Christmas is all about belief. So much of it is wrapped up not only in Santa Claus, but also in the intangible feel of the season—the right mix of Christmas songs, holiday colors, crazy shopping, and visits with family and friends. You take Christmas out of the attic, you are instantly familiar with it again, then you put it away. There’s something so predictable and familiar about the process, but it never actually gets old.
The belief is what drives Chad Reed and James Stewart right now. Each year, we celebrate Christmas here at Racer X Online with the telling of our favorite Christmas story, the gift that keeps on giving: James versus Chad. It is, by far, the longest-running and highest-profile rivalry in the history of this sport. You can get involved in many other things throughout the year, but when James vs. Chad returns, it’s instantly familiar.
We write about this every year. Seriously. Here’s 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. The last few editions have been sad, though. There remains the distinct possibility, like your 90-year-old uncle, that this will be their last Christmas. At some point, Chad and James are both going to be retired. The chances of another battle will officially be nil. A year ago, we surmised this was coming. We also talked about it in ’14, knowing James would not be allowed to race in 2015.
This story is not yet over, though, because of the belief. This isn’t believing in Santa Claus or believing in Christmas miracles, but rather James and Chad still believing in themselves. There is one reason these two guys have not retired. It’s not contracts, money, or a factory ride—because neither has one anymore. They won’t retire because they don’t want to be done. They still want to be The Racer.
We know this much about Chad because he says so. Call him crazy, he still thinks he can get it done. Chad Reed is okay with all of the things that come with racing, even the things most people don’t like—travel, testing, and spending money. He will do it because this is who he is and what he does. He loves it all, and he will tell you this.
James Stewart hasn’t told anyone anything, but if he didn’t also believe this to be true, he could easily make an Instagram post, call it a career, and end it. James Stewart, though, has been a phenom since age five, and a superstar his entire life. He is someone with his own orbit. He’s spent decades knowing in his heart that he’s the baddest dude at one of the baddest things anyone can do, which is go fast on a motorcycle. It’s very hard to give up on that thought.
Christmas only goes as far as the belief, and that will determine how far James and Chad go, too. They could quit tomorrow if they want, but they don’t want to. James is, once again, rumored to be working on something. Who knows? We only know he hasn’t said it’s over. Chad is hurriedly putting an effort together right now. Someday, they might battle again. Maybe not, but for as long as they believe, this story keeps going, and I guarantee you the comments below will reflect that. Nothing, nothing, nothing moves the needle in this sport like a story involving James Stewart or Chad Reed. See you next year?