone to race an unproven motorcycle with a foreign-sounding name. Lucky for that man, he walked into the right shop and found the right racer. Malcolm Smith took Edison Dye’s offer, and their partnership would help establish the Husqvarna motorcycle brand as a force in American off-road.
In recognition of Malcolm Smith’s contributions to the success of Husqvarna, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and Husqvarna Motorcycles North America are pleased to announce that Smith will serve as Grand Marshal at the 19th annual AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days this July 9-11 in Lexington, Ohio. Husqvarna is the Marque of the Year for 2010 AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days.
“Even today, decades after Malcolm Smith’s racing prime, his fan base rivals some of the top names in the sport,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “To anyone who has met him, the reason for that is clear: Malcolm Smith is synonymous with everything positive about motorcycling — fun, sportsmanship, and excitement. He will serve as an exceptional Grand Marshal at this year’s AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days as we celebrate the brand on which he became famous: Husqvarna.”
Added Husqvarna National Sales and Marketing Manager Scot Harden: “When it came to honoring a Grand Marshal at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, Malcolm Smith was the obvious choice. We look forward to celebrating the storied history of Husqvarna with Malcolm, as well as a large number of other past Husqvarna legends and champions on July 9-11.”
Smith says he’s looking forward to meeting fans and enjoying the activities himself at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days.
“I was last at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days three years ago and had a wonderful time,” Smith said. “I particularly liked walking around the large field where they sell all the old bike parts, buying a truckload and then figuring out how to get it all back to California. I’m spoiled. I like to ride new bikes, but I really enjoy working on old motorcycles. I work on them every day.”
Smith said that he remembers the day he was introduced to Husqvarna motorcycles like it was yesterday.
“When Edison Dye brought me the bike, we laid out a track and some trail that went up into the hills,” Smith said. “When I came back from that ride, I said, ‘Mr. Dye, you have yourself a rider.’ The bike was so far ahead of anything else available at the time, and so reliable.”
Following his encounter with Dye, Smith’s success and influence wasn’t limited to the track. Smith’s positive evaluation of those first Husqvarnas also persuaded Dye to become the U.S. Husqvarna importer in 1966. That decision paved the way for Dye to bring in reigning Swedish world motocross champion Torsten Hallman to race the bikes in the United States. Not only did that move further advertise the quality and speed of Husqvarnas and help Dye sell a lot of motorcycles, but it also established the sport of motocross on American soil.
In his role as grand marshal, Smith will participate in numerous fan-friendly activities, from autograph signings to discussions of his history with Husqvarna. This will be a rare and unique opportunity for Smith’s thousands of fans to meet and greet the off-road legend.
As a racer, Smith gained fame for his accomplishments in the Baja 1000 and for his gold-medal-winning rides in the International Six Day Enduro competitions, but his notoriety reached well beyond the motorcycling community as the star of the influential 1970s motorcycle movie, “On Any Sunday.” The scenes of Smith play-riding with his buddies, which included popular actor Steve McQueen, showed people across the country just how fun motorcycling could be. The movie helped launch an explosion in the popularity of off-road motorcycling in America.
Held at the world-class Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days features vintage and post-vintage competition in motocross, trials, hare scrambles, roadracing and dirt track, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days features North America’s largest motorcycle swap meet. Also on tap: educational seminars, bike shows, demo rides of current production bikes, motorcycling seminars, stunt shows, the new product Manufacturers’ Midway, and club corrals featuring marque and regional clubs.
Proceeds from AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days benefit the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. The goal of the AMA Hall of Fame, located on the campus of the American Motorcyclist Association in Pickerington, Ohio, is to honor the distinguished men and women whose competitive spirit, passion, vision and entrepreneurship have played a vital role in shaping the sport, lifestyle and business of motorcycling. For more information, call (614) 856-2222, or visit the Museum’s website at MotorcycleMuseum.org.
Photo credit: www.motocrossactionmag.com