Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Malcolm on it - MORE ** UPDATE

Thanks to Sideburn subscriber Brad P in California for explaining that this great pic of Malcolm Smith was taken during the 1971 Baja 1000, though as yet we still haven’t pinned down the photographer. This set me off on a trail to find out more and it seems that the image was used in 2007 by Dunlop as one in a series of part advertising campaign, part celebration of Dunlop-shod champions. Such was the campaign’s popularity that posters were made available, with proceeds going to the Clayton Memorial Foundation charity.

As Brad also pointed out, there’s a good story behind the race, that we’ve tracked down as having first appeared in American Motorcyclist, May 2007, when Malcolm Smith was interviewed by Ken Vreek:

Smith: For that race, Husqvarna was really proud of its new 450 Desert Master, and they sent us one brand new. It was apparent pretty quickly that the bike was slow. It didn’t have the power to pull the gaps between the wide-ratio transmission.

We called the factory and they told us to raise the exhaust port, and we did that, but it was still slow. We realized it was hopeless, so we went back to their standard 450 and put an eight-speed kit in it. We finished doing the work the evening before the race, and broke the bike in riding down the freeway from Tijuana to Ensenada. We barely made it to impound the morning before the race.

When we ultimately wound up winning the race, we got a message from the factory saying, ‘Congratulations, and isn’t the new 450 Desert Master wonderful?’

Well, we had to tell them the truth, that we had won it on their


Hi, recognised the action shot of Malcom Smith – yes, he is definitely “on it”.

The story of Husqvarna in the USA actually began at the 1966 ISDT, held in Sweden, when German bikes failed to turn up for the US team and the Swedish manufacturer on short notice supplied the whole team with Huskies, leaving the race preparation to the riders themselves. I remember seeing a laughing Bud Ekins wrapping up inner tubes and securing them to his bike and how Malcolm Smith later won the road race bit on the final day, looking good and still sporting those old-fashioned boots. This particular photo is probably from Baja and the photographer must have been one of the regulars appearing at the time in Cycle World. I have the magazine (I'm sure) but can't be bothered right now to go down into the basement. But will, for a beer...
Anyway, the 1966 ISDT opened the door for the Swedish bikes, first in California. Eventually, Husqvarna actually opened an office in California, but it all started at the 1966 ISDT, when Husqvarna was an unkown quantity in the US offroad scene. Edison Dye came in after this.


Motorcycho said...

I have the picture/poster hanging at my work


Nick said...

Fascinating stuff

Mick P said...

Very nice addition - thanks Jan. By the way, anyone who's never read Jan's book 'The MZ Racers' should do so. I lent mine out years ago and never got it back, which still ANNOYS ME.