The hype surrounding James “Bubba” Stewart’s entry into professional motocross this year was out of control. Or was it? Who would have thought that the young rider from Florida was as gifted as he was made out to be? No one had any idea of what we were in store for before we saw him blaze his first few laps at Anaheim.
Well, time has passed since then and everyone knows Bubba lost the 125cc West Coast SX title by making mistakes that could have been avoided. While everyone can come down on him for it, let’s not forget that he is just 16 years old! Two years from now, James will be a seasoned professional, yet he will barely be able to vote!
The one thing that takes me back about James is his maturity. This young man was literally tossed into a whirlpool of money and fame when he turned pro. Yet with all those distractions surrounding him, he is one of the nicest kids you will ever meet.
TWMX got Bubba’s thoughts on his first outdoor win and losing the SX title. However you may feel about him, one thing is sure: James “Bubba” Stewart is going to be rewriting the history books on motocross for years to come.
TransWorld Motocross: How does it feel to win your first AMA National?
James Stewart: It feels good man, I am telling you. This is what I have worked for my whole life.
TWMX: Was it what you expected as far as how fast your competition is?
JS: It is about what I expected; these guys are definitely fast. Mike Brown, Grant Langston and Chad Reed, they are all awesome. I am sorry Chad fell out there, because we would have had a great four-way battle! I just happened to be lucky enough to get second and come away with the overall.
TWMX: You really opened it up the first moto. There was nobody even close, but in the second moto it looked as though you turned it down a notch, knowing you had the overall.
JS: Yeah, definitely. I was just waiting for Mike to get by Grant. After I fell over, I told myself “You have to work now.” I caught back up to those guys fast, and then I was just waiting for Mike Brown to get around Grant. If it were to get late in the moto, I would have had to pick it up and try to pass both of them. I think Mike pressured Grant into making a mistake. I got lucky getting the overall win and it feels good.
TWMX: Towards the end of the second moto, would you have had the energy to step it up if you had to?
JS: Yeah, for sure. I had to turn it down a lot because the track was getting really rough. If I had to though, I could have picked it up and Mike and I would have battled. I did not have to, so I just tried to stay consistent.
TWMX: You’ve already learned from your Supercross season, haven’t you?
JS: I have. I didn’t win that title because of little mistakes. I was just telling J-Bone, his mechanic I might be perfect next year because I have learned so much! Now I know what to do and what not to do. I just have to be consistent from now on. The outdoor season is not won at Glen Helen in two motos; it’s a combination of 24 motos over the summer.
TWMX: How did you feel after losing the 125cc West Coast Supercross title?
JS: It’s definitely a bummer; I really wanted to win that title. Right now my focus is to keep my head up and look forward to the Nationals. I think I can win, but I can’t take any more chances. I just want to try be the most consistent rider on the track.
TWMX: Did winning the 125cc East/West Shootout mean a lot to you?
JS: Yes, it meant a lot to me; I wanted to win that race bad. The fact that it was live on Pay Per View was a big deal. It was fun to go head-to-head with all the fast guys, even if it was just one race. Now I have to look at the big picture, the outdoor Nationals. I think I am ready to go outside and try for a title. If I ride in my limits, I think I can win.
TWMX: Do you and Travis Preston talk at all?
JS: We say what’s up every once and a while. We don’t have big conversations, though.
TWMX: How do you feel about himm winning the title?
JS: He deserved to win it. He was the most consistent out of all of us. I think he only had one bad race, when he got a 17th place. I am glad he won it and not anybody else. He’s not a cocky rider, and he will be a good champion.
TWMX: How do you handle your schooling? Do your parents homeschool you?
JS: I am homeschooled. I am always gone, like right now I am in California for three weeks. I would have flunked out by now if I was going to regular school. I just do my school work before or after I ride or train. My mom helps me with all of my studies. She does a great job at keeping me where I need to be.
TWMX: Do you feel like you are missing any part of the high school lifestyle?
JS: No way! I am glad I am doing what I am doing. I wanted to go to high school before, but now I look at all those people that are going to be watching me race on TV this year and this is way better. I am getting an education with my schoolwork and on the track.
TWMX: What did you think of your story in Sports Illustrated?
JS: It was great! The only other MX rider to ever be in that magazine was McGrath. To be in the magazine with Kobe and Shaq is something I can be proud of.
TWMX: A lot of the media is calling you the Tiger Woods of Motocross. Having spent a lot of time with Ken Griffey Jr. Do you know if he knows him? If he dose, have you had the chance to meet Tiger?
JS: No I have not met him yet. I think Ken knows him. Maybe one day I will be lucky enough and I will go over Ken’s house and Tiger will be there chillin’. I would love to meet him that would be awesome!
TWMX: Anything special you do to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the motocross world?
JS: Mostly I just chill out. I go out and ride my cows. It’s fun, but I get bucked off all the time. I also do some mountain biking and some jet skiing. I just try to have fun, what ever I am doing.