Friday, 5 February 2016

Travis Pastrana interview: The action sports legend on his four-wheel career

While in the United Kingdom for this year's Nitro Circus Live World tour, I briefly caught up with action sports legend Travis Pastrana to discuss his four-wheeled motorsport career to date.

As well as a successful rally career, which yielded four Rally America titles between 2006-2009, Pastrana has also made 16 Red Bull Global Rallycross starts (winning once), 44 NASCAR starts, and a run in the 2012 24 Hours of Daytona. He has also claimed two gold and a bronze medals in Rally Car Racing at X Games.



Travis Pastrana Interview

Dominik Wilde: You're known for your two wheeled exploits so how did you get started off on four wheels in the first place?

Travis Pastrana: At two my Dad built, we were welders and construction so we had a little bit of an area, and when I was two years old he got me a eight horsepower Briggs and Stratton, built the go kart, welded it all himself, it was just a piece of crap; didn't turn very well, didn't go very well but I rolled it and then he built a roll cage on it when I was...before I turned three (laughs). So I've always been driving everything that I could but obviously the financial...the motorcycles were a lot cheaper and my Dad raced so it was something we always did on weekends and then I was able to take those sponsors into four wheels which was always what I had really enjoyed doing.

Dominik Wilde: And later on you became one of the first drivers in GRC. Of course, that originally stemmed from the X Games and the one-on-one competition there but what are your earliest memories of GRC back in 2011?

Travis Pastrana: Well Global Rallycross I thought was really cool. It started out, y'know we'd always seen the European rallycross stuff and the US rally, I always had an eye on the WRC. I actually had the chance to come to Sweet Lamb, not too far from here considering, when I was 17 with Alpinestars and Subaru and kind of kept the ties open from there so that's kind of how I got my foot in the door there. 

But it was cool because when it started we had really huge jumps, a lot of cars were broken - including my car (laughs), but we had a lot of fun with that and I think the crowd really liked the over-under jumps and it was a pretty Americanised sport. Now I feel like the World [Rallycross Championship] courses are significantly better. They have a lot of dirt, a lot of jumps, a lot of pavement, whereas the US courses aren't...we haven't got big enough to build our own so we're kind of on other courses and it's been, I shouldn't say a crapshoot, but it's really difficult to break free and get through that first turn. Rallycross really started from the X Games in the US where it was head-to-head but not against everyone on the course, so I think rallycross is definitely where it's going, it's getting much more popular, and the courses are getting better so I'm looking forward to taking a note out of the Europeans' book even though when they came over they cut all our jumps, which sucks, but they did make the racing better.

Dominik Wilde: Back in the early days you drove the well-known Dodge Dart, one of the first manufacturer-backed cars in the series, now there's quite a few of them, what do you remember about the big Dart?

Travis Pastrana: (Laughs) Well the Dart was definitely too big for rallycross. It was a pretty decent car, we had a decent motor, could get some good starts, hard to pass because it was really big and we were able to get the one win on the course that had a bunch of these little bumps that all of the other cars were going nose down and the Dart was so big it would just like sail these jumps! And then it had one 70-foot jump that was at the end of a really long straighaway so everyone was coming down and hitting the brakes, getting their speed right and the taking off. Well from motorcross I'd lock the brakes up all the way off the takeoff and before I got to the top I'd let go and hit the gas and it'd pop the nose up and the Dart, it flew so well because it was so much bigger. But it was definitely more difficult on the parking lot races. I feel like a lot of our races were kind of, especially in those couple of years. We were trying to fit in the NASCAR venues, trying to fit in venues that was really good for exposure, but very difficult racing spots.

Dominik Wilde: Now we don't see you too much any more, it's more at the X Games and LA, do you reckon we could see you do a full campaign again in the future?

Travis Pastrana: For me I really love rally. I love rallying, I love driving in the woods but, I mean, I do like rallycross, I just haven't had the time like...the guys are very, very close. They're very, very good. I enjoy it but I'd rather be in the woods so I only have maybe six weekends off of Nitro Circus so I try to, if possible, find a woods rally.

Dominik Wilde: You mentioned that you love driving anything, is there anything that you've not tried that you perhaps want to? We've seen you in sports cars, we've seen you in NASCAR, we've seen you in rallycross; is there anything else want to do that you haven't done or maybe go back to?

Travis Pastrana: Yeah. Well I was really bad at NASCAR so anything that I really suck at makes me want to go and get better at it. So kind of with the GRC as well I felt like we were definitely a contender for the wins and the championships at the beginning and we've kind of just fallen off the pace a little bit with my car driving stuff, got a lot more back into my car driving stuff with the motorcross. I felt like I kind of go in circles, like I get really into motorcross then I had a lot of injuries and I get tired of being hurt and I just love...I get bored, I wont to be competitive, and then I get into rally and we go full bore in rally for two, three, four years and then I'm healthy enough where I kind of get back in the bike so I say give knees are starting to feel it again so give me another year or two and I'll be back racing some cars! (laughs)

 Images: Lars Gange, Garth Milan, Christian Pondella, (Red Bull Content Pool), Matt Kalish

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