Smith's first raced in 1956 atop a 1949 Matchless 500cc motorcycle. Later, he was associated with Husqvarna motorcycles. His renown grew as he won races in the 1960s and 1970s. Smith won eight gold medals between 1966 and 1976 in the International Six Day Trial, the European cross-country event.
He is a six-time winner of the Baja 1000, three times on a motorcycle and three times in a car; a four time winner of the Baja 500; has twice won the Mint 400 in Nevada and the Roof of Africa Rallye; participated in the Paris Dakar Rally twice; and was the overall winner of the Atlas Rallye in the mountains of Morocco.
Following his racing career, Smith began developing tools and riding gear with an emphasis on quality and durability. Malcolm Smith Gold Medal Products later became Malcolm Smith Racing (later MSR). MSR was eventually purchased by Tucker Rocky Distributing. He currently operates a motorsports dealership in Riverside, CA.
Smith's talent on two wheels earned him a starring role in Bruce Brown's classic motorcycle documentary, On Any Sunday, alongside screen legend Steve McQueen and American Motorcyclist Association Grand National Champion Mert Lawwill. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 1972 for Best Documentary Feature.
Smith’s combination of blinding speed and down-to-earth charm appealed to audiences, earning him folk-hero status and a devoted following. He continued to appear in motion pictures, including Naturally Free (1975), Dirt (1979), and On Any Sunday II (1981). Recently, Malcolm was featured in the 2005 Baja 1000 documentary hit, Dust to Glory, co-starring Mario Andretti and Robby Gordon.
In 2000, Smith created a non-profit foundation dedicated to giving back to Mexico, the land where his name was made as a racing champion. Every year, Smith hosts a 6-day charity ride to raise money for his schools and orphanages.