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Paul Smart

Paul Smart
1943-2021

Motorcycle dealer (1974-1998) and works road racer (1970-1974) Paul Smart died on 27 October in a road accident at Flimwell, East Sussex, on his Ducati Monster. He was 78. The accident involving a car is under police investigation.

As a boy Smart lived near Brands Hatch race circuit, Kent, and took up road racing in 1965 (125 Bultaco). He scored his first win there (125 Honda) that year and went on to become a works rider for Triumph, Kawasaki, Ducati and Suzuki.

His hallmark riding style was knee-out, almost to an exaggerated degree. It worked. He tamed some of the fastest, most wayward handling three-cylinder two-stroke projectiles in motorcycle race history.

His greatest victory was Italy’s inaugural 1972 Imola 200-mile race, created as a European version of the glamorous Daytona 200-mile race in America. On a 750 Ducati V-twin, he put Ducati on the big bike map. Previously Ducati was a small-capacity motorcycle manufacturer.

The win was so significant that Ducati honoured it by introducing the limited-edition Paul Smart 1000 LE V-twin (2000 examples) in 2005. Smart attended the launch in Italy.

Fun-loving and easy to get along with, Smart was a popular rider who married Barry Sheene’s sister Maggie in 1971. That year he scored second places at world championship level (250 and 350 Yamahas) and was equal top points scorer (750 Triumph-3) in the inaugural three-round Anglo-American Match Race series. He was UK team captain in 1973 and 1974.

In 1974 he broke both legs in an accident at Mallory Park. That year he became a motorcycle dealer in partnership with Roy Francis. They had been in the same class at school in Maidstone and were fellow road racers, Francis racing between 1961-1969.

They took over Chisholms of Maidstone, Kent’s first Honda dealer. This was a success, Smart and Francis being in Honda’s top 20 dealer list for several years.

The partnership worked well, Smart’s fame attracting customers and Francis’s mechanical and admin skills anchoring the business.

Looking to expand they joined forces with Trevor Springett at Paddock Wood, Kent, in 1976, later taking over completely as a Kawasaki centre, and then adding Bultaco, Fantic, Montesa, JCM and Hinckley Triumph from 1991. They were one of the first to sign with Triumph and the link was a success from the start.

In 1978 Smart decided to retire from road racing to concentrate on the business. In 1984 he and Francis took over Karl Pugh Motorcycles in Tenterden, Kent, selling Suzuki and Puch.

Now up to three motorcycle centres the partners decided to centralise by first closing Tenterden and then Maidstone. Moving all stock to Paddock Wood in 1993 under the Paul Smart Ltd banner.

In 1998 Motorcycle City made an offer for the business. Smart, who rode motorcycles all his life, was initially reluctant to let go, but decided the time was right after all.

He then concentrated on hobbies including sailing, kayaking, windsurfing and riding his collection of motorcycles. He maintained close links with the bike world, attending shows and events in the UK and Europe and acting as an ambassador for Ducati.

A high-profile key player in the burgeoning glamour period of 750 racing in the 1970s, Paul Smart leaves his wife Maggie, daughter Paula and son Scott, a former GP and BSB rider and 1997 British 250 champion.

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