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Superstar Spotlight: Travis Pastrana

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Travis Pastrana

At this point, it’s almost easier to name the things that Travis Pastrana hasn’t done on wheels in America than the things he has.

Part of the public consciousness for two full decades now, the Maryland native has come a long way from the lanky teenager who won two AMA National Championships on a 125cc bike in the early 2000s. And the early tricks that he did on a bike as a pioneer of freestyle motocross at X Games, Gravity Games, and more seem pedestrian now compared to the ways he’s advanced the sport through Nitro Circus. We haven’t even touched on his five stage rally championships with Subaru, or his endeavors in both stock car racing and rallycross.

And yet, despite everything he’s accomplished already, 2018 will go down as one of the biggest years of Pastrana’s life.

Coming off of the inaugural American Rally Association title and a return to NASCAR in Las Vegas last year, Pastrana’s 2018 calendar showed just how much of a renaissance man he is. On both two wheels and four, the action sports legend pulled off a number of firsts and world records, all before turning 35 earlier this week.

Fans of Pastrana’s freestyle motocross endeavors got to see him take on one more Nitro Circus film with Action Figures 2, the culmination of nearly two years of hard work by the entire Nitro Circus collective. Pastrana pulled off the world’s first Ausi Roll, a double backflip 360, for the film. This came alongside the announcement that the brand’s touring live show will begin a lengthy residency in Las Vegas starting in March 2019.

If watching Pastrana and company pursue heights unknown on tape wasn’t enough, he both replicated and surpassed the legendary Evel Knievel with “Evel Live” in Las Vegas. The series of three stunts, all performed on an Indian V-twin motorcycle similar to Knievel’s rides, that culminated in a successful jump of the Caesars Palace fountain that Knievel couldn’t pull off.

On four wheels, Pastrana branched out beyond his traditional rally roots to take on just about anything with an engine. From winning his class in One Lap of America alongside fellow Nitro Circus rider Blake “Bilko” Williams, to setting the class record in the debut of the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Pikes Peak Hill Climb Trophy, the year started off on the right foot before he even climbed into his factory-backed Subaru Rally Team USA WRX STIs.

Pastrana got back into action for two ARA rounds, New England Forest Rally and Ojibwe Forests Rally, and ran the standalone Americas Rallycross event at Circuit of the Americas. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment of all was the marriage of his legacies on both two wheels and four: the introduction of rallycross to Nitro World Games, Nitro Circus’ own action sports competition.

Designed to do things bigger in all ways than events past, Pastrana and company designed the ultimate rallycross track at Utah Motorsports Campus. The permanent course featured a three-way jump section with a 130-foot gap, small jumps scattered throughout the layout, and a number of banked dirt turns. While Pastrana himself languished towards the back of the pack, the course was universally celebrated by drivers, including the two FIA World Rallycross racers who made the trip over from Europe to race.

And if all that wasn’t enough, last weekend Pastrana returned to motocross to represent Team Puerto Rico in the Open class for Motocross of Nations at RedBud. While the team were not expected to be competitive, Pastrana, Kevin Windham, and Ryan Sipes, under the guidance of coach Ricky Johnson, not only made it to the A-final, but also raised tens of thousands of dollars for the United States territory in continued Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

For many athletes, accomplishing all of the above would complete a career-long resume.

Just think: Travis Pastrana did all that in a year.

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