James Stewart and Kyle Chisolm racing Team San Manuel L&M Racing Yamahas - Dirt Rider Magazine

Team San Manuel Yamaha adds AMA Supercross, AMA Motocross National, and World Supercross GP Champion James Stewart to the championship winning private team.The team, based out of Southern California, held a rooftop press conference in Hollywood today announcing the addition of James Stewart, the return of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians as title sponsor through 2010 and the selection of their second 450 rider: Kyle Chisolm.While the majority of the focus of the event was directed at Stewart, the San Manuel sponsorship philosophy, the new bike for both riders and which races the team would compete in also piqued some serious interest.But really, Stewart was the center of attention.Team Owner/Manager Larry Brooks was quick to point out the importance of acquiring Stewart."On a wish list, he'd be at the very top," Brooks said. "We've partnered with the best manufacturer out there, we've got the best title sponsor out there and (now) we've got the best rider out there."Stewart will race a factory-level YZ 450F starting as early as next weekend at the US Open in Vegas. He'll then attend the Paris-Bercy Supercross in France and move into the AMA Supercross Series in January. Other races on his schedule include all X Games motocross competitions and selected Outdoor National rounds.

"I think the schedule will still definitely be tough. Hopefully it will be a little easier than before but still, at the end of the day, I'll be racing all year," Stewart said. "We'll definitely be going to some Outdoor rounds, hopefully I'll be picked for the Des Nations team again, we'll be going to all the X Games events and who knows; maybe we can go over and race in Europe a few times."Even though he's got the schedule figured out, that doesn't mean the recently crowned (and undefeated in 2008) AMA Outdoor National Champion is 100% race ready. In fact, his time on the bike posing for photographs and conducting interviews (where this one was taken) is the most seat time he's had on his new Yamaha."Tomorrow will be the first day I ride-I have to work on the weekend, again ! But it's all good. I'm really excited, I'm a lot happier than I've been in a long time as far as changing bikes and being able to do something different. I think it's going to be good. We'll see how tomorrow goes and I'm sure I'll be smiling," Stewart said."I think racing the US Open in a few days is going to be kind of tough as far as getting used to everything. For Bercy, I'll obviously have a little bit more time on the bike and from what I hear the Bercy race is supposed to be really cool."Along with a new team and new ride, Stewart is bringing a pile of new sponsors into his camp. And, for the first time, he feels he's the one making the decisions that affect him the most. RedBull is back in his corner covering his new Bell helmet with the RedBull scheme and, one of the most talked about switches is from longtime gear sponsor Fox Racing to his new supplier: Answer Racing."I was happy when I got the opportunity to come here and be involved in a lot more decisions," Stewart said. "When Answer stepped up I decided to do some things that I really wanted to do. For me, I'm happy about it. At the end of the day I can sleep at night knowing that I made the changes and it was exactly what I wanted to do."You know, Fox has always been great to me and I would never have anything bad to say about them. But now I get to open up and do some things that I've never been able to do before and I think it's going to be great."Smiling, enjoying his new team and expanding his own brand seem to be something Stewart is really looking forward to this year. With an entire program overhaul, he sees his new race team as a fresh start and one he's ready to start enjoying. He's even his own sponsor.James Stewart Entertainment, Stewart's own company, is on board with L&M; Racing, Yamaha and San Manuel as a major label on the team banners."James Stewart Entertainment is my company that I own," Stewart said. "I have a clothing line coming out very soon that'll be cool on and off the bike and I think it's something that I can just broaden out, give back to the sport with and be part owner of the team. I just wanted to do something a little different than everybody else, show my appreciation for the sport and to give it back. I think, for me, it's just cool to have that opportunity to have Larry (Brooks) let me in to be a part of the team. Hopefully, we'll do some riding schools and other stuff in the future that will be a lot of fun."Next to the Stewart media machine, Kyle Chisolm stands as a calm and cool teammate. He's equally excited about the team his 450 ride and the new Supercross season and beyond."As a whole; James, me, the team and everyone-we don't want to just race Supercross and then be gone for the whole year. We'll be out there to support our sponsors, the sport and ourselves for sure," Chisolm said.

Chisolm actually has some riding time on the bike, too."I've done a bit of testing this week-not too much, mostly some suspension testing just to get comfortable-but the bike is feeling awesome. I just want to keep putting time on it now and build from there. The US Open will be a good place to show where we're at (with the bike) so it should be good," he said.Somewhat surprisingly, both Stewart and Chisolm claimed the San Manuel sponsorship philosophy had a lot to do with their decision to ride for Larry Brooks' team. The tribe doesn't really have anything to sell at a Supercross race and they claim their whole point of sponsoring this race team is, "to sponsor an example for the youth."Tribe spokesman Roy Chacon emphasized this in his address to the press."We're trying to get a message out to the world, since these athletes are world-known, that by the wise decisions you make and the healthy lifestyle you choose to live you can attain the goals that you otherwise couldn't," Chacon said. "With these young men I think we can take this team and show the nation that we're not all about products or services we provide. We're about teaching these kids that by setting your mind to your goals you can do these things."With James and Kyle, when we're on the road at these races, we want to take them to areas, some Reservations and a lot of poverty stricken areas and just let them hang out with these kids and say, 'We're just like you. We put our pants on the same way and we've grown up in a lot of similar ways so set your goals and stick to them.' That's the main thing, really. We want to teach kids that whatever it is in life that they want to get, they can."Both Stewart and Chisolm are clearly on board with the ideology of the tribe."You know, being on the outside looking in for the last couple years San Manuel's been around and in the sport, I kind of looked at them as the Indian Casino that sponsored the team," Chisolm said. "But it's not the casino that sponsors it. It's the actual people that sponsor the team. A lot of the people in their community ride, they have a track and everything, and a lot of them are kids. I want to be a good example for those kids. I want to be a good person for the kids to look up to because they're really into the racing and riding. Whether it's racing and riding or just going to school and stuff, I want to be a good influence.""That was one of the reasons I came to this team," Stewart said. "You know, for me, as I came up as a young kid I never had a lot of money. So when we started talking and their story sounded a lot like mine it sort of just clicked. It was cool to see a sponsor that was really family oriented since I'm such a big family guy as you can see by all my family members that are with me at the races. I think it will be good. I think I fit in nicely with those guys and I'm excited to make some kids smile."Look for more James Stewart news on dirtrider.com and talk about the new team, sponsors and riders in our forums.

James Stewart was all smiles, with RedBull in hand, at today's press conference announcing his addition to the San Manuel Yamaha Supercross race team.
James Stewart
The 7 on blue. Used to it yet?
The 7 on blue, again. Still not used to it? Maybe by Anaheim?
James Stewart was mobbed by the press for a good two hours.