MXA PRODUCT TEST:
MARTY SMITH: AMERICA'S MOTOCROSS LEGEND
WHAT IS IT? An in-depth DVD that chronicles the life of one of America’s most famous motocross stars.
WHAT’S IT COST? $29.95 (plus S&H).
WHAT’S IT DO? The biggest problem facing archival film historians is finding authentic footage to help them tell the story. They often must work with a few scraps of grainy film. That was not a problem for the makers of “Marty Smith: America’s Motocross Legend.” The Smiths were the tightest-knit family in motocross history. With their trusty 8mm Bell & Howell camera, they recorded virtually every event in young Marty’s life. There is footage of Marty’s first ride on a motorcycle, Marty’s first-ever race at Carlsbad in 1972, Marty’s first National race and Marty’s first visit to Japan. The only thing that isn’t shown in “Marty Smith: America’s Motocross Legend” is wedding footage of Marty and Nancy’s wedding (yes, they are still married).
For those who don’t know, Marty Smith was the most famous American motocrosser of the ’70s. With his long hair, dark suntan, chiseled features and bulging muscles, Marty was what motocross needed in its formative years: a hero for teenagers to admire. It didn’t hurt that he was blazing fast. In an era when the motorcycle industry sold one million dirt bikes a year (as opposed to 100,000 today), Marty Smith’s image was everywhere. The three-time AMA National Champion was the sport’s first and only teen idol.
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that stand out with “Marty Smith: America’s Motocross Legend.”
(1) History. Regardless of whether you are a history nut, vintage racer or a diehard fan of Marty Smith, this DVD shows you what the sport was really like in the ’70s. For sharp-eyed viewers, there are memory-inducing shots of long-gone race tracks like Arroyo, Puyallup and Saddleback, along with glimpses of motocross machinery that can now only be seen in museums. There is even a shot of a very young Marty Smith riding his Stingray bicycle in the street with MG’s and other classic cars parked along the curb. Those cars would bring millions at Jackson-Barret today.
(2) Cinematography. We admired the camera work of “The Great Outdoors” (Troy Adamitis) and the editing skills of “The Motocross Files” (Todd Huffman), but nothing can beat the cinema verité style of Marty Smith’s dad. The old home movies ring with authenticity.
(3) Length. There are two-parts to “Marty Smith: America’s Motocross Legend.” First is the 45-minute long biography (replete with interviews with Marty, Tommy Croft, Dave Arnold, Bob Hannah and Mom and Dad). This is followed by a 33-minute conversation between Marty Smith and old rival Bob Hannah. As always, the Hurricane steals the show with his no-holds-barred view of motocross stardom. Just listening to Hannah pontificate on the hiring and firing of a factory rider is something every aspiring pro should hear.
WHAT'S THE SQUAWK? If you were around during Marty Smith’s racing career (1972-1983), you are in your 40s today. That means that this film’s natural audience is a little old to still be idolizing David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman or Marty Smith. Thankfully, motocross history belongs to all of us, young and old. Every racer would benefit from seeing an accurate representation of the sport’s Golden Years.
“Marty Smith: America’s Motocross Legend” gets five-stars because our sport has only had a handful of riders who have transcended the sport. Marty Smith is just such a man.
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