To keep up with Travis and his busy life, follow him on Instagram @travispastrana
Follow Nitro Circus on Instagram @nitrocircus to see what crazy stunts they have up their sleeves
To keep up-to-date on the Red Bull Straight Rhythm race this weekend, follow us on Instagram @twmxdotcom
Travis Pastrana | Straight Rhythm And More
By Brendan Lutes
Photos courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool
What is there to say about Travis Pastrana that hasn’t been said already? The “Wonder Boy”, as he is referred to in the action sports world, is a man of many talents—former National Motocross Champion, Supercross Champion, Freestyle MX gold medalist, NASCAR driver, Rally car driver, and Nitro Circus front man. It’s difficult to list something that Travis isn’t good at, and when the Red Bull Straight Rhythm was announced, he was one of the first to throw his name in the hat. In true Pastrana fashion, though, he will be racing a fire-breathing 500cc two-stroke. We caught up with him this week, in order to get some insight into Straight Rhythm, as well as what he has been up to with Nitro Circus and his busy schedule.
The Red Bull Straight Rhythm is coming up this weekend. What are your plans for that?
I’m going to show up, ride, and have a lot of fun. Although, I heard that it’s going to be around 107 degrees and I’m way too old to be signing up for that kind of crap (laughs). Honestly, Chase Garrett and I were at the first Big Buck Championships about five years ago, and he came up with the idea of Straight Rhythm and he wanted to pitch it to Red Bull. I was like, “Dude that is brilliant!” It’s everything that I love about riding. Ever since I blew out my ACL when I was 12, corners have kicked my butt. I love to be jumping, going through whoops, and I love to have speed going into stuff. I like Supercross, because I like the jumps, but I’ve always felt that you never have enough speed going through the whoops to really be able to take advantage of being good at the whoops. I just thought that Straight Rhythm would be a good track for someone that is aggressive and likes to, not necessarily take chances, but get outside their comfort zone of speed—start doing quads and bigger jumps. It took a while for this idea to come to fruition, and then I saw it last year and was thinking, “You guys kept me out of the loop?! You have a trial race and don’t even call me? (laughs)” So when this race came about, I told them to sign me up.
You’re riding a 500 two-stroke, though, which has to be pretty gnarly?
It is wild! The biggest problem, though, is that I can’t start it. I ride two-strokes, because I hate starting four-strokes, and when I started this thing for the first time, I almost blew out my knee (laughs). I’m hoping there is a hill somewhere to bump start it. I’ve only ridden it one day and burnt a tank of gas just playing around on the bike. When I came back in, one of my shrouds had fallen off. Then I looked around and found that more than half the bolts on the bike had fallen out. It wasn’t like a brand new bike either, but it vibrates so much, that we had to Loctite everything. It’s ridiculous. I cannot imagine racing this thing in an outdoor race. But the cool part… Seat bouncing—holy crap, it’s on a whole new level! The 450s nowadays are amazing, but they still have the smooth four-stroke power. The 500 is just violent and can be ripped out of your hands, but it will also throw you over some pretty big gaps. I’ve been jumping stuff that I wouldn’t have even thought was possible.
Are you going to have to change your game plan and technique since you’ll be on a 500?
I’d imagine I’ll probably have to do everything just about the same. There’s nothing that I can do—even with all the power—that James Stewart can’t do as well (laughs). Everyone else is probably thinking, “How hard can I scrub that?” I don’t know how to scrub, but with the 500, I’m just going to see how many jumps I can skip on my way through the rhythm lane. It should be interesting. It kind of depends on the track. Usually everyone kind of ends up doing the same thing, but every now and then, there is that one seat-bounce jump or something that you can go into a little faster that will separate guys.
How is it going through whoops on the 500?
I shifted up to fourth through some whoops on accident the other week. We have a section of whoops at my house that is long and ends up taking off a jump at the end [a lot like a dragon’s back] and leads into a tabletop 50 feet away that then jumps off to a single. I was going so fast halfway through the whoops that I thought I was going to skip the whole tabletop. I ended up staying on it and went all the way over from where the whoops end, over the tabletop, and over the next single. Afterwards I was looking at it, and it was probably about 100 feet off the whoop section to the single. I mean, I don’t want to do it again, but if there is something like that at the Straight Rhythm, I’ll be able to shift up a gear and just go.
We’ve been seeing all the crazy Nitro Circus clips of you jumping into a huge airbag, but what do you guys have going on?
Oh man… What I have the most fun doing—and kind of like everyone—is getting with friends, having fun, building jumps, and trying stuff that challenges us. I feel like for a while that—not that I retired from Freestyle, but I had some surgeries and was healing up—I just got bored with the 75-foot ramp. It’s the same for Thomas Pages. Everyone is calling him a cheater for going to X Fighters with his own ramps, but he feels that we’ve maxed out the potential of the normal ramps. They’re the same ramps we’ve used since 2001, and it’s the same for BMX. Jolene Van Vugt landed a double backflip on a 50-foot gap off a 15-foot tall takeoff on a BMX bike. It was huge! We’re slowly building the landings to where we need them, and we’re going almost 50 feet above a 50-foot tall landing. Pages has these 720s on lock to the airbag, but he’s like, “Man we’re dropping from outer space.” I just want to see what’s possible, and that’s what Nitro is letting me do. We’ve spent way too much money, and I think my wife will probably divorce me after this (laughs), but it’s been fun. It’s kind of one of those things where I’m investing in the future of action sports. It’s dangerous and it’s dumb, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and we’re learning how to do it safer.
Do you think these tricks can ever be landed to dirt? Is that something that you foresee?
It is and it isn’t, and that’s what this past week of testing has been for. We did so many ramp tweaks. On our last day of testing with the bag, which was yesterday, we just weren’t perfect enough. I know we can do the stuff that we are doing, but we have to figure out a way to make it safer. I have a wife and kid now, and I don’t want to end up getting hurt just by missing a little bit. We’ll get it figured out and hopefully we’ll progress to landing it.
Anything else that you have coming down the pipeline?
We have this Action Figures movie project, which has been a lot of fun and a lot of work. It’s the first thing that I’ve been fully producing, and I’m doing all the editing with two of my buddies. With Rally racing, I’m determined to beat my teammate David Higgins. He has beaten me at every single round this year, but hopefully I can wrap up second in the championship and try to take down my teammate there.