450 Words: Seattle

April 30, 2007 1:41pm

There were a few doubts along the way, but for the most part, James Stewart’s rise from amateur motocross phenom to Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Champion seemed predestined for quite some time. He was branded quite a few things, from Baby Chicken to Bubba to “The Tiger Woods of Motocross,” and of course, “the fastest guy on the track.” 

And he has delivered on all of the promises. Yeah there were a few bumps in the road, but right now you’re looking at the rider with the most AMA 125 MX and Supercross wins ever, and he’s way ahead of anyone’s supercross win total for his age.

Yes, age. One thing you can tend to forget about in this sport is just how young the heroes are. There’s a whole lot of pressure and hype on some very young athletes in this game, and James is at the head of that pack. At the press conference that kicked off the AMA Supercross campaign back in January, Lug Nutz from Speed Freaks (yes) asked James if he could win a championship, or if he would be another Peyton Manning. Well, two months later Manning had his championship, which seemed to end that argument. But lost in the whole deal was the fact that Peyton Manning was born in 1976, and James Stewart was born in 1985. Stewart is just 21. At that age, Manning wasn’t even a pro yet, let alone someone expected to carry an entire sport on his shoulders.

So yeah, Stewart has hit some snags (the Toronto SX last December comes to mind), but for the most part he has delivered, and now he’s the champion of the biggest series in our sport. The James Stewart era has begun, and get ready to like it. He’s young, remember, so he’ll probably be here for a long time.
That should be a good thing. Yes, deep, stacked fields of competition sound great, but we’ve spent most of the season celebrating the memory of a rider who dominated racing for 10 years and is called the Greatest Of All Time. Dominance creates headlines, and Stewart is going to do that in mainstream America for as long as he keeps on winning.

Can he? It looks like it. Seattle posed the most difficult track of the season thanks to a massive collection of ruts, and every single rider seemed to either crash, stall or almost crash and stall throughout the main. Except Stewart. He’s been erratic at times, but he looked awfully smart, smooth and in control throughout this one, even though he was riding on a track that breeded mistakes. Maybe all of those crashes are just a brief part of his history, and the rest of the ride will be paved in gold. The sport won’t be doing too badly if that happens.

Hey, while we’re on the subject of age, congrats to 19-year-old Davi Millsaps for finally showing signs of his old self with a strong runner-up ride, and 29-year-old Kevin Windham for showing it’s not always a young man’s sport (although even K-Dub gives up a few years to Mr. Manning).