AMA Motocross Champion James Stewart – AMA SPEED Athlete of the Year
Courtesy MX Sports
While his 2008 season started out on a low note, James Stewart brought the year to a tremendous close, capped by his perfect summer in the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship. Riding a Monster Energy Kawasaki, Stewart won all 12 rounds of the series, as well as all 24 motos. As a result, he was named AMA SPEED Athlete of the Year for the first time in his illustrious career.
“This is one of my highest honors,” Stewart said after being honored at the AMA Award Banquet at Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama. “After seven years, I finally did something good enough to win this.”
“The (motocross) season didn’t start for me in May,” explained Stewart. “It started when I got hurt two weeks into (the Supercross season). It had been three years in a row that I haven’t finished the outdoor season, and I was sitting in the hospital thinking, again, that my year was done before it even started.”
The 22-year-old Stewart, who hails from Haines City, Florida, returned to the track on Memorial Day weekend just four months removed from corrective knee surgery. After posting a pair of convincing moto victories at round one in Glen Helen, Stewart proved he was better than ever and set sail on arguably the most dominant season in AMA Toyota Motocross Championship history. Only one other athlete in motocross history has managed to do what Stewart did. In both 2002 and 2004, Ricky Carmichael managed 24-0 moto finishes in claiming the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship.
Stewart wasn’t done when the outdoor season ended. He also stepped up to represent Team USA at the 2008 FIM Motocross of Nations in England, where he and teammates Ryan Villopoto and Tim Ferry claimed a fourth straight win for Team USA against the rest of the world’s motocross racing nations. Then he returned to win the Rockstar Energy U.S. Open of Supercross in Las Vegas, winning every race there. He finally capped off his season with a dominant win in his first-ever Paris-Bercy Supercross in France.
With the honor, Stewart becomes the third consecutive AMA Toyota Motocross Champion to win the coveted award, joining Carmichael (2006) and Villopoto (2007). Additionally, with his AMA Toyota Motocross Championship, Stewart became the first rider in AMA history to win championships in each class under AMA Pro Racing: AMA Motocross Lites, AMA Motocross, AMA Supercross Lites West, AMA Supercross Lites East, and AMA Supercross.