Q&A WITH TRAVIS PASTRANA
Drive Performance interviewed Travis Pastrana between X Games 15 Rally and the Ojibwe Forests Rally, where he clinched the 2009 Rally America National Championship.
Drive Performance (DP):
You and X Games seem to have grown up together, and you’ve participated on two and four wheels. Other than your own transition from motorcycles to rally cars, how do you perceive changes in X Games through the years?
Travis Pastrana (TP):
The X Games has really been a pivotal part of the entire action sports community. If you look at when Tony Hawk and these guys first started getting into it, there was not real support from parents, teachers, or the local community for action sports. You did these things because you were just truly passionate about them.
Now it’s great because through the exposure and the popularity of the X Games, communities have gotten involved. And now there are skate parks popping up everywhere, and now parents see there’s actually a future for their kids if they do these sports. They are actually encouraging them to do what they love to do, and I think that’s really good for young kids.
Please compare your level of intensity at this year’s X Games with how you’ve entered previous X Games competitions. If it was different, why?
I really don’t think you enter any competition with a different intensity. You’re there to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s Foosball or table tennis or whether you’re going for an Olympic gold medal or an X Games gold medal.
The difference with X Games is that when it comes down to it, if you’re not ready or something is not going your way, especially when you look at the two-wheel sports, you’re probably still going to throw the trick anyway. Because this is your one chance of the year to shine; this is your chance to put yourself in the spotlight.
This year compared to other years – nothing’s changed. It’s just on a bigger scale. At the same time, we’ve had more experience there, so I feel like it’s as exciting as the first year. It’s bigger media, more exposure, more sponsorship, more everything than the first year I was at X Games in ’99, but to me it felt just as big the first year as it does now.
The competition in X Games Rally has always been close. In retrospect, what is your analysis of this year’s field? How did the competition meet or exceed your expectations?
The competition this year at X Games was amazing, and every year it seems to get better.
But, at the same time, I think a lot of us had difficulties in the runs. There wasn’t a lot of the epic racing that you expect out of X Games just because everyone was pushing so hard and everyone was so close that there was a lot of crashing out.
I always go to race, and I was disappointed in the first two rounds because the guys I went up against had problems. Then in the final round when I finally had a chance to race, unfortunately I made a mistake, and again it was a runaway.
So … try harder next year!
What is your most memorable moment from the X Games in which you’ve participated?
For me the most memorable moment that I have was racing Colin McCrae in the first year that they had rally. That was awesome for me! It was kind of my first real rally win, and for it to come on such a grand stage was awesome.
Obviously, the double flip goes down in my head as one of the greatest days of my life because the entire audience truly grasped the consequence and what was happening, and that rarely happens.
You have a substantial points lead going into the last three Rally America National Championship events this year. Will that influence how you approach these events? How?
I think as a racer you always go out there, you always try not to crash, you always try to win. So, having said that, Ken Block needs to win. So, if he’s down midway through the race, he’s still got to figure out a way to get his Subaru on top.
For me, we’re going to drive as hard as we can, but we’re not going to take huge chances – not to say that we’re not still going to be driving to our fullest potential, or that it’s going to be a gimme. But we’re definitely going to go for the win.
[Editor’s note: Pastrana did win, clinching the 2009 Rally America National Championship.]
What is the high point of your Rally America season to date? What have you enjoyed the most?
The high point of the Rally America National Championship this year was definitely overcoming a huge deficit after the first day at the Olympus Rally and coming back to win. Early in the rally, Christian [Edstrom, co-driver] was telling me, “If you’re going to drive like a girl, I might as well stay home.” Ha-ha, and, you know, we really buckled down. Ken had some issues, but I felt like that was the biggest feat for Christian and me as a team, to really just put our heads down. And that really sparked a winning streak that helped get the points lead.
How are you preparing for the New Year’s Eve attempt to break the world record for the longest jump in a car? Can you tell us anything else about the jump?
I’m really excited for the New Year’s Eve Bash, though I can’t really say much about what’s going on. But it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun, and I’m excited to fly that Subaru a long way! Ha-ha!