It's been nearly forgotten, but there was a brief time in 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross where Malcolm Stewart was as fast, if not faster, than anyone. He led Anaheim 1 until crashing, then logged fastest qualifying time and won a heat race at San Diego before another crash. Then, days later, he tore every ligament in his knee, prompting a full reconstruction and nine months off the motorcycle.
Malcolm is back on the bike now, and his recovery is going well. How well? His teammates have been gushing heavily with "flying on the test track" talk about Malcolm. He's going very fast, again.
We caught up with Malcolm at the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team intro for an update.
Racer X: Malcolm Stewart, it's been a long time. Take me through the process of getting over the injury, getting back on the bike and then how this year has been mentally not being able to go racing.
Malcolm Stewart: Yeah, of course, nine months is a long time not to be on the motorcycle! So, just going through that whole process right when the knee happened, I was so bummed, and then of course that was contract year for me at the same time. So I was like, man, what am I gonna do? There's parts of me where I was like, “This might be the end of my road.” But the team kind of gave me a little bit of relief and they said, “Hey, we're gonna sign you for two more years.” It was like, “Hey, the only thing we want you to do is go get your knee fixed and go from there.” But I guess it's been a long off season for me. It's not a season I want, but so far off season actually has been going good once I got back on a motorcycle. A few more weeks and then we'll be at A1. So it's, it's pretty cool man. And then not only that, [but] being surrounded by a really good group of guys when your highs and lows. I think the coolest thing is that I'm surrounded with very familiar faces. Of course, Christian Craig, I grew up with him in an amateur career, so raced him a lot. RJ Hampshire. He was from Florida, so known him my whole life and then Casey Cochran, known him even when he was in Florida. He's gonna be coming in as a rookie, I always try to give my best advice to anybody who's that's young and stuff like that. So, and then of course we have Guillem Farres from Spain, so don't really know him too much, but he's a very happy kid. He just wants to go out there and do the best he can. So it's just cool to see the group of guys that we have and so far it's been going good.
I know you don't like being called a veteran, as you said up there on the stage. But you have had a pretty long career to this point. Does it, does it kind of feel like a blur in any way that you're at this age in this stage of your career already, but still too have more years to go at least?
Right. For me I feel like I blinked and I won a 250 championship! I was rookie, blinked, won 250 championship, blinked again next year…. [now] I'm here! [Laughs] Right? So it's crazy how fast life goes and the highs and lows, too. Um, and to me honestly it felt like forever again, nine months. It does feel like a long time, but then also when I got on the motorcycle it feels like yesterday. Right? So it's actually, I guess I would say it is [a blur]. Yeah being a veteran but at the same time I'm also looking at all other sports like the NFL. Athletes are a little bit older in the football area, baseball and the whole nine yards. So I think it's just cool to see the same group of guys back in our sport still racing, right? Like the same guys that used to play in the sandbox with are still racing. I guess we are pushing our early thirties but it's cool. We have some new groups of guys coming in there, young kids, they try to show us around but it keeps us on his toes. I think it's fun.
Last time I saw you was Anaheim and it was going so well until it wasn't, like you said. Was it frustrating at all then that you wanted to have another go at it and you didn't get a chance to kind of prove that Anaheim one wasn't this weird situation? You can go out there and you can battle for wins.
Yeah, having that happen like that, it cut me deep but at the same time, I did my knee on like a Tuesday and I'll never forget, did my knee on Tuesday went and saw MRI the next day, got the results back later on that evening. And that's the same day my teammate at the time Jalek Swoll broke his shoulder and I was just sitting here. I was so bummed to hear that, on my side with the MRI results. And then I found out an hour later that he [Swoll] broke his shoulder and I was like, "Okay, I feel worse for him." I feel a little bit better for myself because at least I got to prove something. I made it to the track, that poor guy didn't even get a chance to do nothing. So it's crazy how life goes like that. But yeah, it was a little frustrating, to get back to what you asked. But at the same time, I guess I would say maybe that was a gift from God. Who knows? It could have been worse and that's kind of how the dice rolled. Not only myself but a lot of great top tier athletes started rolling out right after me. I think it was just the luck of the draw.
You said you got back on the bike and, and it felt like at home again, you felt like everything kind of came back pretty quickly. So, is it exciting then? Seeing where you were at the beginning of last year now, how you feel right now and you can come back into this year and kind of test that again?
Right. Yeah, of course. I feel like to me it's gonna be a really, really good year. It's called racing, right? You never know what's gonna happen, but I'm excited, I'm gonna give everything I got and I just wanna be back in that stadium. I want those eyes on me. I love it and I love being nervous. I love everything about it. I've been racing my whole life and that's like that's the only thing I know.
We get Jett, Hunter [Lawrence] and Justin [Cooper] this year as new fresh talent, but Eli [Tomac] and you and Jason [Anderson], everyone's still coming back. So it feels like this mesh of both worlds colliding a little bit this year. How does it feel for you though? Like you said to be in the mix of all these guys that it's maybe one of the more talented fields we've seen.
Great. I actually feel really good. Actually, if anything, I feel like I'm a little bit of the underdog because my season got cut so short that I felt like the [number] 27 kind of faded out a little bit, so nobody really knows what I've been doing or anything like that. You just hear rumors here and there. So to come back and to get back in there, of course I want to prove a point. Don't sleep on the number 27. We're gonna be back out there.
Do you have any kind of goals or expectations that you have for early in the season though? To kind of get back, get your feet wet in a little bit and just kind of make sure things are feeling right?
No because if I have that mindset, I feel like I'm not gonna go out there and achieve what I wanna do. I wanna go out there and win the first race and that's the mindset to have. I'll worry about everything else that happens. That was the same mindset I had in 2022 and we ended up third overall. So I think if you have that same mindset, things come right. Heat race wins, podiums and stuff like that. So, keeping that same mindset, I think at the end goal it's gonna be good.