A Forty Minute, Sixteen Second Conversation with James Stewart.
By:
Steve

 It just seemed like a good time to talk to Stewie. Grab some liquids and settle in.

Right off the bat, thanks for doing this and how many dudes like me call you every day wanting something?
I talked to Steve Cox two nights ago, I talked to the ESPN dudes two nights ago, I talked to another lady from ESPN yesterday.I have the Nike people over for a photo shoot today and yesterday. This week has been pretty calm actually (laughs)
Yeah sounds like it, I can’t imagine a guy like you and all the requests you must get from jerkys like me.
Yeah, a lot. I used to talk and not really know what I was talking about and then I used to not like doing interviews for a while because people would take my words and turn them around and things like that. But now I’m ok with doing them and I like them again.
Your bike is a lot better than it was at the earlier rounds and I’m curious to know how much you yelled at Larry Brooks after Anaheim 2? I want to know what went down after that race.
To be honest, nothing really, we talked after the race and it wasn’t his fault. I’ve always been the person to take the fault with my team, even going back to the days at Kawasaki. When that thing would throw my over the handlebars I would still say it was good. I knew that it wasn’t his fault, the direction we went was more my direction and I couldn’t be mad at him for that. So instead of going back and getting mad at each other, we went back and worked on it and won six races in a row.
I just say that because I know how you big factory riders work, you guys get pissed when your bike doesn’t work. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be pissed but I’m sure you weren’t happy at the situation. On the track when you were clanking stuff and catching your front wheel, you had to be steaming because the bike wouldn’t do what you wanted it to do.
You know what’s funny is I don’t ever…I never…forget it I take that back (laughs). I don’t think I yelled at Brooks about the bike, I’m the type of guy to say “Hey, if this is what you’re giving me to ride, that’s fine, I’m going to go out there and put it on the track and I’m all with you.” I don’t say you guys suck or whatever, I just make them feel guilty about it.
You’re like “If this is the best bike that you got, thank you”.
Yes, thank you very much for this bike and getting me on the team and everything (laughs).
Stewie getting silly in San Diego, it would be cool to have one of those helmets. Thanks Steve Cox!
 
What do you think about the tracks this year? I think most of them have sucked but I’m not racing on them.
I think the tracks are different, I wouldn’t say they sucked but the only one I really didn’t like was A2. I thought it was way too tight and all that. I’m not a fan of all the turns. I think the best track of the year was probably…I thought Houston was good but some didn’t but maybe that was because I won. McGraths track at Anaheim3 was really good and I liked San Diego. It was kind of simple but it was fun because it had lots of little cool looking turns, the bowl turns were kinda back. I think for sure the tracks haven’t been as good as they have been in the past. For sure.
Yeah, I think that’s a conscious decision to maybe stop the runaways or something like that. They seem to be “dumbing” down the tracks for some reason, everybody can jump everything. Do you think so?
No, I don’t. I think the tracks have been more technical then they have in the past couple of years. I always say this but the only way, and I mean the only way to make the tracks where everybody can run the same is to put two barrels out on the track. Like this weekend, the tracks have been forty five seconds or whatever it was and I ended up winning…not easy but I had the biggest lead I had all year. Then you got to A2 and stuff and you have a freight train because people can’t pass.
I still believe that forty-five second tracks are the best tracks.
Really?
Yeah for sure, they allow the people to not get tired. If you think about, not from a fans perspective, but if you think about how A3, we lapped third place and what was the difference? It was because it was muddy and technical and took a lot of work, that shows you right there that the tougher you make the track, the bigger the gap is going to be and I don’t think they understand that. You make forty-five second tracks and the people are going to run together. You look at Phoenix and even San Diego and I was two seconds faster than anyone else and I went back and looked at everybody’s lap times and from second place to nineteenth, the difference was three seconds apart. That tells you right there that the easier the track is, the closer people are going to be.
Yeah, in San Fran the difference between second and ninth was one and half seconds or something like that, I worked it out.
Yeah, and then you go to A2 and the tougher ones and you can’t say that.
That’s an excellent point James, but don’t you think that the fans blink and the night is over with forty-five second lap times?
I understand that and I think that the fans bring kids there and you know how kids are, after nine o’clock, they don’t want to stay up. I think you have to ask the real die-hard motocross fans, they don’t like that but I think the families in the stands would like it better. I’d rather see them bring ticket prices down, like five bucks cheaper, and they might sell a 1000, 1500 more tickets than they do now. That would help. I think bring the semi’s back, do things like the US Open, maybe make a race for the guys that don’t make the main, do something for those guys. I do see both sides for sure. They can make it longer and stuff but I don’t control the series.
That was a pretty sneaky move in San Diego with not really jumping those table-tops until the main, for some reason I love the gamesmanship in that move.
I’m a sneaky dude. It’s funny because in Houston I had a couple of things in my bag and I thought that I might need it. When times get rough, believe me something will get done (laughs).
What about Voss almost taking you out and then, in a state of panic, jump onto the tuff blocks over the finish line. Did you see that?
Yeah I saw it, I was right there! You know what I said this weekend and the people just start jumping on me about it, calling me a baby. They can call me a baby, I don’t care. I said that I was pissed off but I was laughing when I was saying it. He went to the outside, I went to the inside, we both jumped and we collided. Obviously if I had went down, I’d be upset because I worked so hard to get the lead but it happens every weekend and lappers are part of the deal. It is what it is. Sometimes I feel like part of the deal is that it’s not the lappers fault, it’s the way the system is. I feel bad because I come up to lap them and the dudes slow down and I see the dude in front of him pull like three or four seconds so the next time that happens that dude isn’t going to do that.
I feel like there should be a mandatory thing we you can’t pass on a blue flag. You’re getting lapped, don’t worry about getting passed when you see the blue flag. That would solve a lot of the problems but I think sometimes they like the lappers because that sometimes makes a race out of it. If I was a lapper and somebody was going to come up and pass me because of it, I’d race too.
When was the last time you were a lapper? Have you ever been lapped?
Yep. I remember I got lapped at Daytona 2006 when I went down and was a little dingy. I remember that and will never forget it.
Oh yeah, that was a great crash. I’m still not sure how you survived it actually.
Yeah I don’t know either, I got jacked by this giant stake that was in there. That’s when they started taking the stakes out.
I just like how Voss was probably crapping his pants because he almost took you out and then just lost his mind and jumped off the track trying to absolutely make sure he was out of the way.
Yeah, at first I was like “Dude, get out of the way” but when I saw him almost clean himself out trying to get out of the way, I couldn’t be mad at him anymore. He tries and the hardest thing is, especially in supercross, is that we’re quicker than them and come up on them so much faster. On these tracks, its jump, turn, jump, turn and there’s not a lot of places a guy can go and he found that out when he went off the track. That’s the only place you can pass, when a guy goes off the track!
Does it drive you nuts that people overanalyze what you say and do? Every little thing is looked at and scrutinized. There’s a thread about you missing an autograph session now…
Yeah well some people don’t like me and don’t want to hear what I have to say, I understand that. There’s nothing I can do about that, I try to say and do the right things and there’s nothing I can do about the people that just don’t like me. Oh well, and as far as the autograph session, I did miss it. I never miss them and am always on time but I did miss this one and I don’t know if there was an accident or what but California people can’t drive in the rain. You know, every time there is a rain drop the people slam on their brakes and the dealership was about an hour away from where we were staying at and we were sitting in traffic at 6:30 and we were still 45 minutes away or something like that. I was at the stadium doing some CBS stuff. I missed it and I took care of the fans the next day, they all got autographs and I hooked them up the best I could. I missed it.
Why is that even news enough to be on the internet though? It must be the climate that we live in now, shit happens to everybody like that from time to time.
Yeah, I’ve been around and I know how it goes though. I try to always be there when I’m supposed to, especially the Chapparral deal you know. That’s a big thing and I’m there on time. Honestly, the thing is from six to eight and I’ll see some guys come in at six thirty and leave at seven forty-five and I sit there and I don’t understand why nobody ever says anything. If I did it, it would be a big deal, I guess I’m happy to be in the position where people care about what I do and say. If I’m in the position to be criticized from time to time, that must mean I’m doing something right and people want my autograph.
When is the next YouTube video coming out? The people are waiting.
Pretty soon I think, I was going to do one when I was in California a couple of weeks ago but I had too much work to do y’know? I had to try and get back into this series and stuff but now I think the Youtube videos will come back.
Now that you’re the co-series leader, the time is right huh?
Yes, I’m now in the points lead if you go by wins. If he wanted to end it right now, I would. Chad can get half the number one and I’ll get the other half and we’ll be done with it and I can make YouTube videos. It’s funny you know, the people that watch those just love it, you go on the websites and people are like “James, you’re such a cool dude” and stuff like that they just love it, I bet you those are the same people that go and say “James, you missed an autograph session, you suck” so it goes both ways.
What’s the maddest your dad ever got at you at the races? Your whole career, did he ever just lose it?
Oh yeah, he’s lost it a few times. I would say the worse was probably when I was an amateur and I gave up. I had no chance of winning and I’m the type of guy that I can’t stand to lose. I’ve gotten better with that over the last little bit but I couldn’t stand to lose and Morais passed me and was going to beat me. I got fifth or something like that, I got passed like four times on the last lap and he freaking lost it. He was calling me a punk and all kind of words like that. You know how dads get…
Yes, I do know.
To this day I will crash before I give up. That was really bad and I will never give up, I’ll just crash before then.
One time my bike was cutting out when I was on 80’s and I threw it down in the pits because it wasn’t working and my dad went off and I never threw my bike down again.
Yeah, they don’t like that stuff. My dad used to sit there and you know how WD-40 was the stuff back then. You weren’t anybody unless you had WD-40 on your bike and my dad would have that thing shined up for practice and I would slide off the back and I’d be “Dad, take that stuff off”. He would be “If you don’t like it, you take it off. I spent all night working on this thing and if you don’t appreciate it…” and I’d be “That’s ok dad, I’ll slip off the back never mind”.
What about your mechanics bonuses? Now that you have two, how is that going to work percentage wise?
You know I figure that it’s pretty easy. I give them my normal percentage that I would give my mechanic and they just have to split it. They have to half it man.
These are things that I think about as an old mechanic.
Yeah, see if you were on it we would only need one mechanic right (laughs)?
Yeah for sure man. I have a national win to my credit and a Summercross win. Do you know what Summercross was?
Yeah, that was that Pasadena thing right?
No, that was the world supercross, this was in the LA Coliseum and was a glorious night for those involved.
Yeah, that’s right. That was where Pastrana took out somebody so hard, put them right over the berm or something like that. (James still doesn’t have the right race but I changed topics before he made me cry)
When you were riding a KX 125 outdoors, what was the percentage that you were wide open?
Like going as fast as I could?
No, just how much you had the throttle wide open?
In 2004, 95% of the track I was wide open because the bike was slow. The other years I was out of control but the bike was better. I would say at least 85 to 90% of the times I was wide open around the track. Just pinning it.
People still talk about your 125 outdoor rides because it’s cool to see a guy go wide open and just make the bike go around the track.
Yeah dude, it sucked because it did not transpire on that 250 man. I still, to this day, have nightmares about trying to ride that bike outdoors.
You’re like “I’m trying to ride it like a 125!”
It wasn’t even that dude, that thing was the scariest bike ever. I thought about when Chad rode the Yamaha 250 and RC’s two-stroke and they all looked pretty good but if I had to go back to riding that thing, forget it. I’d go to NASCAR.
The old two fitty nine days. You can't see his throttle hand but you wanna bet he's wide open? Thanks Steve Cox!
 
Those steel framed YZ250’s were so good. I was at Yamaha then and the motor had never changed that much and they knew how to get everything out of it. From MC on they always had those bikes working so well.
It was good, I could see that they were good.
What about your summer plans? Do you know which GP’s you’re going to do yet?
Well they keep cancelling the ones I want to go to! I wanted to go to that South African one and they cancelled that one. Then the USGP, that one is cancelled and the South America one is also off. I don’t know, I may just race the whole AMA nationals.
Oh man, people in Morgantown just peed their pants…
I don’t know for sure, don’t go twisting my words. You never know.
I won’t, I’ll type it out just like it is. The reason I ask is I got a couple letters from Euros that wanted to know if “Booba” was racing the GP’s.
Yeah, Booba would definitely be in Europe, Booba’s coming. If I had my first choice and could do anything I wanted, I would race the outdoors series over here but that’s not my choice, it’s not up to me. We gotta do what we gotta do.
What’s your ride right now?
My Toyota Tundra! Haven’t you seen me, “Where’s yours?” (Laughs)
Ummmm, mine is at the dealership. They haven’t given one to me because I can’t afford it.
It’s at the dealership, getting ready.
How much do you drive your Lambo and Bentley and whatever else you have?
Well, since I’ve come back I haven’t pulled the Lambo out, I haven’t even driven it. I remember having it at Daytona in ’06 or whenever that was, the most miles I ever put on that thing was 1300 miles. The most miles I’ve ever had on any of my sports cars was that Phantom, which was 1300. I hit the thousand mile mark and I get rid of them because I can still get some money back on them.
It’s just the fact that you can own them and drive for a bit huh?
It’s just having it and it’s not about how many nice cars you can have. It’s the system being worked over here. I’m working it!
Billy Ursic and I are going to be down in Florida before Daytona and want to come by and hang out, is that cool?
Yeah, I don’t mind. You guys can come down.
How are the old motocross legends with you? Do you have a favorite old guy?
Probably the coolest one is Stanton because all he does is smile and wink at me. That’s so cool, I’m a big fan of that guy for sure. Probably the guy that I don’t get along with is Rick Johnson, I don’t know but we just don’t get along. I hear other people say that he doesn’t get along with people. I think we don’t get along, but I’m not sure why. Back in the day I might have pissed him off and we don’t talk and whenever I’m around him I get a weird feeling. He was working for Suzuki and RC was there, maybe that was it.
Yeah other people don’t get along with him either, I’m not sure why. Hey what about Chisholm now? He’s on it, I don’t want to toot my own horn but I wrote that when he made his first one, the other ones were going to come easy. He’s been riding great.
Yeah he’s been better for sure. Like I said before, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with that ride and some people don’t know how to handle it at first. He’s doing great and like I tell him, dude they don’t hire you win! They hired you to a bike in the main and help the team out, I’m paid to win and the pressure is on me. He’s doing better and I’m pumped he got that ninth.
When you were on Deal or No Deal TV show, did you hang with Howie Mandel?
Yeah but only real quick. The first time I met him was on the stage. It was weird, there was a lot of time on the stage in between the deal or no deal, they got a guy that comes out on the stage and keeps the crowd into it. It’s not like its boom, boom commercial break. It’s a long time in between takes.
Who is your favorite teammate? Byrner or Ferry?
How about if I go old school and say Lusk! I’ll go all the way back. I liked Timmy as a teammate but it was weird last year. I know it wasn’t coming from Timmy but there was a weird vibe on the team last year, the team was almost separated or something like that. I like Timmy, it’s funny because every time I talked to him I would laugh and think “Timmy’s a cool dude” and I liked him but didn’t get to know him that much. He was on his program and I was on mine. As far as racing goes, Timmy was the coolest.
But Byrner was a great guy also, I know you got along with him and now I feel bad I made you choose.
Yeah, Byrner was cool for sure. At the track, he was really good and would try new stuff. Timmy isn’t going to try new stuff at the track; he’s going to do what he does. He’s Timothy Ferry, that’s who he is.
Did Yogi actually ever talk to you?
I don’t remember but I don’t think we talked too much.
Yeah, Ezra doesn’t really talk too much.
I remember one time when he had his baby, somebody has a picture of it-maybe Steve Bruhn, and I cut my face out and put it over the babies face. He used to hang up baby pictures in the lockers, actually he would put them everywhere and I’d be like, “C’mon guy, that’s not cool”-they’d be everywhere man. I remember Jennifer (his wife) was holding the baby in the picture and I cut out my head and put it on the baby’s face!
It looked so funny and I remember that Bruce (team manager) was telling me that I need to take it down or he’ll cry. I started laughing so hard…
He’s a pretty sensitive guy, that might actually hurt him.
I used to tell him that the baby was going to come out black! He would always say that if the baby came out black, he was coming straight over to find me. So that’s why I put my face over the baby, it was a black kid!
You know you can catch Reedy in career supercross wins this year, are you aware of that?
I think he’s got thirty-five.
Yeah, you’re at twenty-nine.
I’ve got thirty-one guy.
Yeah that’s what I meant. You can pass him for third all time.
You what’s funny is I’m not going after him. He’s not the one I want to get, you know which one I want.
Dude, he’s the King, you can’t do that.
Yeah, every king has to move over sometime. He’ll always be the king; I would be like his servant or something. He’ll always be the man, it’s a long ways to go though. The only way I would beat Reedy in the overall wins is to win this championship.
It’s crazy to think how many wins seventy-two is, that’s a shitload. You’re gnarly and you have thirty-one and it seems like you win all the time and he’s double you and plus some more!
I look at it like he raced 1993 to 2001 and that’s eight years. If I race four more years and get ten wins a year I’ll beat him. I feel like I can do that.
That’s true when you look at that way. You’re pretty close.
You gotta break it down man, I’d have to get eleven wins in one year and that’s if I don’t win anymore this year.
And we have seventeen races a year and for you to win ten a year, that seems pretty do-able actually. Damm…
When you look at it like that way, you’re like..ooooo, he could do it.
You’re gonna beat the King!
Well, I gotta get some championships like him also. To beat the King there would be some championships in there also. I probably won’t get to the seven that he’s got, that’s a lot. Well maybe, I’ll tell you what, if I get to the King it won’t be like seventy-three to seventy-two or anything like that. I’ll beat him by more than that.
You know it has always bugged me that RC was called the GOAT because he wasn’t close to MC’s supercross win list. So that wouldn’t make him the GOAT …
Yeah, I would say RC was the greatest of outdoor times so he’d be the GOOAT or whatever (laughs).
(We spend the next 15 seconds trying to say GOO-AT and laughing)
Ricky deserves his credit though, he’s the all time outdoor guy and second in the supercross so that’s pretty incredible. I just think, for me, I wish we could’ve raced longer together. He did beat me in the outdoor championships for sure but there was only one time that we raced a full season and we split it. I won the world title and he won the AMA championship. In outdoors I was on that death trap and then I got hurt. In 06 we split the supercross title and he beat me in the outdoors and in 2007 I still believe that it would’ve been a dog fight in the supercross season had we raced. There was only one time where we really raced straight up. He got me, I got him.
But his people would have you believe that he didn’t care about that World title because he was just gearing up for the AMA series.
I know, I know. I heard that but I gotta keep my mouth shut because the guy that was saying that was the guy that I’m working with now (laughs). I have to watch how I say that, it’s so funny man. This paragraph is going to get me in trouble and all that but I just to tell Aldon this to get him pissed off. Whenever he gets me mad I tell him that one time, I went down to Phoenix supercross and ate a pack of those white powdered donuts and went out and gave your boy the business.
He gets so mad at me and all that. I tell him that I believe in his program and all that but I also believe in the sweets also.
One time before the Millville national, I saw John Dowd eat chicken fried steak and eggs with all that white gravy on top and he went out and won that day. True story.
If I would sit here and tell you all the stuff that I would eat before a 125 outdoor moto, it would blow your mind. I used to eat chicken wings, I would eat a hamburger right before the main event! It was all that, especially now that I’m supercross only, I can hit the vending machines at the Holiday Inn.
When Aldon hears those things, he must be just freaking out.
Yeah, he loses it. I just tell him that I went out in supercross and gave his boy the business with the white powdered donuts. I’m like “You know that white stuff on my lips? That wasn’t dust,  that was the powdered sprinkles from the donuts I just ate”. It was funny.
Would you ever drop down and go after the all time 125 win record?
What are you talking about? I already have that.
Errrrrrrrrr, sorry. I will fire my research staff. I thought RC had 31, Bomber had 30 and you had 28.
You gotta go back Steve and check these things out. People don’t wanna tell you things because they don’t want to tell you the truth. The only things that those guys got on me is they have three championships and I have two because I got hurt. Any 125 record you want to pull, I have it. I have the most supercross wins and outdoor wins.
You could be the greatest 450 outdoor guy if your team was doing them, you could own every record there was.
Yeah I know but the outdoors isn’t something that I went for. I was never into the record books. Coming up I was a supercross guy and loved racing supercross and that’s what I wanted to go for. It would be cool to have it but I never went for it. Every rider had goals and I can tell you that RC never went for seventy-two, he wanted to get the outdoor titles. McGrath never went for the outdoor titles, he went for the supercross titles and took it as far as he could go for. That was always his thing.
What are the three most important things that Ratto does for you?
I don’t know. He does a little bit of everything, I think the most important thing is that he’s my friend. Every athlete has somebody like that. Ricky has Scott Taylor, Chad has…somebody. I don’t know who..
Probably Joel Bueller, his motorhome driver…
Yeah that guy. And even Timmy has you and I’ve always had Ratto around so probably the YouTube videos, being my friend and sometimes, back in the day, he would go and get me Sweet Sixteen candies and an orange Fanta soda. That was his move.
What do you do with all your money? Do you bury it in cans?
I mean pretty much it’s all invested back into my program. If you come over here you’re going to see where I put the money in. I invest a lot of money into my tracks. Everything around me is to make me a better supercross rider, I built my gym, I built me another supercross track and I just invest it back in. It’s funny to hear people talk about how I spend all my money on my cars and stuff but if they came here, they would see where I put it. I never feel bad at what I do because I if I need a weight set to work on my legs, I’ll go buy it. We have buildings and properties and stuff for investments but mostly I put it into my program.  I’m a cheap dude.
I know I hear you talking about the price of gas and stuff all the time.
I’m tight with my money unless there’s something can help me out. Come eat dinner with me and see who picks up the check.
Ferry never buys dinner unless Evie is there, then he always does. Must be a rider thing…
I play paper rock scissors for the check all the time. We’ll work it out that way.
Thanks for this James, I know you’re busy and talking to me isn’t that important.
It’s all good Steve.

Comments

Good stuff

Thanks Steve for the great reads on Racerxonline and now here! I just listened to your podcast with MC, awesome...

I miss watching james just pinned on his 125...

I'm a big Bubbles fan for sure, but I listened to an old DMXS podcast and Tedesco was saying how when james broke Ivan's hand that he never came over and talked to him about it. And then how, MC said that james won't talk to him anymore 'cause he cleaned him out in a corner...
that stuff kinda bumbs me out about Stewart, but..

Anyway, he has been really cool to the media and he was always funny in his interviews during his amateur days for sure.. Remember the old terrafirma video with stewart, carmichael, and pastrana when they where kids? I wish i had that on dvd right now...

Thank you Stewie

Man Stewart is the man! I would love to spend a day with him as he seems to be such a nice racer! He seems to love the sport he´s in and only want his sport to grow and become recognized as a real sport.

One thing I would like to see is Stewart racing a HardEnduro... it seems he has the speed for it and it would be nice to see how versatile he is as a racer.

Go Stewart!

Awesome Interview

Matthes, you help make it real. I have never been a huge James Stewart fan; however, this interview had me rolling. JS is a cool dude. Thanks!

Time not laps

Can we please go to timed races? 45sec lap times = 15 minute races = rip off. Local races sometimes last longer and I don't pay to see those.

How 'bout a simple 20 minutes plus 1 lap for both 250 and 450? We don't have the semis anymore so there's no reason not to work the kids a bit more too. They're bordering on 12 minute races. Yawn.

Time not Laps

If they went to 20 minutes instead of 20 laps each main, what will happen is that the field up to third place will be lapped and that will be really frustrating to other riders. Right now they are getting lappedd up to 6th or 5th place. It will be demoralizing to them as competitors. Now don't get me wrong, I think that like you, many of us want to see more racing and competition.
The 'rest of the field' needs to step it up to be up there with James and Chad.