What you see and get is a genuinely great guy who is also – let’s just say it – freakishly talented on both two and four wheels.
Pastrana’s accomplishments are already legend: world freestyle champion at age 14, five-time U.S. amateur motocross champion, two-time Canadian amateur motocross champion, youngest rider ever to represent the United States at the Motocross des Nations in France, 125cc pro national outdoor champion, 125cc East Supercross Series champion, and most successful competitor in the history of X Games freestyle motocross.
He’s pretty amazing on four wheels, too, as he demonstrates with his back-to-back championships in the Rally America Series. But despite Pastrana’s success and the considerable adulation that accompanies it, the lanky superstar has maintained a reputation as being just like the guy next-door – maybe nicer.
Pastrana was born in Maryland in 1983, and by age four he was riding a Honda one-speed. Although he excelled in mountain biking (placing first in dual slalom at U.S. Junior Nationals) and his studies (graduating high school three years early), the youngster found his calling in motocross, winning five Loretta Lynn National Amateur crowns beginning in 1992, plus a deuce of Canadian titles for good measure.
When the fourteen-year-old captured the world freestyle championship in 1998, he served notice of his versatility; but 1999 was even better. “I won the first pro race I ever entered (125cc) and also won a gold medal in freestyle at the X Games even though I was the youngest person there,” Pastrana recalls. Other accomplishments that year included winning two gold medals at the Gravity Games, capturing his fifth national amateur title, and being honored with the Horizon Award for best amateur motocross racer.
In 2000, Pastrana devoted his full attention to pro competition, emerging as the 125cc national champion and taking three wins – including the East/West Supercross Season Shootout championship – to capture third overall in the national supercross series. Besides being the AMA Rookie of the Year, he was named to America’s Motocross des Nations team and took a repeat freestyle gold at the Summer X Games.
As the millennium continued, so did Pastrana’s dominance. In 2001 alone he captured the 125cc East Supercross Series championship and was awarded Motocross Rider of the Year at the ESPN Action Sports & Music Awards. By 2005, he had accumulated a career total of five X Games gold medals, five golds from the Gravity Games, and additional wins at events including the Dew Tour and Red Bull X-Fighters.
Pastrana’s charisma is as natural as his riding. Never one to posture, Number 199 lets the drama of his sport speak for itself; and he’s known as one of the friendliest, most approachable athletes in the pro ranks.
But Pastrana’s career hasn’t been a complete fairy tale. Tackling a variety of contests has inflicted a variety of injuries. His worst – in 1998 – was a spinal trauma that had been reported only twice before in medical history, and Pastrana’s recovery was so remarkable that it was documented on television. Characteristically, the athlete looks on the bright side: “I had to learn to walk again, but in the meantime my dad got me a great wheelchair with full suspension. I had about three months of fun with that,” he remembers.
In other words, nothing is going to keep this superstar from exploring every possibility, whether it’s racing, freestyle, step-up, making videos, or even a new favorite – BASE jumping. At home in Maryland, Pastrana’s landscaping includes a freestyle park, a foam pit, a motocross track, a supercross track, a BMX course, a rally car track, a rock-climbing wall, a mechanical bull, and a skatepark. “Not that I’m there all that much,” he admits, “but my friends enjoy it, too.”
Pastrana seems to be on the road more than ever these days: While he remains a dominating force in the world’s top freestyle motocross contests, he also has a new stunt/reality show on Country Music Television called Travis TV. “It’s Kenny Bartram, Special Greg, Cam McQueen, and I thinking up a stunt that is truly nuts, then building whatever we need and hucking it,” Pastrana reports. “It should be a lot of fun.”
And then there’s rally car racing. After testing the waters in 2004, Pastrana embarked on his first full season in the Rally America Series in 2005 and landed on the overall podium three times, for a season finish of fourth in his class and fifth overall. Completely stoked, he returned for Team Subaru’s Rally America effort in 2006, and became one of the youngest drivers ever to win a Rally America Championship. Insiders hint that Pastrana may soon take his seemingly unlimited talents to an even broader stage: the World Rally Championship, but not until after he locked up his third consecutive Rally America Championship in 2008!
Travis has done many amazing things. Here are some of his favorites.