Malcolm, who is seven years younger than James, has often been overshadowed by his older brother’s success. After receiving a factory sponsorship earlier this year, he raced in the Lites Class (250cc motorbikes) for Geico Honda. More uncertainty surrounded whether James Stewart could defend his Open class title.
You can maybe get away with one small mistake but not two.” “My initial response was that it reminded me of Excitebike that I played as a little kid,” Ryan Dungey says, referencing the Nintendo motorbike video game popular in the 1990s.
“Turning that into a real-life situation was definitely exciting and I thought it could have a lot of potential.” Dungey was on hand to test the prototype course that Red Bull built outside of San Diego in November 2013. Although the day was intended as an exhibition, impromptu races quickly ensued, like the one between Dungey and Marvin Musquin.
The Stewarts grew up in Haines City, Fla., and trained at the practice track that their father, James Stewart Sr., built in the family’s backyard. Throughout the entire afternoon in the 95-degree heat, it was Malcolm Stewart who was the most dominant rider.
approached the starting gate for his semifinal race at the inaugural Red Bull Straight Rhythm last October, Rene Zapata, Stewart’s mechanic, offered a final piece of advice.
“I don’t care if he’s your brother,” Zapata told Stewart.
The positive feedback generated by the proof of concept prompted Red Bull to hold the inaugural event in October 2014 at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif.
The track was built on the Auto Club Raceway—usually the site for NHRA drag races—and 32 of the top Supercross and Motocross riders competed in a best-of-three, bracket-style tournament to crown the Open class and 250cc class champions. He then went on to sweep the final against Justin Brayton and win the Open class title “I should have lost at least one race to him [Malcolm],” James admitted.
“You need to smoke him.” At a typical Supercross race, Stewart would have to worry about other opponents besides Malcolm Stewart, his younger brother.
But the Red Bull Straight Rhythm is not a typical race.
“It’s so much different from what we normally ride.
The format is also fun but kind of nerve-wracking because you only have three runs to beat the guy next to you.
The event features head-to-head racing on a half-mile straight rhythm section that consists of 80 jumps of various heights and distances. Compared to a Supercross main event race with its 20 laps, Straight Rhythm is a sprint.
“Last year I wasn’t prepared for the speed of the track,” James Stewart says.