Ten years! Travis Pastrana entered his first rally 10 years ago.
A Look Back
First Meeting Subaru technical partner Vermont SportsCar learned about Travis’ “interest” in rallying after Alpinestars (one of his long-time sponsors) hooked up Travis with a test-drive in a Subaru world rally car. It was a gift for winning the 2000 AMA 125cc Outdoor National Motocross Championship.
Travis whipped around in the Subaru world rally car on a short gravel test course with 2001 season Subaru Rally Team USA (SRT USA) driver Mark Lovell sitting shotgun and giving some pointers. Travis commented that it was one of the most fun things he ever had done in his life and would love to do more rallying one day. Almost two years passed while Travis was busy competing in AMA Supercross.
Photo: Chris Tedesco/Red Bull Content Pool
The Test Everyone at Vermont SportsCar thought it would be a good idea to give Travis another go at rallying if he had some spare time. The idea was to offer him some real rally testing and then ultimately help him actually compete in a U.S. rally. At that time, the sport needed a personality like Travis, while Travis seemed to want to try rallying – a perfect match.
We decided to arrange a proper test and bring in quality instructors to see how he would do. Vermont SportsCar team boss Lance Smith commented a few times, half-jokingly, “Who is this motocross kid again, and why are we doing this?”
We scheduled the test in the summer of 2003, at Team O’Neil Rally School in nearby New Hampshire. We flew in multi-time British rally champ David Higgins (who also helps run a rally school in Wales) as well as John Buffum, the most successful American rally driver in history. We also brought along a few of our Vermont SportsCar rally cars, including a 2001 Group N Subaru STi.
Higgins was tasked with giving some instruction to the young and eager Travis, while at the same time giving us the inside scoop on whether Travis could drive or not. Travis jumped in the Subaru and instantly began to blast around the rally school course as if he had been doing it his whole life. Travis had an ear-to-ear grin, like a kid in a candy store. After a few laps on the slick gravel course, Higgins got out of the car, pulled team owner Lance Smith aside, and told him with confidence, “The kid can drive.”
We trusted Higgins’ opinion. What a rally school instructor and multi-time British and American rally champ tells us carries a lot of weight. So after that successful day of testing, Vermont SportsCar began working with Travis, his management team, and his sponsors on a plan to enter him in a few rallies during 2004 to kick off his rally career.
The Results? Winning Rally Championships In the following year – 2005 – Travis and his veteran co-driver Christian Edstrom finished 4th in their class. Travis then went on to win four straight Rally America National Championship titles with Subaru Rally Team USA for 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009.
Read about these championship years and 2010 in the Origins: Subaru in American Rallying series, plus Subaru Motorsports previews and reviews in magazine versions 3.1 through 7.3.
In addition, Vermont SportsCar’s website has a collection of its news releases for all these years under its News tab.
So What Has Travis Been Doing?
After the 2010 season, Travis pursued interests separate from SRT USA and Rally America. He turned his attention to NASCAR® and his Nitro Circus reality television show.
Answering fans about his involvement in NASCAR, Travis explained that, “my passion is competition. I need a challenge.” Stock car racing gave him that, as did the Global Rallycross Championship. Plus, he accepted invitations to ride and drive in X Games.
However, that wasn’t enough to keep him busy. Reality TV, a movie, and touring with his Nitro Circus friends has kept him in touch with his fan base. As he has commented on his website, “I have awesome fans.”
Another side of Travis Pastrana has emerged since 2010. In 2011, he married Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, a professional skateboarder and X Games medalist in Women’s Skateboard Vert and Skateboard Park. Two years later, the Pastranas welcomed a baby girl into their family.
A Path Less Taken
Travis’ passions run deep, and they’ve taken him down roads less traveled by others. Not happy unless challenged, he has sampled life in many arenas. He never forgets his fans, though, and they’ve paid back that loyalty with their own toward him.
Back in the Subaru Saddle
In announcing his return to SRT USA and rallying, Travis commented, “I’m so happy to be back with the team I’ve been most successful with in the past. Rally racing is where my heart is, and it’s a privilege to do it in a Subaru. The competition is stronger and our cars are faster than they have ever been here in the USA. It won’t be easy to get back to the top, but I’m looking forward to the challenge!”
Subaru Motorsports Marketing Manager Rob Weir was excited at the prospect of having two former champions on the team: “Between David and Travis, Subaru Rally Team USA has won the Rally America Championship seven times in the last eight years. Having them together this season will give us our best chance at defending our title.”
The 2014 Rally in the 100 Acre Wood marked the first time that Travis Pastrana and David Higgins have worked together on the same team. Follow them at subaru.com/rally and vtcar.com.