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The Stewart Move at Unadilla: MD Reader Responses

On July 24, 2002, I wrote an editorial regarding the taunting of Chad Reed by James Stewart in the first moto at Unadilla last weekend. Although not quite unanimous, most readers thought I was wrong. In the MD tradition, here are all of the unedited (we will edit out profanity) reader e-mail concerning the Stewart opinion piece.

C’mon Dirk, to come to the point of challenging to be a champion one must be unconventional,to the extreme at times!…..Man you were doing so great with this site to this point, very professional and relevent. All gladiators need a challenge, all the the time. that move is what he needed to do at that time, if only for a challenge(which he needs) and/or to simply attempt to toy with and intimidate the competition. If it back fires, then thats what he needs to grow and prosper. One can’t be close to balanced and be a champion. That’s for so called normal people. Gladiators learn from “everything” they do. They need the offsetting positives that come out of even seemingly negative actions in order to keep pushing the Edge (no pun intended) of possibility!….Still, I respect your right to be an Individual and constructive debate is my motive. Thanks

I think you got it all wrong regarding the James Stewart story at Unadilla. Sounds like you’re trying to make the kid all wrong for what he did.
Assuming he did slow down on purpose, what’s wrong with showing your competition that you can pass them any time you want?
For a 16-year-old kid, this is not surprising behavior. This is what a 16-year-old kid would do.
He gets bored riding way out front. He prefers to be mixing it up with his competition. It’s more fun that way.
This is jus typical 16-year-old stuff, that’s all. Winning is a lot more fun if you take risks and have a challenge, isn’t it?
And who is a cockier rider than Chad Reed after all? So, Stewart wants to prove it to Reed that HE is the best.
Also, did you notice in the race the week before that when Chad Reed fell down in the turn with Stewart right behind him, Reed kept holding his leg out so Stewart couldn’t get past? That’s kind of being a poor sport if you ask me. Well, maybe Stewart was getting him back.
I thought it was a classic moment and I was glad to see something so outrageous happen at a big event.
The whole sport is all about ENTERTAINMENT.
What Stewart did makes for GREAT entertainment. In later years, it will probably become a legendary moment. I can’t wait to see this on ESPN to see what it looks like on TV, as to how easily he let him pass.

before you read too much into that act, consider what Rossi did on more than one occaision in the GP250s; he would (seemingly) deliberately fall back several spots, just to pick them all back off within a lap or two. While I don’t condone the lack of professionalism by Stewart, I wouldn’t be too quick to predict that his ego might be a liability. It doesn’t seem to be doing Valentino any harm…
Anyway, great site, I check it every day. Nice to see some thought-provoking articles on bikes once in a while.

Dirck was out of line in his evaluation of James Stuarts performance at
Unadilla.
“It is an unprofessional attitude, and indicates Stewart may have some
psychological need that is not satisfied by merely winning (and winning by
huge margins).”
Bubba is an excellent rider, and if the competition is not naturally going
to push him, being a professional he must create circumstances that will
push him. Everyone who is that far beyond their peers does it. If you
don’t do it, your edge dulls.
But being that good is not something Dirck seems able to understand.
Instead he is threatened by it and has to make ignorant, shallow, negative
comments.
Hopefully Dirck and his writing will improve in the future . . . sooner, the
better.

I really enjoy your daily columns. Good stuff!
Regarding that Stewart move perhaps he is advertiser
hunting. Getting more airtime for the logos placed
all over him and his bike. Satisfying the MX
industry.
Or maybe Kawasaki feels the need for more air time and
on air mentions of the product bike because of
Carmichael’s move and success with Honda?
I prefer to think that Stewart is still young enough
and innocent enough not to think up such a stunt on
his own. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt this
time and believe that he was led to do this.
The Arm Pump thing is pure BS on his part.
Remember that some series become extremely boring with
the same guys winning all the time (look at F1 with
Shumacher and CART when Montoya was cleaning up) if
the racing is tight and fair and square, that’s what
gets air time.
Thanks for letting my air my opinion.

The kid is 16 and just super confident, I just don’t see that he did
anything wrong. People get upset by what they perceive to be cocky, Stewart
may have been on a fact finding mission he has yet to run with Reed so he
maybe just wanted to see what Reed had, now he knows and is probably not too
concerned about him. I really don’t think he ever was.
Also if you watch the nationals you will see that Stewart is rarely the
focus, he is so far out front that the cameras rarely show him. Getting on
TV can be important to any 16 year old, nothing wrong with that.
I also don’t think its really accurate to parallel his latest move with
riding over his head in SX, in this situation he did the opposite, he
slowed down.

First of all I must say what a great resource your web site continues to
be. I enjoy reading your updates and tests. After reading your article
on James Stewart’s move at Unidilla, I was a confused. I obviously
respect the views of others, but feel you are being a bit harsh on
Stewart. The 16 year old phenon finally got the chance to settle to
score once and for all. All season long everyone has been building the
great showdown between Stewart and Reed. Two races ago, at Troy, Ohio,
Reed washed out in a berm. Once Reed was down, he choose to block
Stewart with his leg, and continued to do so even after Stewart made
every attempt to let Reed know he was in his way. You cannot tell me
this was not an intentional move. Stewart is faster than anyone on a
125 (or a 250 four stroke) in the world. Stewart was flexing his muscle
and letting Reed know that the battle has been waged and he was
victorious. It was not a bad decision on Stewart’s part, it was a
showdown, and I enjoyed every second of it. If Carmichael (or should I
say when Carmichael) clinches the 250 outdoor title, he will again be
faced with racing the 450F or maybe riding the 125’s. I know that if he
chooses to ride the 125’s, he is factoring in what people will be saying
if Stewart beats him, and the odds are Stewart will. My bet is
Carmichael saves the ego and goes for the 450F!
Keep up the good work.

I have been unsure whether I liked or disliked the Stewarts’ (father and son) attitude toward James’ dominance.
Seeing Mr. Stewart, father, pulling out the ‘chainsaw’ at the Phoenix supercross sent shivers through me. Who the hell displays that type of attitude at a race, the Unsers’, Earnhardts’, Pastranas’, Carmichaels’???? uh-uh
I think the fame is overwhelming the Stewart family and James’ Unadilla attitude is a direct reflection of his father.
What a shame.
My bet…..it is only going to get worse and the MX public will eventually despise the Stewarts’.
Keep it up Dirck – you guys are my favorite daily READ!!!

I disagree. Did he point a finger at the #2 guy in
the race? Did he rag on the guy in the post race
interview? So what if he slowed down to let him catch
up, it’s not that big of deal and your reading way,
way to much into it. The guy is black, and is the
first black guy I know of to get to this level. This
alone is phenomenal. I’m sure he looks to other Tiger
Woods and Micheal Jordan since they were on the same
level with their respective sports. And both of them
are cocky. Let him be a little cocky, he is doing
something no one has done.

Just to address your comments about James Stewart taunting the competition by slowing waiting for Chad Reed. Yes we all know he’s fast and no he did not win the Supercross championship. Remember he’s only 16 years old and the guys you compared him to Travis P. and Rickey C. were not as fast as James at 16. This young guy made a bad decision to slow down and play with the distant 2nd place rider, but who knows he may have gotten a little fatigue.
My honest opinion is he will win the 2003 125cc Supercross Championship and move to 250’s 2004 and break all of Rickey C’s records… He’s a blazing fast kid, a few years of pro experience he’ll be unstoppable.

Actually, it is my understanding that Stewart let Reed by because he keeps
hearing that he couldn’t race with Reed if Reed got the hole shot on him. So
he let him by to show that he could pass him with ease. I agree that either
reason is not very professional and I would hope that Kawasaki would council
him about it.
Your viewpoint seems to be a little overboard in it’s response to this
situation. I would strongly disagree with your view that it does not bode
well for his future. I don’t think it is possible to get to that level
without a HUGE ego. His just showed a little too much. This reminds me of
some of the negative press that surrounded Tiger Woods when he first turned
professional. Some of it was justified some not.
And like Tiger on the golf course, I saw Bubba do things with a motorcycle
that just can’t be done.
I really enjoy your web site. It is one of my daily “must reads”. Keep up
the good work.

First off, I should say, you have a great site that I read everyday. However, I
must take issue with your posting today on James Strewart. I thought it was too
harsh. Maybe the other riders you mentioned may not have done what he did last
weekend, and I am not condoning his actions. But keep in mind the kid is only
sixteen. Most importantly, you lost me when you made to leap to diagnosing
potential psychological problems and potential career issues.
To say this misjudgement, along with the fact that he threw away the WC
Supercross title means that the kid is a head case,
is very puzzling to me. I think he should be criticized, and encouraged to do
better, but not smeared as a head case. Please keep in mind, the world is your
stage, please use your soap box in a responsible manner.

Although I believe nothing will come of this email, I just found it
necessary to vent.
The article written by Mr. Edge I seemed to find a bit prejudice – both
theoretically and technically.
If Stewart was a 16 year old White kid would he have made such comments? How
is a 16 year old supposed to act? Isn’t he “a kid”? Does Mr. Edge have kids?
Does he have a 16 year old? Why not just recognize his skills for what they
are and stop trying to bash him…..

You might be right about Bubba being a bit cocky but he
certainly isn’t the first rider with this attitude and at least he backs it
up. Ironically, the rider he slowed down to race with has a bit of an
attitude as well. While competing in the 250 class at one of the
Supercross races this year, Chad Reed went down in the first turn and in
the post-race interview badmouthed RC. He said that Ricky must have wanted
it more than him alleging that RC took him out. The instant replay clearly
showed that he just got beat to the first turn and fell down on his own.
In at least 2 other interviews this year he displayed the same attitude
blaming other riders and making excuses. If there’s anything I can’t stand
more than a cocky young racer, it’s one that blames everyone else for his
lack of success. I can’t wait until Reed moves to the 250 class next year
and gets his butt kicked. I’m sure he’ll be full of excuses.

Bottom Line Up Front, If you don’t have something good to say
then don’t say anything at all. But then again, that’s why we have
journalist in this world!!

I read your article on James Stewart and I really disagree. Its a little
too critical to judge a young 16 year old on a comment that he made. Maybe
your just trying to find something to write about!! Maybe you are a little
jealous that he has the talent that he does. I personally did not
appreciate how negative the article described James Stewart.

I think your commentary on Stewart’s move at Unadilla is a little
harsh. First, he is very young and has every right to be cocky.
Second, if you have ever raced, you know it is much more exciting to be
racing in close quarters with other competitors rather than running by
yourself. So maybe he did it for fun. Or maybe he is far more mature
than you think he is and he did it to 1) physiologically demoralize Reed
(who is his nearest rival) – a tactic of many great champions, and 2) to
get some airtime. For the sponsors, this is all about money. If he
intentionally dropped back to have a battle which focuses all the
attention on him, rather than other battles on the track, then he is
showing a business maturity far beyond the average 16 year old. Before
you are so quick to blast someone like Stewart – in a media forum where
he has little change to respond – open your mind a little and try to
consider some other possibilities. Or ask the simple question – What’s
the reason to blast him in the first place? Just my opinion – and keep
up the otherwise good work!

Not since your piece on ESPN and Davey Coombs / David Bailey providing biased coverage have a I seen such a biased, opinionated, uninformed editorial on MD. First off, you have no way of knowing the actual reason Stewart slowed up. Even if he did slow up to battle with Reed I’m astounded that you refered to this as a cockiness that “introduces an element of uncertainty into James Stewart’s career”. WHAT A BUNCH OF CRAP!!!!!!!! Remarks such as this demonstrate how arrogant you really are. Do you somehow see yourself as being qualified to get into a professional racer’s head to determine what does or does not motivate that individual to be a successful racer. If Stewart did slow down to battle with Reed and if he is confident enough to pull a move like that, and talented enough to pull it off, did you ever consider the possibility that such a tactic would further his cause in totally psyching out the competition. You are in a totally different world than Stewart is in when it comes to motocross racing, it might be best you not try to figure out where his head is at. There are way to many variables coming into play for you to make the kind of harsh comments you made. MD’s credibility just spiralled way down in my eyes after reading this fairy tale of a story.

I think you’re a little over the top here. Stewart is faster that everyone else and he knows it. And yes he is maybe a little cocky. And he might just like to show off a little too. But give the kid a break. Most 16 year olds are fully of themselves and this ones no exception. However, this one just happens to have a boat load of talent to go along with it.
Shoot, if I was as fast as Stewart I’d stop and get a drink from my mechanic once I had a big lead. Actually I saw a local fast guy do just that in a race. It was the coolest thing I ever saw.
My point is, you’re probably the only one making a big deal out of what he did. Except for his competition. And if the truth be know, most of them would wish they had the talent to do something equally as cool.

I’m not really sure how to express my feelings that I have after reading your article about the kid Steward. I can think of many things that I’ve done at the age of 16 that would be far worse than slowing down in a race for the fun of it. The article really shows what type of person you are and the hate you have in your heart for this young kid. I know it hurts to see that with things being equaled in American how Afro-American can compete and smash the records of your hero’s. When you wrote that article I can feel your anger with another sport being smashed by a person of color. First is was track, then boxing, baseball, football, tennis, golf and now motorcycle racing. I wound think that with all we have been though in America and this past September 11, 2001 Americans could live together. But reading this article shows just how far we how to grow and for some, grow up. I personal think your the candid for evaluation when you attacking a Kid or being a Kid!

Your article is totally off base to suggest that this young man has some psychological problem because he wanted TV-time. Motocross is entertainment and I like most people like to be entertained.
People like to see competitive racing, but I’ve noticed that when Stewart is winning by a sizable margin the coverage of him circulating the track is marginal at best. I don’t notice this situation with other MX stars. Stewart is YOUNG and perhaps needs to mature. Give him time.
Your speculation on the young man’s physical condition is just that…speculation. In the media you have the power to shape public opinion, that’s okay, but your opinion about this young man was harsh and sounds like a personal attack. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to figure out the root of your opinion.
Check yourself.

Read with interest your comment on the Stewart move at Unadilla. Quite disturbing, to say the least! Even if he’s only 16, and probably quite immature, someone at Kawasaki has to teach this kid how to behave at the professional level. One day, his cockiness will bite him back!
I was bitten by the motorcycle bug back in ‘ 69 and raced motocross from 1970-73 (I’ll be 46 next Wednesday) and never heard of an incident like this at the Pro level, or at least not one with the intent that motivated Stewart’s actions.
Have you noticed that lately, many motorsports have become one man shows? Best example is Formula One, which while being the most expensive motor show on the planet, is the absolute most boring one, and for the past 5 – 6 years to boot!
Look at Motocross in the USA, Carmichael and Stewart. WSB, though much more interesting, it is the Bayliss Show (Ben is having such a lousy year…!). World Moto GP – the Rossi Show. In the (dying?) CART series – DaMatta, etc, etc.
On a related subject, your view on Windham’s future, I feel, is on the money. I wish him well for the next season, as the depth of talent in the 250 class is getting quite shallow, and as you well know, that makes for very boring racing.
Thank you for your informative website.