These “Privateer Showcase” interviews presented by Race Tech Suspension at MotoXAddicts tell the stories of the guys in the trenches week in and week out trying to chase their dream of racing professional Supercross. While the riders at the front of the pack get the money, the T.V. time and the glory that goes with it, there’s a huge pack of guys just hoping to get a spot inside a factory semi. We tell their stories.
This weeks “Privateer Showcase” is with Ride365.com’s Malcolm Stewart. One of the biggest surprises during the 2017 “Silly Season” was nobody signing Mookie to a contract for the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship series. Without a factory deal and still wanting to build on the momentum gained from winning the 2016 Eastern Regional 250SX Championship in ’16, Malcolm put a privateer deal together with his brother’s company, Seven, and Ride365.com, but a late start kept him off the line until the Anaheim 3 SX.
Right out of the gate at A3, Mookie showed he has the speed on the 450 to compete. He finished second in the first 450SX heat race of his career, but with crashes, rookie mistakes and a lack of race fitness he finished 18th in his first main event.
Unfortunately that trend of killing it in the heat races and struggling with crashes in the main events has continued throughout his freshman 450SX season. Over Malcolm’s first 12 rookie 450SX races, he has qualified directly out of his heat race in seven of them, and his average finish in the 2017 main events has been 14th. While Mookie is not blowing minds with his main event results, his heat race results have shown that the talent on the 450 is clearly there.
After his 14th in the Seattle main event, we talked to Malcolm about his race in Seattle, his season as a whole, the possibility of racing outdoors this year and if there are any prospects for a ride in 2018.
Malcolm, you finished 14th in Seattle, probably not a number you’re pumped on, but you did crash.
It was a little disappointing, but we went down. It’s been one of those… I don’t know what’s wrong. Me and the ground is a magnet right now. Overall, I’m pretty happy about myself. The last two races—St. Louis and even this weekend, believe it or not—my attitude and my mentality have been good. I’ve picked up some confidence in myself. As far as that, I’m happy. The results didn’t come tonight, but the track was tough. Everybody was crashing tonight. There were a lot of people that were all over the place. I crashed and I was stuck in the corner for probably 30 seconds, and I still managed to get 14th. At the end of the day, I still beat some factory riders, and it is what it is. You got to just look past that and keep moving forward; I’m not going to dwell on it. That was the best I could do.
The Seattle track was definitely one of the toughest of the year with the way it broke down. What’s the mindset going into a race at a track like Seattle? It’s not a condition you can really ever practice on. Is it a situation where you just know going in that you are probably going to have to take some uncomfortable chances?
Yeah, you’re literally going to have to take chances on a track like that, for sure. It’s all part of it, but like I said, we’re going to do the best that we can. We’ve been doing pretty good this year, but it’s been a hell of a year for us, being a privateer and me doing this on my own. I mean, each and every weekend at least I’m beating some factory riders, so I have to look at nothing but the positives, and I’ve qualified straight out of the heat races a couple times. I got it! My talent is there, and I know if anyone else out there was on my motorcycle, they probably wouldn’t do half of what I do. That’s the positives I’ve been doing, what I’m thinking about and what drives me into the next week.
Is it fitness or focus that’s been the issue in main events? You’ve been blazing fast at times, but the main events haven’t really gone your way. We have all witnessed your speed being at the races, and it’s definitely not your speed that’s holding you back right now.
The fitness is a little bit of it, but I started late and, when you start late, these are the results you’re going to get. Everybody knows that: there’s nothing worse than going in late. You can never really prepare for a race like this, especially moving up from the Lites class to being literally a rookie on the 450. It’s a whole other level. The way I look at it, honestly, I think I’m doing good. I’m not doing bad. I’m not doing terrible. For sure, I won the championship last year and I should be a little better than where I’m at, but when you’re a privateer doing everything you can possibly do, I don’t think you’re doing bad.
Is there anything in the works for you team-wise for next year? Have you talked to any teams about 2018 yet?
No, as far as I know I’m just trying to get through this year. We won’t be doing the same thing next year. I don’t have the budget to be doing it. I would do it if there was more support, but as far as money coming out of my pocket, I can’t do that. There’s a lot of people that have been helping me, but there’s still money coming out of my pocket, so I’m not making anything.
So there are no rumblings from people for next year?
No, no rumblings yet. There’s a lot of people getting hurt so that might open up some doors for outdoors and I’m definitely willing to do that.
Oh, so you are willing to go outdoors if the right opportunity came up? I wasn’t sure if that was something you wanted to do.
Yeah, I don’t have a problem with doing outdoors. The last couple of years it wasn’t my favorite, but things just weren’t working out right. The paper work wasn’t correct. As far as I’m concerned, if everything works out great and it makes sense, I’ll do it. I don’t have a problem racing outdoors.
People forget you’ve gotten it done outdoors in the past and even landed on a 450 podium in a moto at Budds Creek when you were with TLD in 2013. People forget and it’s been a while, but you can ride a 450 outside.
People do forget. It’s not like I’m a terrible 450 rider. I’ve been on the podium and gotten plenty of top fives but I don’t know, we’ll see. The only thing right now I need to focus on is these next three races, getting good results and go home.
What would make Malcolm Stewart happy in these final three SX races before you head home?
I want to qualify right out of the heat races and finish inside the top ten. That’s my goals for these last couple of races, and it’s easily achievable. I just have to stay off the ground.
Well, good luck these last three, and I appreciate you talking with us.