Jerry Smith signed on as Features Editor at Cycle Guide in 1985 after getting fired from his previous job as Features Editor of Rider. How he got fired is an epic tale, one he’s been asked to tell many times but won’t unless he’s drunk, and he doesn’t drink, so get over it.
The first bike Smith ever rode was a three-speed Suzuki 120. The experience was both terrifying and addicting. The first bike he bought was a Kawasaki F3 Bushwhacker, a perfectly serviceable enduro bike that he immediately set about turning into a café racer, with predictably disastrous results.
That was followed by a 350cc Yamaha R5 that Smith set about turning into a roadracer, with much more success. He raced it in the American Federation of Motorcyclists for a few years, and after eluding the pitfalls of winning he acquired a TD2B, which he raced two or three times then sold, replacing it in 1974 with a brand new water-cooled TZ250.
After knocking around in the motorcycle industry for years and racing at the club and AMA National level, he answered an ad in Cycle News that resulted in moving to Southern California and taking up the aforementioned position at Rider. Although it didn’t seem like it at the time, getting booted from Rider and going to work for Cycle Guide was the best thing that could have happened to him. There he worked with genuine writers, serving under two editors who saw the craft of writing as a profession and not just an easy way to get access to new motorcycles. To this day he uses what they taught him in everything he writes.
After Cycle Guide closed Smith worked briefly at Motorcyclist before the Los Angeles commute and the too-many-rats-in-the-cage craziness of SoCal caused him to flee to southern Oregon, where he’s lived ever since, freelancing for consumer and trade motorcycle magazines and having only occasional nightmares about lane-splitting 60 miles to work every morning.
Today Smith is editor of the blog Cycle Guide Magazine, which he writes with co-conspirator Dain Gingerelli. Before CGM, Smith wrote another bog called Tread Life, which is still online.
Dain Gingerelli’s first day on the job at the original Cycle Guide in 1979 resulted in a trip to the hospital. “I flipped a Kawasaki KZ650 during 60-0 brake testing at Orange County International Raceway.” Damage to OCIR’s hallowed drag strip where the testing took place was ever so minimal; the Kaw was sent to slaughter; and Gingerelli sustained a separated left shoulder and concussion (which explains a lot about his post-crash days). “I also added a few suede-like swatches to my road-race leathers,” added Daingerous.
“Paul Dean (CG’s editor at the time) was at the track recording my quarter-mile times and logging my brake distances that day, and pretty much showing me how he wanted me to test the bikes—I was hired to be the Associate Editor, who was also the designated road-test guy. When he drove me to the hospital after the crash, neither of us was in a joyful mood. Finally, Paul broke the silence and to my amazement said, ‘I hope this doesn’t change your mind about working for us.’ I sat in stunned wide-eyed disbelief because I thought he was going to suggest that I shouldn’t quit my day job!”
Things worked out and for the next two years the Daingerous one tested a variety of bikes for Cycle Guide. “During a trip to Japan in November 1979 I became the first American to ride Suzuki’s new GS1100,” he said. “I was chasing Mitsuo Itoh around Suzuki’s test track—Ryuyo, a Japanese name that’s a real tongue-twister for many Americans—in Hamamatsu thinking how lucky I was to be doing this job. Itoh-san was a former Grand Prix road racer for Suzuki’s factory team back in the ‘60s, and he was the Isle of Man TT’s 50cc-class winner in 1963. And there I was, riding alongside him at Ryuyo.”
Other high points of his career included a few hot laps aboard Freddie Spencer’s 1980 Honda CB750F Superbike (CG, March 1981); being the first journalist to ride a factory-prepped Yamaha FZ750 Superbike (CG, June 1985); getting sideways aboard Ricky Graham’s Honda RS750 on the legendary San Jose Mile (CG, August 1985); lapping Riverside Raceway on Eddie Lawson’s 1986 500cc championship Yamaha YZR500 (CG, June 1987); and being the first industry luminary to be recognized by John Ulrich in Cycle News under the “Wadded” section of the news department when Daingerous totaled the first—and only—Suzuki GS550 model in the country at Willow Springs Raceway during an exclusive road test. (“Sorry, I don’t remember what issue that riding impression was supposed to appear in,” said Dain.)
From 1981 to the magazine’s demise in 1987 Gingerelli served as Sport Editor and was in charge of the much-heralded “Sport Lines” department. After the magazine folded in 1987 Gingerelli continued his work as a freelance writer, most recently authoring nine hot rod books and two motorcycle books. “If it burns gasoline and rolls on wheels, I like it,” said Gingerelli, the consummate gearhead, adding: “Heck, if it rolls on its top and burns itself out, I like it, too.”
Gingerelli got his start in motojournalism in 1971 when Hot Bike Magazine hired him as Technical Editor. Since then he’s been editor of six different motorcycle magazines, and his byline has been in all major titles. In 1972 he served as president of the AFM (American Federation of Motorcyclists), and he formed that organization’s newsletter The Lap Times in 1971. His racing background includes four amateur-class road-race championships, two class wins at the Ontario Six Hour (410cc class, 1977-’78) and four FIM world endurance speed records (1986), and he’s proud to say that he competed in the last bona fide Elsinore GP (1972, “and I almost didn’t almost win”). He enjoys all forms of riding, including off-road, long-distance touring, commuting and day rides, and of course testing new products. “I’ve been riding motorcycles since 1965, and I hope to continue riding for years to come,” said Daingerous.
And about that moniker, Daingerous Dain? “I’ll explain that in a later posting, and that’s all I have to say about that.”