Hall of Fame News

Happy Birthday, Malcolm Smith!

March 9, 2022

By Mitch Boehm

AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer and motorcycling legend Malcolm Smith turns 81 years of age today, and as we all smile and nod our heads and think back to ‘Ol’ Malcolm’ in Bruce Brown’s classic On Any Sunday documentary, we don’t think of an older gentleman in his 80s struggling with Parkinson’s, or someone suffering with the effects of three handfuls of severe and debilitating injuries over the years.

Nope, we think of the one and only Malcolm Smith standing around after that amazing Elsinore Grand Prix win, with dirt and bugs and that big ol’ grin plastered on his face as he talks with fans and friends and his buddy Steve “Harvey Mushman” McQueen. Or of Malcolm spinning donuts in slow-motion on the beach in the movie’s final scenes.

For many of us, Malcolm’s visage is a throwback, a two-wheeled port-key, a window on our own youth and of our own discovery of this insanely fun and constantly fascinating world of motorcycles. Malcolm does that to us because he’s more than just a motorcycle racer and a heckuva nice guy. He’s motorcycling’s own time-machine man.

Malcolm Smith childhood
Malcolm Smith as a kid — and Cub Scout — back in the 1940s.

A year ago this month in our magazine’s pages we celebrated with Malcolm as he turned 80, and it wasn’t a particularly easy cover story to write or produce. The guy was hurting and a bit frail and not at all himself thanks to Parkinson’s medications, all those old injuries (including being run over by a golf cart, which broke his pelvis) and, most recently, a severe bout with pneumonia.

But as he’s done seemingly his whole life, beginning with his first major injury (breaking his upper and lower leg so badly doctors wanted to amputate) that forced him into a body cast and kept him off his feet for the better part of a year, Malcolm has rebounded, and just keeps on keeping on…working on his UTVs in his garage, playing with his grandchildren and traveling to a vacation home on the ocean down in Baja and watching whales from his watercraft with wife Joyce.


Malcolm Smith and his wife Joyce with AMA Hall of Famer Bruce Brown
Malcolm Smith and his wife Joyce with AMA Hall of Famer Bruce Brown.

Like Malcolm, a lot of us are getting older, and dealing with all the “fun” stuff that six, seven or eight decades bring. But seeing him fighting the good fight and pushing through the challenges and pain is, for many of us, comforting and inspiring. I know it is for me.

We’re supposed to give our friends something special for their birthdays. And I’m sure Malcolm is getting his fair share, given how many good friends he has. But in the way I just mentioned, Malcolm is giving back to all motorcyclists, and for that we should all be thankful.

So thanks, Malcolm. And Happy 81st Birthday to you! Here’s wishing you many more to come.

Malcolm Smith