Rodney Smith started riding motorcycles in the hills of Northern California with his family in the 1960s and ’70s, and his first race was at age 13 at Sand Hill in Brentwood. From there, he blossomed into a local motocross standout and then an international contender. Smith accepted an offer to race in Brazil in 1985 and won five Brazilian national championships. He then moved to the world level and finished third in the 1988 Fédération Internationale de Moocyclisme 250cc World Motocross Championships before returning to America in 1990.
Back in the United States, Smith turned his focus to off-road racing, where he became one of the most dominant riders of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Smith won 13 AMA-sanctioned national championship series, including five Grand National Cross Country titles, three AMA National Hare Scrambles titles and five AMA National Reliability Enduro Championships. He also excelled in the International Six Days Enduro, winning multiple gold medals, competing on the premier U.S. Trophy Team and twice earning top-American honors. He mainly raced wearing number 31 on his jersey.