James Stewart was presented with the 2008 AMA SPEED Athlete of the Year Award during the end-of-year Awards Banquet at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.

Stewart had an incredible year in the AMA Motocross Championship, winning a perfect 24 out of 24 motos to claim his first outdoor title in the premier class.

"This is one of my highest honours," Stewart said. "After seven years, I finally did something good enough to win this. The [motocross] season didn't start for me in May. It started when I got hurt two weeks into [the Supercross season]. It had been three years in a row that I haven't finished the outdoor season, and I was sitting in the hospital thinking, again, that my year was done before it even started."

Instead, Stewart's season was one of the greatest in history, with Stewart becoming only the second rider ever to complete a perfect outdoor record. The first was Ricky Carmichael, who accomplished the feat twice.

Stewart has switched from Kawasaki to Yamaha for the 2009 season, when he will attempt to win back the Supercross title from Chad Reed, but looks unlikely to defend his Motocross crown.