Mitchell Bailey recently traveled to Puerto Rico with the Nitro Circus crew and sent us this story and photos of the latest in Travis’s long list of exploits. Some folks get to have all the fun.
Words and Photos by Mitchell Bailey
Last month's trip to Puerto Rico for the Travis Pastrana MX Challenge was a very unique experience and an adventure to say the least. We headed to this event with very few details, other than Travis would be making an appearance and lending his hand to make the event a success. Anytime Travis is involved, I'm willing to "watch" and know that something amazing will happen. Gary Bailey and Gabby Catala spent months putting this together on a hidden piece of land back in the Vega Baja jungle, west of San Juan. This foreign territory literally started as a jungle that was transformed into a Supercross venue, almost overnight. Complete with hillside seating, bleachers, live entertainment, mobile lighting and support from Red Bull. Puerto Rico motocross fans were in for a treat.
Night one began with two days of rain soaking the track and making for what seemed would be an unpleasant night. Luckily, the red clay and mix of dirt soaked up the water and made for an amazing track right after the first practice. Travis Pastrana, Kyle Partridge, Ryan Smith and a slew of east coast riders made the trip across the water to race not only on foreign grounds, but foreign borrowed bikes as well. The local Puerto Rican pros didn't have too much experience on this type of track, but were excited and ready for the challenge.
It was a unique and surreal setting for a supercross, but on a much smaller track reminiscent of arena cross. As I sat there with my brother David, we kept having an eerie feeling that either King Kong or a velociraptor would soon emerge from the jungle and disappear with a rider. It could best be described as a setting from the TV show LOST.
With three qualifiers, including the mini class on a very tight track, the racing stayed fairly close. At the end of the night, it was Pastrana who took the victory unchallenged, with Partridge and Smith joining him on the podium.
Night two was a completely different scene. The same race format took place with Pastrana taking the qualifier. This time a crowd of almost four times the size graced the hillsides, crowded the fences and boy did they get a show. Travis' Nitro Circus team showed up in full force. The whole MTV crew followed the crazy train that is the Nitro Circus. After "Street Bike" Tommy jumped into the 50 class and got his butt kicked, a bunch of old cars came out, ready for a demolition derby on an arenacross track. Jolene, Jim DeChamp, and Tommy put on their helmets and started smashing and jumping into each other. After stacking all three cars on top of each other over the final jump before the finish, tractors cleared the course in time for the final event of the night.
In the main event, Travis and Ryan Smith pulled away from the rest of the pack and Partridge tried to play catch up. Ryan Smith from Axton, VA held an early lead and had to hold Travis as long as he could. It seemed like Travis was possibly toying with him to entertain the crowd, but as he started to make his move Ryan continued to fire back. Travis finally took him high in a 180 turn and it seemed it would be over, but one whoop section and a triple jump later, Ryan Smith came right back with a clean pass and held the lead for the remaining two laps. Unquestionably the biggest win of his career, Ryan was ear-to-ear smiles, and as always Travis sang praises to what a great rider and competitor Ryan was. Travis then headed straight to the autograph table and signed posters for every single person in Puerto Rico.
The Travis Pastrana MX Challenge was an amazing event and a great experience. Look for the Nitro Circus on MTV to catch a glimpse of the madness, which will be seen in the final episodes of the season.