Mind of a Motorhead: Malcolm Stewart on living life on the edge (a little)


(Editor’s note: Mind of a Motorhead is a series in which motorsports athletes from various disciplines (such as Supercross’ Malcolm Stewart) will be analyzed according to surveys of their personalities. Series host Dr. Ken Carter, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology at Oxford College of Emory University, writes below on what he learned about Stewart in the latest episode.)

Malcolm Stewart of Haines City, Florida, is one of the top ten Supercross racers in the world, finishing sixth in the 2021 Monster Energy standings for the 450 class. He routinely battles 20 other riders in a juiced-up version of motocross in some of the biggest stadiums across the country.

As our first Supercross guest on NBC Sports’ Mind of a Motorhead series (watch the video above), Stewart spoke with me about his personality both on and off the track. I was surprised to hear Stewart reveal his true feelings behind a central part of his sport — the jumps.

Despite how frightening his sport looks, Stewart says he’s not up to doing frightening things:

“Can’t do scary movies … nope … no airplanes, bungee jumping.”

This reaction to potentially terrifying things isn’t too surprising since Stewart scored relatively low (2 out of 10) on thrill and adventure seeking, a part of a personality questionnaire called the sensation-seeking scale that describes how much a person likes to do frightening things.

Stewart explained: “I’m definitely the type of guy where I love adventure … but when it comes to thrill, there’s is a fine line to that. I’m actually really scared to jump things … but for some reason, I’ll do it.”

So why does he do it? He says the risk is worth the reward.

“There’s definitely a risk to everything,” Stewart said. “But there’s always a reward… If you want to be successful in life, you’ve got to live on the edge.”

While Stewart scored low on thrill-and-adventure seeking, he scored fairly high (8 out of 10) on disinhibition.

Disinhibition is part of the sensation-seeking scale that describes how likely you are to dive into things without thinking them through. Those who score low on disinhibition always look before they leap. Those who score high jump feet first into things and think about consequences later.

“Yeah, that’s probably me,” Stewart said, noting that every now and then he finds himself in a situation that he didn’t expect to be in. “You’re like, ‘Oh man, I really need to dig myself out of the situation. So how can I figure it out?’ Yes, that is definitely 100 percent me.”

Curious about your score on Sensation Seeking? You can take a test at this link or read more about sensation seeking in my book, “Buzz! Inside the Minds of Thrill Seekers, Daredevils and Adrenaline Junkies”.

You can watch the video above or by clicking here or you also can watch by subscribing to the Motorsports on NBC YouTube channel.

EPISODE 1: Scott Dixon embraces thrill-seeking personality for calm amid chaos

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”