Travis Pastrana – Interview
A while ago now, (a year or two), we met Travis Pastrana with his Nitro Circus buddies including Andy Bell, to talk about his life on the Motor bike and in the car. Although many things have happened since with his step into Nascar it gives a bit of an historical insight into how he got into what he is doing today (Nascar). The Interview never saw the light of day in English… well here it is now! Enjoy.
Meeting Travis Pastrana was an interesting experience, you are not really sure how he will be, but the first thing you learn is how much energy for life and sport he has, and how friendly and fun he is.
Travis is living a life most children dream of, now easily recognized everywhere he goes in North America, and well recognized in Europe, he has become famous for his stunts and the lifestyle he lives.
However beneath the outside you can see a person who is focused and believes in his sports, and lives for his sports. He likes to teach people tricks on an MX bike, he likes to live at the extreme end of the sports he does, he watches other people and tries to improve or develop further what they are doing, so Speaking to Travis Pastrana is a way to look into the mind of all top sports men. We had the opportunity to be with them for a few hours and Eat with them in a restaurant in Prague. The rest is Travis’s story and what he thinks about FMX and his other driving sports.
Most People who have been following freestyle motocross have followed what you have been doing all these years, what are you doing now?
I’m doing pretty much whatever I feel like, I wake up every morning with a smile on my face and Nitro circus has been great traveling around having fun with all my friends, thinking of the craziest thing to do wherever we go and just do it. It’s been a good year, except for x-games where I had been working on that trick, (the 720) for about two and a half years, it just wasnt quite ready for x-games, I Landed it afterwards, but it doesn’t really count. But I won the Rally Championship this year (2009) as well in the USA, so that was the main focus.
How did you get interested in Rally? Was it Ken Block who got you in?
Actually Ken Block got in to rally after me, I changed sponsors 5 or 6 years ago and Ken told me if I get you this contract you have to get me to race as well, as I had just signed with Subaru the year before. Rally is something I always really enjoyed doing, I had a go-Kart at 2 years old, I rolled (crashed) my first car at 9 years old, I was always driving, my family has had a construction company so I was always driving machines around my house, and jumping whatever I could! When I was 16 I got the opportunity to win motocross for Aplinestars, and they said if I won, they would take me to drive a World Rally car, but I was out of the points and they came through and I drove a WRC car when I was 16 years old, THAT WAS AWESOME!!!! So if I was hurt from motocross I would just always drive cars!
With motocross, there are two guys doing (at the time) what you started and did perfectly with the double backflip, is it a trick that should keep being done?
I only did it once…… people do it with BMX and people started doing it in 2001 and a few other guys started trying to do it, one broke their neck and was paralyzed, so everyone stopped, then just a year ago, Cam Sinclair and Scott Murray started doing it.
You are going to crash on a double flip, It is just like a single flip learning it, but you have a lot of time with the single flip to see your landing, but with the double flip you really dont know where you are, it is easy in a foam pit but you really dont know where you are if you dont make the rotation perfectly on distance, so it will hurt if you don’t get it right.
If you stop thinking at anytime then you will have problems, Scott Murray for example is very good at getting out of the double flip if it is not going right.
Scott crashes alot as if he is not sure he moves his shoulder and he will land sideways which means he doesnt hurt himself, although he has had a lot of shoulder problems but he has been really safe, so if you do it that way and wear a lot of pads, the double backflip is not a difficult trick, its a fucking committed trick, so it is dangerous in that sense. You cant look if you do then you slow the trick down. The problem is at the halfway point it takes so much commitment and when you see it on dirt for the first time, you are 12 metres above the ground, it is a little bigger than any other trick in height. When you see the ground come around for the first time, you think OH shit i’m really high.
How was your family when they saw you do the double flip?
My parents are very supportive, but the reporters and journalists really annoyed my mother as they kept coming up to her asking if she was worried, and saying your son will probably die this afternoon how does that make you feel? I said to her that “ Mom, I wouldn’t do anything I couldn’t do, I know it will work well.” I felt really angry with all the reporters as it was unfair. At the X-games she is nervous every year, but I always do something im not sure of 100 percent. So it is understandable. I go there because I am pushing myself, if I feel I am pushing myself then I go there and push myself. If not I will not do it. I normally tell my family to stay home, because they get so stressed out watching.
The bike you are using how is it?
The bike has slightly different suspension, and all the general specific modifications, I invented the flip levers with a guy down the road. If anyone ever said oh you can’t do this trick like the super flip, I would ask why cant you do it, then we would make something that would let us do it. Also they said oh you cant do a no handed flip, then we developed the thing to put your foot under on the bike. You don’t need a fast bike for freestyle, but its good if it looks nice shiny good graphics.
Can every thing be done on a 4 stroke?
I don’t like 4 strokes, you can do stuff on them but they are sleepy, I have not a precise riding style, when I want to go left, I want to go left, if I am too short I want to be able to recover it. You cant do that on a 4 stroke. A 4 stoke suits someone who is really relaxed with their riding style and tricks. I need a bike that when you tell it to do something it reacts. That is a 2 stroke for me.
What are you doing now with freestyle verses rally?
Freestyle I always enjoyed the most. Although I have a foam pit in the garden, and I use it more than I should especially in the middle of the rally season, and my manager says to me don’t get hurt on the motocross bike, and even the Nitro Circus people tell me dont get hurt in the time we are not working, I tell them though “You know what you accepted when you signed the contract with me!!!!”
There are always people at my house and I see something and think, “Ahhhh if you can do that then maybe we can do something else.” I really like the creative side of the sport. If I can do something no-one else on earth is doing.
Do you feel creative, or a sportsman achieving a goal?
For me freestyle is fun, it is about pushing what people say can be done on a dirt bike, I have spoken to intelligent people in science and they say you can’t do this, but then I think no! watch me!
That is what I like about freestyle, you can do things that no-one thought was possible. In freestyle you can add your own flair, there is no way to judge who is the best, it is not true, it is all style, Edgar Torenteras never scored high in competitions because he always had more flair, and was more for the crowd, he never played to the judges. I could watch him ride all day! He is amazing! Edgar doesn’t care about winning he will do a trick, that the judge can’t even see. He might crash because he is doing it for the crowd and for himself.
Did you learn off Edgar?
For sure, he was the Extra Terestrial, he was amazing, when I was growing up and I was 12 or 13 years old, we were number one and number two in my first freestyle competition, he was the guy I aspired to be. I took that as freestyle I wanted to win, because I am competitive, but I want the crowd to be standing on their feet! I don’t care what they judge about me. But I did miss racing when doing freestyle, I secretly enjoyed hating my competitors, I like hitting and being aggressive against mike brown, he broke his foot I broke my pipe, this is fun!!! We came off the track laughing, and I miss that in freestyle.
Are you ever going to do Erdsberg again?
No way! I do things for fun an to win, I will never win that event, and it is not fun!!! (it is really difficult) I finished it, thats it i;m out of it. It was a good time, if some of my friends go back maybe I go back.
Last question, The Driving, you are 25 what is your long term Idea?
My idea is to be like John Buffan, who is 65-70 years old and still drives amazing! Just still be doing what I love to do, and if that is driving cars as I wont be able to ride dirt bikes, I love MX but my dad when he was 50-55 years old, but he can’t get better if he hurts himself, if he broke his wrist he cant ride for a whole year! But in a car you are ok, you can still drive, but when I was 21 there was a 60 year old smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer, and winning everything, I was thinking, wow this is what I want to be like and I think racing and driving is a sport that I can do for a long time.
I am a really competitive Person!!!! Freestyle is fun, Nitro Circus (On MTV) is fun, but once or twice a year I have to push myself, that is where Rally is good for me.
Are you ever going to race in the WRC?
No, it is different than USA rally, WRC is survival, USA Rally is a race. For me I was never good at fixing cars, or good at keeping cars together, I just want to drive really fast. And that is what USA Rally is really good for. (and now Nascar!)
What is your opinion about the WRC Rally drivers?
If I drive all out, I go their speed for one stage, they drive the whole rally, I can make some good stage times, but I never win a stage, there is always someone who drives faster for a stage, the WRC the drivers are amazing, top 5 in a Finish local event is really hard, there are Granmothers, that can drive faster than the top racers in the USA! They start driving younger, they are amazing, group B days are amazing as they have power but no traction, I enjoy driving something that can’t be controlled, now the cars are setup so well that drivers like Sebastian Lobe are amazing, but it is sometimes boring as he has precise breaking points, it is like driving a road car, I think even Marcus Stronnholm, is one of the last drivers who just drives sideways!
Thank you very much and good luck!!
A few developments have obviously gone by since doing this interview but all in all he is now proving good to his word and racing Nascar and doing quite well. Below is a video of one of his latest projects from SweatPants media which charts his current activities on the track and that of his friends around him.
Video of Travis Pastrana and Nascar