Who Is Travis Pastrana?
Born in 1983, Travis Pastrana is a popular stunt performer and motorsports athlete. He is a three-time champion of motocross racing and has won gold medals at the X Games in a variety of disciplines. He has competed in NASCAR events and currently participates in its Camping World Truck Series. With his Puerto Rican heritage on his father's side, Pastrana has been able to represent Puerto Rico when competing internationally. He also ran his own TV sports show, Nitro Circus, in 2009, which branched out into a tour and feature film. In 2018, he landed three motorcycle jumps previously attempted by famed daredevil Evel Knievel as part of History's Evel Live event in Las Vegas.
Born on October 8, 1983, in Annapolis, Maryland, Travis Pastrana was an only child to parents Robert and Debby Pastrana. His father built his career in the military and was of Puerto Rican descent. Travis' uncle was a quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
When a young Pastrana showed interest in racing bikes, his parents fully supported him and told him they'd do their best to set him up for success as long as he was responsible and kept his grades up.
Pastrana is a three-time motocross racing champion. In 2000 he won the AMA 125cc National championship and the following year he doubled up on his victories, winning the 125cc East Coast Supercross Championship, as well the 125cc Rose Creek Invitational.
In 2002 he was able to compete on the 250cc class level but has yet to win a championship.
A natural daredevil, Pastrana has competed in the X Games, earning his first gold medal in 1999 and from there, winning 10 more. He's been a champion in four disciplines: Freestyle, Best Trick, Speed & Style, and Rally Car Racing.
With his backflips, double backflips and Rodeo 720s (aka the TP7), Pastrana has made history in action sports. In 2006 he was just the third athlete to have won triple golds at one X Games and holds the record for highest score (98 points) under the Best Trick category.
“I always wanted to make a living riding dirt bikes," Pastrana said in an interview in 2016. “I enjoy the racing. I enjoy hating other competitors. I enjoy convincing myself that they beat up my grandma and I'm going to knock them down and I’m going to win the race."
In total, he holds 17 medals (11 gold, four silver and two bronze). Among those medals, 13 are from Moto X, while the remaining four are from Rally Car. He is one of the most decorated Moto X athletes in X Games history and was the first athlete to have completed a double backflip on his motorcycle.
In 2011 Pastrana competed in his first NASCAR event and had a sixth-place finish. He continued to compete in various races but wasn't making the kind of competitive headway he had hoped for, finishing 31st at Richmond International Raceway later that year and in 2012 taking 22nd place in his Nationwide Series Debut at the Richmond 250. Pastrana did better when he competed at the Camping World Truck Series with a 15th place finish.
In 2013 Pastrana achieved his first pole and had four top-10 finishes but decided to retire at the end of the season. However, he made a comeback starting in 2015, competing in the Truck Series.
“NASCAR was the least successful of any venture I’ve gotten into. But I tell you, it was an awesome experience,” Pastrana admitted to USA TODAY Sports in 2017.
Surpassing Knievel in Las Vegas
On July 8, 2018, Pastrana sought to repeat three of famed stunt performer Evel Knievel's motorcycle jumps over a three-hour span in Las Vegas, Nevada, as part of the History/Nitro Sports-produced Evel Live.
Riding a custom-built Indian Scout FTR750, to better replicate the heavy bikes of Knievel's era, Pastrana first jumped over 52 cars, covering a distance of 143 feet in the air, before clearing 16 buses over a 192-foot jump. Finally, he soared over the Caesar's Palace fountain, enduring a bumpy landing 149 feet later to complete his historic trifecta.
Pastrana's accomplishments surpassed those of Knievel, who famously crashed while landing his fountain jump, though he knew there was no eclipsing the legend of the fearless daredevil who preceded him. "It's such an honor to live a day in Evel's boots," said Pastrana, who celebrated his success with a dive into the fountain.
Of course, with Pastrana's high-octane jumping, flipping and spinning, multiple injuries was par for the course – but admittedly, he says he's had so many, he's lost count.
Besides dislocating his spine, he's also torn a bunch of "Ls": ACL, LCL, MCL, and PCL. He's had elbow surgery, multiple knee surgeries, and broken his shin and calf bones — and the list goes on.
“At 18 years old, I’d had a lot of concussions right in a row. I just tried to train through the concussions but got myself extremely sick, and in no condition to do anything. I started getting into cars, but got in a big crash and really hurt a friend who was a mechanic for one of the guys."
He added: “It was the first time I was ever really depressed. I’d lost my way. The only thing I wanted to do was ride, and I was just... Physically, I just didn't know if I could."
His injuries turned him to filming his cousin Greg Powell doing backflips on his bike at his house, and before they knew it, Nitro Circus was born. The footage they filmed turned into a collection of DVDs that later got Pastrana a deal with Fuse TV in 2009.
The extended reality TV series showed stunt performers doing dangerous, over-the-top jumps and tricks on their dirtbikes; its success earned Pastrana a global syndication deal and soon after, a 3D film and world tour.
"We got a call from Mike Porra, a promoter in Australia and he was like: ‘We want to do a live show’. So we took all of our best friends... it was carnage," Pastrana said. "The show sucked compared to what it is today. We didn't think about the crowd, we were just trying to do all of the gnarliest stuff we've ever done. But the crowd loved it! They were on their feet, and we sold out arena after arena, and since then it’s just taken off."
Wife & Family
Since 2011 Pastrana has been married to pro skateboarder Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins. The couple has two daughters Addy (b. 2013) and Bristol (b. 2015).
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