Rodney Smith was on a roll. The motocross star turned off-roader had overcome the stigma of being a west-coast guy trying to compete in a land dominated by east of Mississippi talent. Mike Webb from Team Suzuki Off-road got the idea of hiring  Rodney when Mike and brother Tom raced a Qualifier in Minden, Nevada. In Mike’s words “He was a couple of rows in front of me, I didn’t know who he was but he stood out because he was in Bieffe gear and was on what looked like a stock RM. Then he kicked everybody’s ass  in the final moto after crashing with LR, he put his head down and came all the way back to pass Steve Hatch for the win.  I was blown away!” Remember, he had the multi-time National Enduro champion in Randy Hawkins and Steve Hatch on his team, but Webb felt that the off-road racing arena was changing and GNCC racing was the new stage. By 2002 Rodney had already won three GNCC championships for Suzuki and showed the world that a guy from California can win back east. This shot is from the Wisp, a new event held at Deep Creek, Maryland. It was a ski resort in the winter and had incredible terrain for a GNCC. It was rocky, snotty and hilly and in ’02 Rodney, Jason Raines and Mike Lafferty were at the top of their games. This is Rodney holding the lead over Raines (far right) and Mike Lafferty, who had switched from his KTM 2-stroke to a big thumper. Rodney went on to win the event and the championship for the fourth time.
Here’s Rodney’s 2002 RM250. FMF was their main sponsor and Webb helped to fund his team (pay the riders!) with strong outside sponsors. FMF was with the team until it was disbanded.

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