Just like another high-profile African American sportsman, James Stewart refuses to bow down to those ’fans’ who are never going to like him…
The subject of the Stateside feature story in this month’s Dirt Bike Rider, James Stewart has been arrested in Florida for ‘impersonating a police officer’. As details have begun to trickle in, it seems that he and a buddy pulled out lights to pull over a car or something like that. Then instead of getting behind that car they pulled alongside it, at which point the driver of the car flashed his badge indicating he was a cop and Stewart freaked out and fled the scene. He and his friend were arrested at the airport in Orlando, Florida.
Stewart and I have had more than our fair share of differences over the years. He can be aloof with the media and he can flat-out be a pain in the butt to talk to when he’s not in a good mood. Usually, once you can get to him, he’s a really good interview and he has insightful stuff to say but getting there is a bit of a pain sometimes. I actually had to fly in to Jacksonville, Florida, two days early in order to get the interview with Stewart that culminated in that story you see in this issue. But, in the end, he delivered.
Having said all of that, this whole ‘impersonating a police officer’ thing is such nonsense it’s hard to wrap my head around it. It was obviously a joke. He was driving a super-high Toyota Tundra pick-up truck. It looked like a monster truck. I think the only reason the cops pulled over was because they were cops and wanted to bust this guy for messing around with a police light he bought at the local swap meet. There’s no way any sane person would believe it was the police behind them in a giant, black Toyota Tundra.
While what he did was incredibly stupid and reckless it wasn’t malicious. To treat him like a hard-core criminal for putting a light on his dash is ridiculous. But, alas, this is life in America – the land of the free to do as the government says you should do. I do find it interesting that I left out a quote in his story because it didn’t seem to fit and it fits now so I’m going to include it here.
He was talking about how some people just don’t like him and they’re never going to. He’s not going to win them over. And then he talked about Tiger Woods and the stuff he has gone through in his personal life but how Woods has worked to better himself as a result.
“I think I’m a person that every time I line up on the gate something is going to happen,” Stewart said prior to the Jacksonville round. “I’m going to try to win. And I’m proud of myself for being that. And I think people have judgments about me but I think it’s a good thing when people talk negative about you. It means you’re doing something pretty good. There’s always somebody who can probably find something wrong with the three laps I rode at Daytona or what I did here or the way I walk or dress. And then that’s just life.
“You know, I look at Tiger Woods and even after that whole thing that went on with him I think I respect him more because for a guy to be beat down and humiliated in public, to lose his family and still come out and say ‘you know what? I’m sucking right now. I’m not that good but I want to be the best still’. I look at that as, like, that’s what I’m doing, you know? For sure, I definitely could ride better but I’m in second, 26 points behind. I had people saying that I was quitting and all this stuff, you know, trying to humiliate me.
“But I’m still here and I’m still going to try to win this championship and I’m still going to come back and do it. And so, for me that’s what I look up to, just to be able to sit here and take all the blows and say ‘you know what? I’m not going anywhere. You guys can give up on that. It doesn’t bother me’.”
We’ll see if he can live up to that now.