With the sun setting over the top of Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, droves of Supercross fans funneled into their seats in preparation for round number 16 of the 2011 AMA Supercross series. Though the party appeared to just be getting started as the opening ceremony fireworks exploded, the pit area had already been bustling with action since the early-morning hours.
A Supercross “night show” may only occupy three hours, but the work-day for teams and riders actually spans in excess of 15, and few people approach it with more focus and determination than Red Bull’s James Stewart and his San Manuel Yamaha squad.
Between a track walk, riders’ meeting, media interviews, autograph signings, practice and, of course, racing, James is one busy guy come race day. Arriving at the track early in the morning and leaving well past midnight as the team transporters roll off the stadium grounds, Stewart’s wheels never stop turning on Supercross Saturday.
Check out this insider’s view into JS7’s day while in the midst of a heated championship battle in SLC...
One of the race-day constants is the mandatory riders’ meeting, and immediately following you can always find James at a special chapel service hosted for the SX tour’s riders and teams. Here, James attends with his mom, Sonya, to begin his day with some positive messaging.
The first interview of the day with motocross legend Jim Holley was just one of many throughout the SLC event. Stewart and the rest of the top riders on tour get approached by television networks, local media, endemic magazines, sponsors, and so on…
The SLC track walk got underway after a small delay in the schedule caused by a light snow shower. Track walks allow the riders and teams an opportunity to walk the surface, discuss race strategy, and eyeball the obstacles before rolling out for the first practice session of the day.
Team members and sponsors surround Stewart just moments before he hits the track for the first practice session of the day - a normal happening to make any last-second adjustments to the bike and his safety equipment.
With a freshly-prepped bike, James hit the track for the first of two timed qualifying sessions in SLC. As he has at the majority of the races this year, Stewart set the fastest lap time of the two sessions, and thus was awarded with the number one gate pick for his heat race later in the evening.
One thing James always makes time for is his loyal fans. Hundreds lined up outside of his team hauler in Salt Lake City to get a chance to meet the superstar and collect a personally-signed JS7 poster.
After one last practice session and some much-needed personal time in his luxury bus, James emerges from under the tent in total race mode as he walks toward the evening’s opening ceremonies.
Sporting his usual headphones and pumping whatever was inspiring him in SLC, Stewart hitched a ride from his mechanic Oscar Wirdeman into Rice-Eccles Stadium to await the start of his heat race while some curious fans looked on.
James prefers time alone with his headphones while watching the heat races before his. Studying the fast lines on the track and watching what his competition is showcasing, Stewart is a true student of the sport.
After dominating his heat race in SLC, James signals in appreciation to his screaming fans as he returns to the pit area to prepare for the main event.
With a packed stadium and the rest of the top-20 qualifiers’ bikes rumbling in the gates beside him, Stewart somehow blocks it all out to focus on the task at hand.
With the 30-second board in the air, Stewart’s jacket came off and a last-second goggle switch was made in preparation for the 20-lap main event. When the gates dropped just moments later, JS7 rocketed down the start straightaway and into the early lead.
With all the day’s work and a championship on the line, Stewart was pushing the envelope out front as he slowly began extending a lead over the rest of the pack, but an unfortunate mistake and resulting crash on lap number eight would relegate him to a tenth-place overall finish when the checkers eventually waved.
With the race in the books and the crowd filtering out of the stadium, James headed straight into a team meeting where the race was analyzed and series strategy was discussed. Meanwhile, the rest of his crew began breaking down the pit area in anticipation of their transporter’s journey south to Las Vegas for the series finale.
- James powers to the win in Seattle
- Get a close-up look at Stewart's Yamaha YZ450F
- James to appear in the new MX vs. ATV Alive video game