Malcolm Smith Discusses Autobiography Prior to Release

 
 
"I'm very happy and proud to have helped Malcolm Smith, both with racing and getting started in the business," said K&N Filters co-founder Norm McDonald about his lifelong friend.
"I'm very happy and proud to have helped Malcolm Smith, both with racing and getting started in the business," said K&N Filters co-founder Norm McDonald about his lifelong friend.
"Actually, I should have called it 'The Whole Story,'" Malcolm Smith writes, "Because this is it, from my early years, to my racing career, to 'On Any Sunday,' to my various businesses and charities, to my wonderful family and friends. I've often thought about doing an autobiography, but now seems to be the right time. I've just turned 72, and I've got more perspective than ever... so here we go!

In 1971, a computer tape producer posed the question "Is it live or is it Memorex?" Billboard Magazine's Year-End Hot 100 single was "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night. The Pittsburgh Pirates ruled as World Series Champions that year, and if you were riding motorcycles, dreaming about riding, or even knew someone who did, Bruce Brown's "On Any Sunday" was your sacred movie. When it debuted to the public at the characteristically ornate Fox Theater in Westwood, California, hundreds of people waited for hours in the carnival atmosphere line that kept steadily growing outside. Then once inside, the blissfully rowdy, motorcycle savvy crowd reacted to every scene change as though it was a revival meeting. Which in a sense it was, being that it was the first honest motorcycle movie ever made. It became an instant classic right there and then.

On Any Sunday featured cinematic legend and motorsports ambassador Steve McQueen, but it was the co-star Malcolm Smith, with his super-natural two-wheel talent and modest "Aw-shucks" demeanor that stole the movie. Who will ever forget that ear-to-ear grin his helmet could barely contain. A trademark smile that beamed broader the faster he rode. At times it appeared as though he was immune to the burdensome laws of physics, as he floated ethereally across the harshest topography on earth, more times than not miles ahead of second place.
These days Norm McDonald (left) and Malcom Smith (right) still get together as often as time permits
These days Norm McDonald (left) and Malcom Smith (right) still get together as often as time permits


In the off-road racing world Smith was already a celebrity, but the notoriety that followed the movie elevated him to mystical status. Born in British Columbia, Canada, but raised in Southern California, Smith was thirteen-years-old when he scraped together enough money to purchase his first motorcycle, a 1954 Lambretta scooter, which now sits in the Malcolm Smith Motorsports Museum. Smith quickly outgrew the scooter and moved on to a 1949 Matchless G80, on which he tasted his first victory. "After that first race, it was all downhill," jokes Smith about the start of his incredible racing career.
Early in his career Malcom Smith rode a Greeves, built by a British motorcycle manufacturer producing motorcycles mainly for the off-road market
Early in his career Malcom Smith rode a Greeves, built by a British motorcycle manufacturer producing motorcycles mainly for the off-road market


In 1966 Smith celebrated his first international successes, earning a silver medal at the International Six Day Trials (ISDT) and he won the first ever Baja 1000 the very next year. Smith is in fact a six-time winner of Baja 1000 – three times on a motorcycle and three times in a car. He is a four-time winner of the Baja 500, a two-time winner of the Mint 400, and a two-time winner of the Roof of Africa Rally. As a tune-up for the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1987, he won the Rallye de l'Atlas in Morocco in an off-road buggy.

Smith was virtually unstoppable during his reign, winning eight gold medals between 1966 and 1976 in the ISDT. This was a European cross-country event considered by most to be the Olympics of motorcycling.

Recovering from a damaging motorcycle accident in 1974, Smith indulged his hankering for racing four-wheeled vehicles. He immediately jumped into one of the most notoriously challenging world class off-road events, the 22-day Paris-Dakar Rally in Northern Africa. "The most miserable piece of work an off-road racer will ever see," he remarked at the time. Smith and his navigator, Alain Fieuw, piloted their specially prepared Range Rover to a fourth-place finish – the highest ever for an American at that time.

Born with a fascination and a gift for mechanical things, interestingly one of the most accomplished off-road racers in history nearly missed his appointment with destiny, had it not been for K&N's co-founder Norm McDonald.

"I was going to college to be aircraft mechanic until 2:00 pm each day and then I went to Flabob Airport and restored old airplanes for Frank Talman until 11:00 pm," Smith reveals. "I needed the money so I could race on weekends. I raced a Matchless 600 single then."

"One Sunday, at Prado Park TT track, I pitted next to Norm and Kenny. I was maybe ten years younger than they were, but we got along well and started to pit together at races. They were partners in K&N motorcycles. This was before air filters. I was a good mechanic and Norm kept trying to hire me. Finally he had a serious talk with me. He said you really love motorcycles, not airplanes, and he wanted me to work for them. He said I would be service manager and I would be paid $5.00 an hour. That was good money in those days. I thought about it, and I really did love motorcycles, so I said yes. Now I still had to tell my parents I was going to be motorcycle mechanic though."

"Later, I became a partner with them, and when K&N filters got going good, I bought K&N motorcycles from them. It was around 1970 when I named it Malcolm Smith's K&N Motorcycles. Then after On Any Sunday came out, I renamed it Malcolm Smith Motorcycles. If it had not been for Norm saying I really loved motorcycles, I might be selling Airplanes."
Norm McDonald, his wife Lucy, and Malcom Smith recently posed for a picture at Malcolm Smith Motorsports
Norm McDonald, his wife Lucy, and Malcom Smith recently posed for a picture at Malcolm Smith Motorsports


In 2009, Malcolm Smith Motorsports was named "Number One Dealer in the Country" by Dealernews Magazine. Smith had once again won gold. Married since 1984 to Joyce, the Smith's have four children, two sons and two daughters, all of whom enjoy riding motorcycles. Joyce shares the ownership responsibilities and was largely responsible for the design and layout of the new award winning dealership.

Forever moving forward, Smith's newest endeavor is Malcolm Smith Adventures, Inc., which was inspired by the countless requests for him to lead motorcyclists on tours of the Baja peninsula. With the help and advice of Joyce, he introduced "Malcolm's Seven Days of Baja." To date this annual charity event has contributed nearly $300,000 to their orphanage in Valle Trinidad in Baja, Mexico.

"When we began at El Oasis, the first children to arrive were small, ages two through four years old. Today those children are 12 and15 years old, and El Oasis is home to around 50 children," says Malcom Smith. "And we are making arrangements to fund another home for even more children, all fully funded by the Motorsport community!"

On Friday October 18, during the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends Weekend at the Las Vegas' Green Valley Resort & Casino, it is Smith that will introduce Norm McDonald as he becomes an elite member of the Class of 2013 officially being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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K&N Engineering in Riverside California is the world's leading manufacturer of washable performance air filters and air intake systems. K&N invented the reusable high flow cotton air filter in 1969 and has been perfecting the technology ever since. K&N is a world class filtration company selling air filters, oil filters, and intakes in over 30 countries. K&N sells over 5,000 products designed for cars, trucks, motorcycles, engines, and industrial applications. From their Million Mile Warranty to their Consumer Protection Pledge, K&N stands behind their products and their consumers 100%. The distinctive K&N logo represents performance from one of the original performance companies. For more information, visit knfilters.com.

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