Dirt Cover stars: Luke Smith
Luke "Moto" Smith graced the cover of Dirt Magazine twice, issue #19 and issue #30.
We caught up with Luke and he tells us about the Power Rangers, Crusty Demons and of course that horrific crash.
Issue #19 Jan/Feb 2000. The caption: "SkyWalker Luke Smith kicks out one of this issue's test bikes, a Saracen X-Ess." Photo:Geoff Waugh
Issue #30 Nov/Dec 2001. The Caption: "Luke Smith the day after the Plymouth Biker-X." Photo:Paul Bliss
You had two Dirt covers issue # 19 back in Jan 2000 and issue #30 in Dec 2010, remember those good old days?!
Yeah I sure do, they were amazing times. BSX was just starting, new riders were making the choice between the Moto Gear and the old blood still running the one piece spray on stuff, ha ha. But great times. There was a war on when we used to head over to the BMX trails ( not sure if that still happens today) and we used to say; "don’t ban us for being on mountain bikes, ban us if we can’t ride" then when they gave us a chance to they could see we could actually hit shit up big.
Then the next thing we knew you were gone…what was the story behind the move to New Zealand and the switch to Freestyle MX?
All the magazines said I had a "Moto" style or Luke Smith is "Moto" and I was. I loved racing mountain bikes don’t get me wrong but I also loved the Crusty Video riders like Deegan, Twitch, Seth, how they filled stadiums etc.
So my parents moved to New Zealand and I stayed in the UK. I just got hooked up for racing mountain bikes, and living without a family at friends houses, never really having a base took its toll, I lasted 5 years but decided to give New Zealand ago.
When I first moved to New Zealand I was just starting out with motocross and I was blown away by the amount of riding spots. You would meet someone at the track and they would be “you should come ride at mine" I would get there and they would have a full mototrack and super-x track.
So I would ride almost every day after I finished work, and started building a ramp at a friend’s property. The tricks came quickly and I figured if I could do tricks on a DMR and only have a split second and had pedals that moved, jumping 40ft in the air and having almost four seconds of hang time I had forever to pull of these tricks. I just had to work out what I was doing in regards to the gears clutch etc but that came with time on the bike.
Then one day when I was at work (working as a roofer and hating it) I got a random call from a stunt agency and they wanted to give me a trial for an American TV show that was being filmed here, I went along showed them what I could do and got the role. I rang my boss instantly and said I quit, I was going to be a stunt man.
It turned out the TV show was the Power Rangers. I double for the guy that when he wasn’t a power ranger in the series he raced motocross and did freestyle. But yes, I also played various different Rangers in their one piece suits and a few monsters in all the bike stunts you see.
But working as a Power ranger 3 days a week meant I could ride my ramp the rest of the week and when was working on set I was riding also, so my level moved up very quickly.
Then after touring the country on the weekends doing shows we heard the Crusty Demons live show was coming to Auckland, we were so pumped, and then to top it off they wanted some local content to fill the show so they picked me and another rider to fill the spots. I was blown away. I was getting to ride in a show in front of 34,000 people with riders I had looked up to for years.
A few weeks after the show the promoter gave me a call and said he and many of the riders was very impressed with how I rode and asked me to join the world tour, as they had the Australian leg of the tour starting in a few weeks.
I jumped at the chance and the rest is history I toured with them for just over 5 years and became great friends with all the guys I looked up to Bubba especially, as we shared an apartment many of times on tour.
Then you had that really big smash, what happened and are you fully healed up now?
Yeah I sure did, I was out practicing for our next tour which was starting in just over a week. I went to hit a regular ramp jump set at 75ft as I hit the ramp a stone flicked up and into the front wheel locking the front brake disc just after I had left the ramp. This sent me flying over the handlebars to the tip of the down ramp head first and into the ground hard. When my head hit the ground it sounded like a watermelon exploding, my head hit the ground so hard that when people came to see if I was ok. I was lying face down on the ground with my helmet in over 6 pieces scattered around me. My helmet had been ripped of me and my head completely.
I was knocked out and no way was anyone waking me up, for around 15-20 minutes I laid knocked out until I came around and started having "Seashores" on the ground until I was helicopter out of there with a suspected huge head injury. I spent 8 days in intensive care then 5 ½ months in a brain injury hospital. With the head injury I sustained after being knocked out for close to half hour, the staff there really wondered on how the hell I was still alive.
In that time I had to re-learn to walk remember who I was, so many things, the last two years have been an uphill battle with rehab 4 days a week and constant hospital appointments.
But to their surprise I am almost 100% and I am so thankful I can now walk and talk as I used to and you would never know that two years ago I almost died.
When drifting goes wrong.
What’s an average day in the life of Luke Smith like these days, what do you get up to?
An average day for Luke Smith is wake up turn on my computer check my emails see what graphics need to be designed (as I now make custom motocross graphics). Maybe spend a few hours doing that, also I run a FMX team so if we have an event on the weekend I may need to book riders flights, accommodation, meet with the stadium staff about where we will set up.
Then maybe if it’s a Friday I will load up my drift car on the trailer head out to the track and go burn some rubber.
Do you still get out on a pushbike these days?
Funny you asked that, I recently just broke out my DMR Trailstar again and contacted the guys in the UK about where to get a 24 inch wheel from as I bent mine a while back when I was learning flips on it. So it’s sat in the garage and is still there now, but hoping to hear back from them soon, or if anyone in NZ reading this can help me out drop me a line of my site www.motomayhem.co.nz (nice plug)
But I have been out on my BMX its great fitness and really good for my balance since my injury plus I am really keen to get out to the trails on my DMR over the summer and get back to how I used to ride in my youth.
What would your perfect day be?
Perfect day for me wouldn’t be much different from my usual life, after my injury and how close I came to death you realize you don’t need the big house or the flash cars you just need to be surrounded by great people. I have any amazing partner, Katy, who has been by my side through all of this. I have my family and I have some concrete friends. So a perfect day for me would just be a BBQ in the sun like any weekend, invite them all over and have a great time.
So what does the future hold for you what are your plans?
The future for Luke Smith is to grow my motocross graphics in NZ and Australia, keep supporting my partner's job as a TV presenter, and whatever role she may have to take on. Get out and play on my Trailstar, drift car and maybe the odd Moto, who knows just keep living life the way I am, be thankful and enjoy everyday like it’s going to be your last.