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5 Minutes with...Travis Pastrana

by Ken Faught

Maryland’s Travis Pastrana is the type of person who has been there, done that. Given his amazing accomplishments, people typically think that he’s much older than his 25 years. He’s had a successful minicycle career, helped start the freestyle movement, won an AMA 125cc National MX championship, and recently won X Games and the 2008 Rally America National Championships for Team Subaru. We caught up with Travis at Pole Position Raceway in Las Vegas where he was enjoying a private day of racing with his team.

  • Travis is clearly supporting DC Shoes'
Racer X: You have proven yourself to be one of the best all-around racers in the world. What are your plans for next year?
Travis Pastrana: Thanks! I've been lucky enough to use motocross as a platform to branch out into other worlds of racing, but for now, rally is my number one focus. I've cut down on my World Rally Car effort to start a show with MTV though. We are filming now and amazingly all of us are still in one piece. Unless you count Eric Roner's broken pinkie finger! Anyway, we are filming episode five of twelve and it will air early next year keeping our video name, Nitro Circus.

Will we see you at any FMX events next year?
I still ride every week for fun and I love competition, but I hate to lose and don't have enough time to put in the effort it takes to win. It's funny because my entire amateur career all I ever wanted to do was race on the top level. When I got there, the thing I enjoyed the most about my career was being able to come home and ride with my friends. Luckily, most of my friends are the best in the world, so I still get to push myself. Short answer is, yes I will compete, but I will choose my battles carefully!

Your friend Jim DeChamp tried the front flip at the X Games and ended up with a broken back. How’s he doing, and have you tried a front flip yet?
Jim is doing fine after the broken back and is filming as part of the Nitro Circus with the other cast members Street Bike Tommy, Jolene van Vugt, Eric Roner and Andy Bell.  He's tough and I think his pride was hurt more than his broken back. Jim can front flip almost anything and adapted so quick to flipping the motorcycle that I thought it wouldn't be difficult to learn. I was wrong! The foam pit is softer than dirt but you can only take so many lawn darts with a 220-pound bike on top of you. That trick is not for me. 
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What’s the next big trick that we will see unveiled in FMX?
The biggest change you will see in the next couple years will be the track design. At my house I have grind rails, over vert ramps for flairs and hip jumps to link the corners. As far as tricks, most of the old-school FMX riders didn't realize we would be flipping and spinning dirt bikes. The first kid that comes from a gymnastics background and can ride dirt bikes will take this sport up five levels.

What’s the coolest thing about rally racing?
I've never liked team sports or doing mechanical work growing up, but I enjoy that part of rally. No matter how deceiving the road may look, if we're driving on ice, mud, without lights in the dark or through the fog, if my co-driver says "flat" I don't lift and if he says “turn,” I turn. If we roll the car, we roll it back over and if we take off a wheel, we throw it in the trunk and find a way to keep driving. Rally is always changing and a lot of fun. 

Would you like to try your hand at any other type of car racing, and if so, what would it be?
I enjoy all types of racing and have raced everything from lawn mowers to monster trucks. I do better on the dirt so C.O.R.R. (Championship Off-Road Racing) seems to fit well, but I'm not that interested in circuit racing.  

Have you ever done any NASCAR or IndyCar testing, and do those forms of racing interest you?
I have driven a restricted NASCAR and an old F1 car but nothing serious. My head has had too many KOs to take the Gs of IndyCar. I don't have the precision to compete in F1 and any series that races every weekend is no longer a sport, NASCAR is a job! Having said that, I did one circle track race in Florida and I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed the racing aspect of it. I qualified poorly and was barely hanging onto the back of the pack at first. But I started adjusting my style to make it work the way I knew how to drive, instead of driving how the car was set up. A hundred laps later I had top three lap times and was passing a car almost every lap. I think Ricky Carmichael will find that with oval racing; it's more about the car than the driver, but the driver's feedback makes the car.

What’s the craziest thing that you’ve seen or heard of someone doing on a motorcycle lately?
Jim DeChamp did a long grind the other day using the front fork tube, the footpeg and rear axle bolt. Also, Fredrik Johansson pulling off the flair at X Fighters after only two weeks of practicing. It was shocking! Bilko's (Blake Williams) no-handed and heelclicker 360s are completely insane as well. The world is stepping up!
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