[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here are some truly iconic images that define motorcycling. The little woodshed where Harley-Davidson was launched back in 1903 resonates with the V-twin crowd; the shot of Rollie Free stretched flat-out on his Vincent on the Bonneville Salt Flats wearing little more than his underwear rings true for speed demons to this day; Marlon Brando in his black leather jacket on his Triumph still defines rebellious bikers… the list goes on. But for generations of riders, Malcolm Smith is the source of all defining images.
Nobody this side of Sochiro Honda did more to put Americans on motorcycles than the collaborative effort of Malcolm Smith, Mert Lawwill, the late Steve McQueen and film maker Bruce Brown in On Any Sunday. However, that seminal movie is just one chapter in the new book, Malcolm! The Autobiography.
“I’ve done a lot in my 74 years,” Malcolm says. “I even managed to remember a lot of it despite falling on my head a few times!” This is an understatement… Malcolm’s memory is borderline photographic and he can still tell you the weather conditions, tricky sections of trail, the bike he was on, and intricate details from races decades ago. Now he is sharing his incredible memories with everyone.
After two years of work, Malcolm Smith’s long-awaited autobiography is finished and ALREADY ON SALE, just in time for the AIMExpo. A true confession from Motorcyclist magazine’s “Motorcyclist of the Century” – he is a closet scooter rider! “It’s true, I learned to ride on an old Lambretta scooter. and I still have it to this day.”
“I was a rotten kid,” Malcolm Smith readily admits. “I used to terrorize the neighborhood on my Lambretta! I would try to get the old guys to chase me.” By ‘old guys,’ Malcolm meant the local outlaw biker club. “I’m not proud of it, I really was a rotten kid,” he says with his infectious grin.
From his early days along Canada’s Pacific coast, to his childhood in San Bernardino, California, to his first bikes – he moved up to a Matchless G80 from his infamous Lambretta when he started racing – his racing efforts in the U.S., Baja, Europe and Asia, to his business life, the iconic movie On Any Sunday and his family life, it’s all here. Saturated with personal storytelling, rich in detail, and containing many never-before-seen photographs from Malcolm’s personal archives.
“It took us a while to finish the book,” says Malcolm. “But better late then never, right?” So how is it? “I’m biased, but it’s really, really good!” Who are we to second guess the Motorcyclist of the Century?
For the 400-page, 11 x 11-inch hardbound book, Malcolm teamed up with longtime motojournalist Mitch Boehm, a 30-year industry veteran who edited Motorcyclist for 15 years, and who also worked at Cycle World and American Honda.
“It was a fascinating project,” says Boehm. “Malcolm and I would talk about a period of his life, with my recorder going the whole time. Later, I’d transcribe what Malcolm had said, and weave it all together. Then we’d go over it together, making sure it was just right.”
“There’s a lot here,” adds Malcolm. “Ten chapters, more than 100,000 words worth of stories, and hundreds of photographs, many of them never seen before.” There is also some incredible candor, according to industry insiders who have seen the manuscript. The man who did it all really does tell all!
Many of us never forgot those celluloid images of Malcolm in El Escorial, Spain, on his legendary Husky. The famous “Skunk Stripe” helmets and what it meant for racers like Malcolm to uphold American honor at the world’s toughest motorcycle race. Originally, Six Days was known as the International Six Day Trial, aptly named for six days of the toughest off-road event in the world. ISDT later became ISDE for “Enduro” – Call it what you will, nobody took upholding America’s honor at the ISDT more seriously than Malcolm. Starting with a silver medal before capturing his first ISDT Gold in Poland in 1967, he went on to win seven more, with the eighth and final Gold medal coming in 1976 in Austria.
Of course, behind every rotten kid and Six Days legend is a good woman! Joyce Smith spearheaded the whole project. “My wife Joyce organized the project and she personally scanned many of the photos that appear. I just know folks are going to love it,” Malcolm says.
“It’s an amazing book,” he adds. “I have to give credit to Todd Westover, who handled the design for us.” Of course, the image that Westover selected for the cover was obvious. Even before the seminal motorcycle movie On Any Sunday, the legend of Malcolm Smith had already been forged in the crucible of Baja. The image of Malcolm wide open on his Husky blazing across the Chapala Dry Lake on his way to winning the Baja 1000 embodies the true spirit of off-road racing! A fierce will to win combined with the joy of riding are captured in that grainy black and white image of Malcolm.
Malcolm! The Autobiography is a must-read for any motorcyclist, off-road enthusiast and off-road racers. Books have arrived at Malcolm’s store and are on sale now. Malcolm will be signing copies at AIMExpo and will be this year’s AIMExpo Show Champion. If you can’t make it to Orlando for the show, copies are available from Malcolm Smith Motorsports for $49.95. In addition, Tucker Rocky will distribute the book to dealers across the country.