BLAST FROM THE PAST: Rodney Smith nearly wins his rookie ISDE

Back in 1992 Rodney Smith had little fanfare as a motocross star despite finishing third in the 250cc MXGP title chase in 1988 riding for Chesterfield Suzuki. Rodney had returned to the U.S. in 1990 following his MXGP assault and a 5-year Brazilian stint where won five Brazilian national championships. In 1991 he rode the AMA National Motocross series with some help from American Suzuki. But it was at this point that he was burned out on moto and looking for a change of scenery. Rodney’s family had always enjoyed off-road riding and his Dad and brother raced the Northern California District D36 Enduro series. Rodney spent his youth on the trails of Nor Cal and after his moto career he decided to enter a couple of high profile off road events. It was at the Minden, Nevada ISDE qualifier that Rodney rocked the off-road world by handedly winning the event. He backed this up when he won the Virginia City GP, straight up trouncing the undefeated Larry Roeseler. Dave Bertram contacted Mike Webb at American Suzuki (who had just taken over American Suzuki’s off-road program) and discussed the idea of putting Rodney on the U.S. Trophy team for the upcoming 1992 ISDE in Australia. Rod liked the idea and Suzuki prepped a bike and sent him to Oz. Rodney would shock the off-road world when he came incredibly close to winning the overall event, battling with Giovanni Sala, eventually finishing second in class and fourth overall. Upon his return Suzuki’s Mike Webb signed Rodney to race for Suzuki Off Road (his first hire) and this led to a Hall of Fame off-road career.

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