English rider Paul Smart enjoyed a highly successful and diverse career racing many brands of motorcycles and is credited with kick starting the modern racing era for Ducati.
Starting out in the mid 1960’s riding at his local track – Brands Hatch in Kent – Smart first rode a Spanish Bultaco that proved fast but unreliable. A 125cc Honda for the 1966 season followed paired with a 250cc Cotton with Smart winning the MCN 250 Championship, the Mallory Park Stars of Tomorrow event and entering his first Isle of Man TT.
His roster of machines ridden in the 1960’s included Greeves and Aermacchi singles plus Norton twins before the chance to ride Triumph Tridents garnered success in the 1971 Transatlantic Trophy series as second highest points scorer. Smart entered the 1971 250 and 350cc world Championship riding Yamahas ending fifth overall in the larger class while a young Barry Sheene took second spot in the 125cc class. That same year, Smart married Sheene’s sister, Maggie.
Aged 29 in 1972 Smart won the Imola 200 on a 750cc L twin Ducati, a feat that many judge as the impetus for the Italian firm’s subsequent investment and success in racing – even spawning a replica road machine in 2006.
1973 saw Smart astride the water-cooled TR750 suzuki captaining the winning UK team in the Transatlantic Trophy while the lure of the USA drew him Stateside to ride the Kawasaki H2R.
In the late 1970’s Smart retired to oversee a chain on motorcycle businesses and develop other business interests. Across his entire career, Paul Smart had no manager and negotiated all his deals personally; a remarkable feat given the array of machinery, manufacturers, countries, and championships he competed in.
Tough on track and tough in business, Smart passed away at the age of 78 in a motorcycle accident riding near his Kent home in October 2021.
issued: Tuesday, February 21, 2023
updated: Monday, March 06, 2023
link to this page: