International Six Days Enduro veteran Ben Smith talks about injury, Team USA, and having fun.
Twenty-five year old Ben Smith raced his first enduro when he was just fifteen years old. Racers were required to have a driver’s license already, but Ben managed to slip into the entry field, anyway. Ten years later, Ben is still playing by his own rules
Ben started riding dirt bikes when he was four, and becoming an enduro racer was as much about his interests as it was his genes. “It’s a family thing. My grandpa raced when he was younger and then both of my uncles were big into racing,” Ben explains, adding that one of his uncles was even on the world enduro team in 1991.
Typically, Ben can be found on the East Coast Enduro Association circuit, riding his KTM 250 XCF. The thing that really gets the Great Meadows, New Jersey, resident excited, though, is the International Six Days Enduro.
The ISD Enduro is an annual event that puts enduro riders through a series of competitive events, testing man and machine. Held since 1913, success at the ISD Enduro gives riders plenty of prestige and bragging rights.
Ben, who was on the Junior World Trophy team in 2007 and 2008, took an ISD Enduro silver medal in both of those years. “It’s like the Olympics of enduro racing. I’ve been a member of Team USA five times. My first one was when I was 17,” Ben says.
Those events haven’t always ended well for Ben. In 2011, when the ISD Enduro was held in Finland, Ben competed despite severe back pains. It turned out to be two herniated discs. Ben had surgery in October of 2011 and has eased back into racing since then.
Back injury aside, Ben considers the annual event as a high point in each year. He says, “Pretty much any time I go to the Six Days is memorable. It’s such a big event, and I have a big family history in it. It’s heartwarming to go to those races and compete at that level. They’re probably my biggest accomplishments and what I’m most proud of in racing right now.”
Ben realizes that making a career as an enduro rider is a challenge. He currently works full-time as a welder and fabricator, but he says he’d welcome the chance to make racing his career. Regardless, Ben says, “I just want to ride my motorcycle. Winning is great, but having fun is really important for me.”
Having fun means continuing to race, instructing at racing schools, and doing a little mountain biking in his rare free time. As his back continues to mend, Ben can look forward to more international enduro competition.