In honor of Scott Smallwood’s retirement from SuperSonicScooters, we present an interview with Scott, written by David Lucash, that originally ran in 2strokeBuzz on September 19, 2003:
Three weeks or so ago I was killing layover time in the Duty Free shop of the Montreal-Dorval International Airport. While balancing two cartons of Export A’s and giant bars of Toblerone, I spotted a familiar face checking out the bottles of fine liquor. Sure enough, it was Scott Smallwood of Supersonic Scooters of Columbus, Ohio.
He had some time to kill as well, so we made our way to an airport bar for some coffee. Within an hour the coffee turned into vodka tonics and our conversation turned into a question and answer session regarding Scott’s endeavors.
Two hours later Scott left to make his flight leaving me with the answers below, an empty pack of smokes and the tab.
2sb: When/how did your interest in scooters begin?
SS: My interest in scooters began when I saw the “Good Thing” video that the Fine Young Cannibals put out SEVERAL years backâ€¦I knew that I had to get mounted from that point onâ€¦Frankly, a marginal band w/ a couple of good tunes and a great video..I am sure that the video sparked a few scooter owner and enthusiasts interest when they viewed itâ€¦As well as the video kindled interest, a fellow skater by the name of Drake Hughes just returned from stint in San Francisco w/ a gorgeous orange Primaveraâ€¦It was on from that point onâ€¦.I can proudly say the Fine Young Cannibals is on marginal rotation at Supersonic Scooters, much to Stewart Nicol’s dismayâ€¦
2sb: Back then, which models were you drawn to? Which ones now?
SS: My first vintage scooter was a Vespa Rally 180â€¦So in turn, my interest was in the largeframe Vespa’s of the 60’s and 70’sâ€¦That changed when I saw and rode Geoff Hazleton’s Vespa smallframeâ€¦It was wicked 10 years ago! I now am most interested in the Vespa smallframe models for the rather infinite tuning possibilities and the new liquid cooled Derbis’s GP1’s have also sparked some interest in tuning and tweakingâ€¦I also have been enjoying working on my GP 125 race bikeâ€¦But when it comes to a vintage scooter, Vespa smallframes are the cats meowâ€¦
2sb: Can you explain the path that led you from being a scooter enthusiast to opening a shop?
SS: Quite simple really, NO ONE would work on my scooter and as I rode in and around the Columbus area it became more and more apparent that Columbus. needed a shop in some form or anotherâ€¦And my garage was no longer cutting itâ€¦
2sb: Scootering in the US has changed in the past few years. As someone deep in the business, what changes have you witnessed and what do you foresee in the future?
SS: I have been reluctantly pleased w/ the resurgence of interest in motorscooters in general here in the U.S. @ the same time I am weary of much of the “no name” product entering the states @ the timeâ€¦Frankly what is concerning is the flux of what I deem crapâ€¦Scooter brands w/ no tech, parts or distribution supportâ€¦Study before you buy, is what I tell all my customersâ€¦But in retrospect this is indeed the most interest that the states have ever seen in motorscooteringâ€¦Refreshing!
2sb: What scooter models does Supersonic carry? Any plans to broaden your line?
SS: Vintage Vespa (tuning, restoration, sales, repair, parts), Lambretta (restoration, tuning), Derbi (sales, repair, tuning), and soon the new Stella lineâ€¦Very well rounded indeedâ€¦
2sb: Along with scooter sales, what other services does SSS offer?
SS: We @ SSS offer race tuning, parts sales, bike sales (new and used), race prep, parts sales, mail order, riding gear, etcâ€¦
2sb: Does owning the scooter shop and having so many friends as customers, and sometimes competition, ever put you in a tight spot? I imagine it must sometimes be hard to be a businessman and not alienate people.
SS: Yes, my biggest struggle is the fact that I have a personal relationship w/ 99% of my customersâ€¦Which I would not have it any other wayâ€¦@ the same time expectations are VERY high from myself to please. So in turn, I many times put more stress on myself than necessaryâ€¦A good trait I suppose, yet I understand I that I am human and remind myself to simply do my best and that is that..Did I indeed answer the question @ handâ€¦Competition only makes you strongerâ€¦
2sb: Did opening the shop and getting into scooter racing happen simultaneously or was there a progression?
SS: I heard that a scooter racing series was formedâ€¦No doubt that I wanted to get involvedâ€¦I raced bicycles for many years and missed the speed, thrill, rubbing elbows, competition, etcâ€¦.SSS was around and I was considering road racing motorcycles when I came into scooter racingâ€¦I was stoked, and am still very stoked on scraping knee pucks on a motorscooterâ€¦
2sb: All kidding and kudos aside you have developed quite a reputation for both your scootering knowledge, namely Vespa smallframes, and your racing abilities. What are your thoughts on this? Does this make you work harder or do you often need to keep yourself in check?
SS: I do not have myself in checkâ€¦I have learned from a combination of needing to learn, experimentation, and having ol’ Geoff Hazelton aroundâ€¦The dude knows his shitâ€¦I live to race and work to liveâ€¦It just so happens I own a shop that works on what I raceâ€¦Quite simpleâ€¦
2sb: Any chance there will ever be a printed Supersonic workshop manual or tuning guide?
SS: Working on itâ€¦Norrie Kerr has a decent one if you are not familiarâ€¦Soon, very soonâ€¦
2sb: When you are out on the track are you battling many factors – i.e. yourself, your scooter, the track and other racers. If this list is accurate, can you place the factors in order and explain why?
SS: Racing, whether it be my race scooter, my GP 125 bike or a BMX bike (which I still race) it is only meâ€¦ Really, the other racers are not a factor, only obstacles to get aroundâ€¦The track is the focus, how can I take this turn faster, how can I brake laterâ€¦I really believe by taking this mindset you can stay more focusedâ€¦Mind, body, bike and trackâ€¦Everything else is not relevant, unless you allow it to consume your attentionâ€¦
2sb: What is your current race scooter setup?
SS: Top fuc%$#& secretâ€¦kiddingâ€¦Actually, my Vespa race smallframe is:
- 1974 Vespa V90 frame (cut back, bridged, welded, and stiffened)
- Vespa PK VMX 6 engine case
- Zirri MR 2000 cylinder kit, highly modified and ported
- Zirri MR 2000 centerfire head
- Mazzuchelli full circle crank w/ Kerry tune
- Vespa VMX 6 gearing w/ Zirri short 4th.
- Mikuni TM 32 mm carb.
- Taffspeed cruciform and selector spring
- J&L exhaust made especially for the MR 2000 (thanks Jim Lomas!)
- Zirri Primary gearing (straight cut)
- Zirri inlet manifold
- Carbontech reeds (thanks gang!)
- Vespa PK fork w/ Grimeca disc brake
- Magura master cylinder
- Yamaha RD 250 upper triple clamp acting as a stem
- MBD shifter assembly
- Norrie Kerr race seat
- Moe Balaaz-built rearsets (thanks Moe!)
- Magura quick-action throttle
- Continental Zippy 1s 3.0-10 (thanks Conti)
- Motul Transoil and Motul 800 2-stroke oil
That is my steed in a nutshell. I also race a modified Derbi GP1, and my trusty ol’ Honda RS 125.
2sb: Do you currently have a favorite track?
SS: Blackhawk Farms, Mid Ohio, Putnam Park, VIR, Circleville Raceway Parkâ€¦I love them allâ€¦.!
2sb: Can you explain to those that do not race the attraction of getting out on the track?
SS: Inexpensive, fast, fantastically fun form of entertainmentâ€¦Highly addictive. Give it a go, you will understand.
2sb: Being so involved in tuning and racing, do you still find enjoyment in casual street riding?
SS: Of course, I ride to and from work daily as well as many longer touring trips and blasts around the local countryside. I dig it allâ€¦Two wheels!
2sb: In ten years, what will you be doing and what would you like to look back upon?
SS: EEESHâ€¦Who the hell knowsâ€¦I’ll be riding, racing, working on bikes and hopefully living it out in a big way!
2sb: What’s the deal with the Guided By Voices photo with your done-up Rally?
SS: They contacted us concerning a photo shoot..Actually, I have been keen to their music for some time nowâ€¦Bitchin’ eh?’â€¦Actually, they crashed a brand new ET4 that dayâ€¦My mechanic Stewart can tell you all about itâ€¦
2sb: You’re a big music fan – who is currently playing the soundtrack to your life?
SS: Yes, music is a big part of my lifeâ€¦
Heavy rotation at the moment: The Bomb (ex. Naked Raygun), Shellac, Pegboy, Big Drill Car, Gang Of Four, Hot Snakes, The Explosion, The Interpreters, Kepone, Snuff, Helmetâ€¦ These band are ringing my bell at the moment&.
Dave, if you would allow, [Here it comes â€” ed] a BIG thanks to YOU and Bryan Bedell; Stew, Geoff and Jeffrey at Supersonic Scooters, Inc.; Erin McIntyre (rockstar); all our faithful customers; Motul lubricants, Carbontech reeds, Continental tires, Sudco, and Alpine Stars; my family; Andrew Miller; Myk Rodriguez; Phil Waters; and our current race team. Over-n-out.