Catching up with Travis Pastrana
Nine months after Travis Pastrana was scheduled to make his highly anticipated first start in NASCAR, Pastrana is making his highly anticipated first start in NASCAR. On Friday, Pastrana will race in the Nationwide Series at Richmond International Raceway in the No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota under his team's new banner of Pastrana 199 Racing. On Thursday, he'll line up for his third start of the 2012 season in the K&N Pro Series East, and on May 26, he will contest the first of six races in the Global RallyCross series in a Dodge Dart.
All in all, Pastrana is scheduled to race 11 K&N, seven Nationwide and six Global RallyCross events this year. In the days between, he will travel, test and, for the first time since he learned to ride at age 3, spend virtually no time on a dirt bike. Along the way, he's also starring in an all-access docu-show for Red Bull's YouTube channel called "On Pace with Pastrana," which is being filmed and produced by his good friend and "Nitro Circus" star Andy Bell.
Somehow, among all of that, we caught up with Pastrana shortly after he arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, excited to spend a few days at home in Davidsonville, Md., with his wife, pro skateboarder Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, and the "Nitro Circus" crew as they prepare for their summer tour of Oz.
"This year, I have three full-time jobs and a TV show," Pastrana says. "And it's all about racing."
On his new show: "I've been catching a lot of flak from people saying, 'Why would you go to NASCAR? You've gone lame.' This is a great opportunity to show people all the work that goes into a NASCAR team. I'm letting cameras into my life and showing stuff I've never put out there before. The other shows have been surface, but with this, there's a camera around 24/7.
"If 'Nitro Circus' was a highlight reel of really gnarly stunts, this shows the relationships with everyone and the work that goes into those stunts. This show is no B.S. There are no lines, and it's kind of scary."
On his last K&N race: "[March 31, when he finished 20th] was the first time we were competitive and ran up front. I started third, ran in second for 70 laps and then had a miscue with my new spotter and went backward fast. We're getting better, but we have a long way to go.
"If I'm in the top 20 in the Nationwide race, it'll be a huge success. I know that sounds weird coming out of my mouth, but it's true. Man, I just heard it myself and it sounds horrible."
On NASCAR: "I have never been more helped or supported in anything I have done than I am in NASCAR. I've got the support until I crash enough cars or get too many bad results. But until then, the people behind me are willing to stand behind me. After last year, I don't know how much rope I have. I'm on strike two."
On RallyCross: "The Euros are coming, and they think the Americans all suck, so it's going to be fun. We have two events at X Games, plus all the other rounds are during Indy or NASCAR races and the final is in Vegas. It will be a huge series.
"There are 20 cars with good drivers with a chance to win. NASCAR is my first priority, but rally is a close second. Rally funds NASCAR. We didn't get fully funded in the K&N Series, and this is my year to prove myself, so I'm self-funding a lot.
"I'm using rally to help get sponsors that wouldn't normally be in NASCAR into NASCAR. They understand rally and the X Games, but a lot of my sponsors don't believe in NASCAR for their market. You won't see NASCAR drivers getting flack for racing rally, but rally racers get flack for driving NASCAR."
On the new Dodge: I was at the K&N race last weekend, which ended at 11 at night, got on a private jet and flew to Detroit and landed at 2 a.m. We started filming the Dodge Dart video five hours later, at 7. I had so much fun. It's the only car in production and was just finished last Friday. And we tore it to pieces. By the end of the commercial, there was no rear bumper. I don't know how they're going to rebuild it in time for the New York Auto Show.
"The glamour shots were filmed that night with a $250,000 Phantom camera. Afterward, we went down to the pool and shot a belly flop contest with it for the YouTube show."
On his new team name: "We started Pastrana 199 Racing, but Michael Waltrip is still supporting the team. Last year, I had a Nationwide crew and a K&N crew, and the K&N crew is the same team I have this year. I have the same crew chief and mechanics."
On his ankle that he broke at the 2011 X Games: "The ankle is horrible. I still can barely walk, but it's great for driving. I'm doing a lot of swimming and physical therapy and trying to get the full range of motion back. With all the traveling, it swells and aches and it's hard to make progress.
"If I had plans for motocross or freestyle, I would have to stop traveling and really hit the PT hard, but my schedule doesn't allow for it. It moves up and down with enough force to push the gas pedal."
Pastrana's 2012 Nationwide schedule
Richmond -- April 27
Darlington -- May 11
Charlotte -- May 26
New Hampshire -- July 14
Chicagoland -- July 22
Indianapolis -- July 28
Atlanta -- Sept. 1
Pastrana's 2012 K&N schedule
Bristol -- March 17
Greenville-Pickens -- March 31
Richmond -- April 26
Iowa -- May 19
Bowman Gray -- June 2
Langley -- June 23
Iowa -- Aug. 3
Greenville-Pickens -- Sept. 3
New Hampshire -- Sept. 22
Dover -- Sept. 28
Rockingham -- Nov. 3
Pastrana's 2012 Global RallyCross schedule
Charlotte Motor Speedway -- May 26
Texas Motor Speedway -- June 9
Los Angeles, X Games -- June 30-July 1
New Hampshire Motor Speedway -- July 14
TBA -- Sept. 1
Las Vegas Motor Speedway -- Sept. 29