The man that ages like a fine wine

Rodney Smith should be considered a role model for every person who rides a dirt bike. At 40-years-young, Smith has won four GNCC titles and is inching his way towards a record tying fifth crown. If that doesn?t make you shake in your motocross boots, then chew on this ? Rodney has won half of the races this year and shut down riders nearly half his age. Apparently Mr. Smith ages like a fine wine, because he?s turned a great career into one of the most remarkable and unimaginable careers in the offroad world. We caught up with Rodney to discuss the point standings, age, and what his future will bring.

You?re almost two-thirds of a way through the GNCC series and you find yourself in the points lead. What?s the game plan from here on out to final race in Crawfordsville, Illinois?
You know, basically it?s hard to say. I want to win every race of course, but realistically I want to be on the podium at every race. Like in Pennsylvania, the course was real rocky. I could have taken chances and gone for the win, but you have to look ahead at things. You have to look at each race and see how things could play out. After the Virginia round I?ve won at every track. I always seem to come on strong the second half of the season and it?s rare that I get a good start on the first half of the season. This year was different and I?m not sure why I got off to such a good start. I?m looking forward to the rest of the season and I?m going to ride smart. The main thing every week is for me to be in the race for the win and to be a factor instead of being in the second and third group of guys. Me and Jason [Raines] and Barry [Hawk] have been in some really good racing, so as long as the racing is good that?s what I like.

At 40-years-old, how does it feel knowing that you?ve won half of the races this season?
It?s funny. The pressure was off after I won the first race this year. Once I won it was like now I have to go out and keep doing what I?ve always done. 40 really isn?t any different than being 39, it?s just a number. Besides, we [the competition] are all getting older together. Fred Andrews is like 37 or 38 and Scott Summers is also in the ballpark of that age.
For me there are really two reasons for me winning. One is motivation, because I want to go out and try to win every race. Also, I know that if I had a major injury, like a broken femur or something like that then it?d be hard to come back from. As long as I can stay healthy hopefully things will keep going well. A major setback is being off the bike for three or four months and then coming back. It?d be hard for me at my age to be able to do that. Right now I have another year or so left in me.

What do you attribute your hot streak of wins to?
I?m going to say because of two things. The new Suzuki is great and I?ve been having a lot of fun riding the bike. Also, the challenge of winning. It?s weird, because it?s like I wasn?t trying and the wins have been coming. I?d be feeling tired at the starting line and I?d tell my wife that I wasn?t feeling that great about the race. Then I?d go out and put in the charge of my life!

Speaking of age, you have a 10-point lead over a rider nearly half your age in Jason Raines. Should the tagline for the series be, ?The wise and experienced versus the wily and energetic??
Probably [laughter]. That sounds about right!

You?ve said before that you really don?t keep close tabs on the point standings until it comes down to crunch time. When is crunch time for you?
Yeah, I don?t look at the point standings until it comes down to the last couple of races. Right now I couldn?t even tell you the points gap between second and third or anything like that. I just go to each race and do the best that I can do.

You?ve been riding Suzuki for quite a while now and you typically sign two-year deals to ride for the factory team. Where do you stand on contract negotiations and are you planning on racing another two years?
I have one more year left on my contract, so I?ll make my decision at the end of next year. I don?t know where I?m headed. There?s a rumor going around that I might start doing some Supermoto. I went riding a couple of weeks ago with Kevin Schwantz and had a great time. Suzuki has told me that they?re air freighting new bikes over and Kevin and myself are going to be on the Supermoto team next year. So I might do the Supermoto series and some GNCC races, or I might do the entire GNCC series.

Hypothetically, if you win the GNCC title this year, wouldn?t you want to return and race all of next season?
I would, yeah, but sooner or later I have to quit. I don?t know yet.

Are you the king of the offroad world?
No, I haven?t ever looked at myself that way. I don?t know if that?s a good thing or a bad thing. I still look up to all the other riders and say, ?Gosh I wish I was as good as them.? In reality I might be as good as them, but I don?t look at myself as being a better rider than them. There are times when that could be a bad trait because sometimes I?m really hard on myself if I don?t do well. I respect Scott Summers, Ty Davis, and Mike Kiedrowski for all that they?ve done and accomplished.

Thank you, Rodney. Good luck the rest of the season and we?ll be talking to you.
Thank you very much.


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