Travis Pastrana Knows He Can Still Push His Limits Further Than Everyone

Travis Pastrana Knows He Can Still Push His Limits Further Than Everyone photo
Travis Pastrana Knows He Can Still Push His Limits Further Than Everyone photo

Travis Pastrana has the energy of a 16-year-old holding the keys to his dad's Ferrari: limitless possibilities, and the consequences don’t even register. Nearing 40, America's pre-eminent action sports daredevil says he's going to start slowing down. I haven't seen the evidence of that yet. Pastrana is still chasing speed wherever he can—racing in the Daytona 500, jumping 100-plus-foot gaps in Nitrocross, nailing one of the most downright insane Gymkhana videos ever in his 800-horsepower Family Huckster Subaru, or becoming an offshore powerboat racing champion (really). This is after breaking his back and pelvis in a base-jumping accident for the second time just 18 months ago.

"You can really err on the side of, 'fuck it',” he says to me. He's talking about the shared skillset between going 10/10ths on a bike and in a car, but you know the fuck-its run a lot deeper and farther than that with Travis Pastrana.


Since he suited up as a 16-year-old motocross racer in the 1999 X-Games, Pastrana hasn't slowed for anything. He started the Nitro Circus stunt collective in 2003 and double-backflipped a dirt bike into a generation's collective hearts via low-budget DVDs before MTV picked up the show and opened the door to superstardom. This was a moment when action sports really swung into mainstream culture, and the inclusive insanity of Travis and his cohorts resonated with a mass audience. They harnessed that energy to one-up each other, to do the impossible with boundary-pushing stunts—a drive he also shared with the late Ken Block.

Prior to Block passing away in a snowmobile accident in January, the two sat down to plan what would've been the craziest Gymkhana video yet that would've featured them both. “We would've been like, okay, what's the all-time stunts? What's the craziest stuff? What have we wanted to get but couldn't get permits for?” Pastrana says.

Block’s shadow still looms large, and is in part why Pastrana said he’s going to take a step back after this year. He also dealt with the recent loss of his team manager, someone who was a father figure to him. "Neither one was doing anything that was outside their norm that they do every day,” he says. “But you never know what's going to happen with life.”

This is a man who has jumped out of a plane without a parachute, so slowing down will always be relative. He does seem to be looking for less risky ways to spend his time, though. Recently he's been putting a lot of himself into building out Nitrocross as a series and a new rallycross track at MidAmerica Outdoors, an Oklahoma off-road racing facility he's partnered with to create an action sports destination. It's there that I caught up with Pastrana earlier this summer to talk about his legacy, why he’s not super great at NASCAR but alright at rally, whether he wants his kids to take risks like him, the immense hole left by Ken Block’s death, and what's still left for him to experience.

The Interview

The Drive: So you've raced nearly every single type of motorized action sports discipline. From Can-Ams to rally cars, two wheels and four. What made you chase all those different things?

Travis Pastrana: Waking up with a passion. My uncle was one of the best athletes to ever come out of Maryland, like state champion wrestler, all-American lacrosse, football, and even [the] Denver Broncos quarterback for two years. And he still ended up working construction. And my uncle Allen said, “Look, doesn't matter how much money you're getting paid, it's not worth the injuries that I took as an athlete. But any day that you can do what you love to do, ride that train till the wheels fall off. Because the rest of us, we'd give our right nut to be able to just take one lap around Daytona." Or whatever it might be.

It’s a strange philosophy, but I just thought that every morning you should wake up with a passion. And for me, it's always been competition. Everyone's like, you're a daredevil. I'm like, ah, that's just what I think I excel at—taking risks.

You've said something like that before, that you're not that talented, but you have an innate ability to go one step further than anyone else is willing to go. Do you really not think you're talented even after all these years?

There's a difference between being talented and... If everyone hits the same line and does it exactly the same, I'll be up front, but I'm not going to win. But with NASCAR, it's rear-wheel drive, which needs more finesse, as when it starts to slide you back off, and you have to have patience. Patience is just not a virtue that I ever learned from coming from dirt bikes. In supercross and motocross and rally, you could shift the gear. You could wheel the end and chances are you're going to make the other side—and you're going to make up two seconds in the process. If you're only a half-second a lap off the best guys, all of a sudden you're way out front. You can relegate that risk. But NASCAR, no one's afraid of getting hurt there. You got the safety barriers, you got...

A very safe car.

With pavement racing too, you're going to lose time before you crash. In general, it is just not fast to be sideways. But with dirt racing and rally, it wasn't about how much car knowledge you had, it was simply about getting out there and driving and making the best of the worst-case scenario. And I do that pretty well.

<em>Long Nguyen</em>
Long Nguyen

That's an interesting way of putting it. Between the disciplines then, what's the difference from two wheels to four? Just, is it that ability to push yourself a little bit more, take that little bit of more risk, or...?

Well, kind of. Two wheels, you are the weight and the ballast and suspension and you can be everything. So your bike doesn't have to be as good as anyone else's bike for you to be the best rider. Like Matt Crafton always said about winning NASCAR, “You can't carry a vehicle.” Not that you can really carry a dirt bike, but you can...

You're part of a dirt bike’s suspension. You're doing something.

You can move around to make up for the inadequacies. With a vehicle, you need a good team, you need a good car. And that's why I like the Can-Am series here that we have because it's all spec. And then we can really see at that, I say junior level, but we're running everyone from Brian Deegan, who won X Games rally over world WRC champions, to Sam Mayer, who's like 14 years old. And it's just really cool because anyone that jumps in, it's not like, well I wonder how good they'd be if they were in the Red Bull F1 car, or the McLaren or whatever you're looking at.

And that's what's cool and I've liked about dirt, and I've liked about all-wheel-drive is that you can really make up time with aggression. And if you slide a little bit too much, yeah, it's not quite as fast, but you're not going to lose what you would in a pavement race or in a rear-wheel drive race. You can really err on the side of fuck it.

"Everyone's like, you're a daredevil. I'm like, ah, that's just what I think I excel at—taking risks."

Travis Pastrana

You just mentioned Sam Mayer, and we just passed Gray Leadbetter in the pits outside, too. You’ve brought people up throughout your entire career with Nitro Circus. What drives that?

Competition. At the end of the day, I want to race against the best that I am competitive with, and I definitely want everyone to be safe. I come in with a different skill set than most of the drivers come in from road courses. And even Andreas Bakkerud, he's never flipped a car before this year. He's a phenomenal driver. He's won world championships. And after his first crash, he was a little timid.

This is the most horsepower we've ever had in a racing vehicle [Nitrocross’s FC1-X race cars]. It's the biggest jumps we've ever had. We have gap jumps, there's a lot that can go wrong. And I just want to make sure that we don't lose a driver as talented as Andreas Bakkerud. And that if there's a chance for a female, a top female to be out there… I didn't help Lia [Block]’s confidence yesterday rolling over twice with her. But Gray Leadbetter. 18 years old, off-road truck champion. She's racing sprint cars.

I want to get people into the sport that, they've taken a big crash, that they understand the risks and that kind of stuff. And that they're tough enough mentally and physically to be able to get back out there. I've seen some of the crashes she's taken in those sprint cars and the speeds that they hit.

<em>Long Nguyen</em>
Long Nguyen

You grew up during the MTV-phase action sports bonanza in the early 2000s. How has it been from that first onset to now? What has been the progression? What changes have you seen?

Everything and nothing. It's neat. I've always wanted to be in a space that was a little scary, that was a little exciting, that the crowd wanted to be a part of. You know, winning in NASCAR is awesome. It's a lot of fun—more fun than anyone could ever imagine that hasn't been out there and done circle track racing. But I started to look and I'm like, none of the drivers are really excited to drive. They're excited to compete. And when you come and we built a [rallycross] course for the first time at Utah [Motorsports Campus], and every single driver, even Scott Speed, who doesn't like going sideways, he doesn't like jumping. He got off and he was smiling.

I've never seen Scott smile at a track, not because he isn't a happy person, but because he just wants to win. He's like, “That was the first time since I was a child that I had fun by myself in practice in a race car.” I think that's also what the side-by-sides kind of do. Because it takes you back to, you're not thinking about that half a 10th of a second. You're thinking about strictly having fun. For me, that's what Nitro Circus wanted to do. The X-Games started out super fun and then it became a billion-dollar enterprise. There's a lot of money involved. Everyone’s focused, everyone's training and no one's there to hang out. Which is great, it's like the Olympics. Those are amazing things.

But Nitro Circus is a step back from that to say, “Why do you ride a bicycle or a scooter?” Not to win money. You ride it because you love it as a child, you want to do that. That's what I want to do with racing, and I want to see every single person a little nervous out there when they come off the track. That anxiety, that youthful enthusiasm. And I feel like if we can bring that back, we can bring racing back to maybe where it was in the early 2000s. And then maybe even through the 1990s, when it was more priority to go have fun with our buddies. And less priority on... don't get me wrong, though, winning's more fun than losing.

<em>Long Nguyen</em>
Long Nguyen

But yeah, that fun aspect of it. So that's just kind of what you're chasing, that original kind of Nitro Circus vibe?

Right. But then the fear aspect also comes in. I got done with The Mount Washington [Hillclimb in 2021] and I came across the radio and I was like, “I made it.” And they started telling me the time and I didn't even care. I didn't care if I broke the record, I was like, “I'm alive.” And when these drivers go out there and they hit the jumps and everything, it takes that... Your stomach is in your throat. It's like the first time you were on a rollercoaster, and that excitement I think really shows through to the fans. To have these kids that are watching, not watching these guys go, “Oh well, it was crappy day, I ended up fourth. That guy bumped me.” It's like, “Dude, dude, that start, we were four wide and it just dropped out from under us. Oh, dude, I got third, I didn't win. But that was the most fun I ever had!”

Well, you look at Formula One, but they don't seem like they're having a particularly fun time.

Pressure's too high.

So you don't get the kind of reactions that I think everyone was trying to get in the Miami race. If you watched the driver introductions, everyone was kind of like, “What is this?” And they're all way too stuffed up with it.

Because there's so much on the line and they don't... now I would love to drive an F1 car, I think that would be phenomenal. But I would get in and I'd be giggling all the way around the track. Where, these guys if they're a half a 10th slower than their teammates, they're like, oh shit, I'm going to lose my ride. I'm fucked. I feel like these younger racing enthusiasts, when they don't see the excitement, they'll never…

"I got done with The Mount Washington [Hillclimb in 2021] and I came across the radio and I was like, 'I made it.' And they started telling me the time and I didn't even care. I didn't care if I broke the record. I was like, 'I'm alive.'"

Travis Pastrana

They'll never bother?

Yeah. That doesn't look like it's fun, and they don't get it. So JR Hildebrand, his first year he should have won the Indy 500 and didn't. But I was talking to him and he was an engineer, sorry, it's off-subject. I apologize. But he is now building a lot of self-driving cars. So he's on a track and he basically gives the input to the engineers because he speaks their language. He's talking to Harvard or Yale or whatever, Ivy League school [grads], and he's talking about the fun of driving and the kids are... well, not kids. College students. I'm old. Gray Leadbetter's like, “I was born in 2004.” So I'm like, “I was past my prime when you were born,” whatever.

But anyway, long story long, JR said, “I never thought that I would have to try to explain why people should drive.” They asked him, “Well, are these safer? Why would we ever want to drive? And just get in the back and we can play with our iPads?” He said, “Because driving's an experience. It's fun. And I just hope that that never goes away.”

Well, you seem to be doing a good job with bringing these kids into it. On that, your daughters are now following in your yours and your wife's footsteps. How has that been?

The side-by-sides have been awesome for them. Because from the time they could hold their heads straight with their helmets on safely, I feel more safe driving my kids through the whole track at the house with the safety of that, than I do putting him on the bus to go to school which doesn't have seatbelts. And Joe Blow driving it that's getting paid minimum wage. Anyway. So I feel like we're safer, but to each their own.

How has it been just watching them kind of progress into the sports that you and your wife are into?

Their first memories are of vehicles. Whether it's on the front of a motorcycle or on the side-by-side or whatever we're doing. And they've been around and they've seen this and they've gotten to meet Olympians. And the top females that are breaking all these boundaries and just, it's a good time I think to have two girls coming up that are super competitive.

They're more into cheer than they are action sports. But they got on the trampoline and my youngest, who was, I think she was six at the time, was learning double back flips. Yeah, they're definitely, their air awareness is good. But then because my multiple X Games gold medalist wife was in the Gymkhana video, my oldest wanted to be in there and then, just as we were filming, my youngest daughter was doing some spins and they're like, “Oh, that'll be cool.” And they put her in. My [oldest is] like, “Well what am I going to do?” And I'm like, “Addy, it's Gymkhana. It's not about family.” But she's like, “Well, mom was in.” I'm like, “Yeah. And she's a badass.” “And my sister was in.” I'm like, “Okay. She was lucky.”

"So what do you want me to do, dad?”

And she's like, “Well, what could I do?” And I was like, “Oh, all right. What we're going to do is we're going to go and practice. And she got in the Can-Am and we made slight modifications so she could touch pedals and stuff. She just turned seven, potentially… I'm going to stop talking.

"[My daughter's] like, 'I want to jump a gap.' I said, 'Well, it's not a... it's a Subaru video.' And she's like, 'Well what if I just jump mom in her Subaru?' I was like, 'That can work.'"

Travis Pastrana

I mean, just to put your mind at ease. In Utah where I live, you can get your license for driving a UTV on the street at eight.

Oh, my daughter's going to want to move there for sure.

My daughter, who just turned five, has been sitting on my lap driving our Can-Am all around our house and through our neighborhood. 'Cause it's, yeah, it's fine.

But we made it really safe. So she's like, “I want to jump a gap.” I said, “Well, it's not a... it's a Subaru video.” And she's like, “Well what if I just jump mom in her Subaru?” And I was like, “That can work.” So we got the jump dialed in, we put a restrictor so it topped out at whatever speed it needed. And I was like, “Just don't move, don't take your foot off.” And I'm a horrible passenger, but I went with her. It was great. Felt like I'd be a horrible dad if I let her go by herself, though.

<em>Long Nguyen</em>
Long Nguyen

We can't not talk about your injuries, but I want to put it this way. How have you had those kind of conversations with your daughters as they get into the action sports realm?

I think the biggest thing for me is making sure that my girls understand how to evaluate their own skill level and their own risk. So many people are like, “Oh, put a helmet on. You're fine.” No, you could be wrapped in a bubble suit and I'm still not jumping, driving, or riding a skateboard down the Giganto ramp. That's not safe. But Lyn-z, not that she would, but she could drop in with no pads, and she'd be fine. Because she has the skill set to do it and she has the confidence and understands the preparation.

We were at Woodward [Park City], two years ago and there was an airbag that we probably shouldn't have been jumping to, but we were in the rafters. And I went off and I landed on my back and my daughter's like, “I want to do it.” So we went up to the top of the building, a few stories up. And she's like, “I don't feel comfortable landing on my back.” I said, “That's probably smart.” She goes, “Will it hurt if I land on my butt?” I said, “I don't know.” And she's like, “Dad, that's not an answer.” I said, “Look, how about you go over to that airbag over there? You start a little lower and you work your way up and you figure out what your skillset is, and what's your…”

Where's your threshold? 

And so it's not telling them “Yes you can, or no you can't.” It's telling them, “What have you done before? What is the worst-case scenario? And how can you make the best decisions for your life to go through?" And not just have them be like, "this is okay because [my parents] say so, and this is not okay because they say it's not.”

That's an interesting way of putting it. I don't think I've had that talk with my kids. I've pushed them to try as much as you can, but I don't know if I've had that same conversation where it's just like, well you have to kind of figure this out. 

My wife is definitely on the crazier side where she'll push me. She's like, “Come on man, you'll be fine.” And I draw a line 'cause I've seen so much easy stuff go bad. I've seen more crap... I'm still involved in all this stuff too, and I love it. But I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of [what can go wrong].

Like I said, my six-year-old was learning double backflips. But I'm still afraid when I see one of their cheer fathers get on the trampoline and try to double-bounce a kid. And I'm like, “This is dangerous.” Her doing a double backflip with the correct people around here that understand how everything works, is controlled. So it's understanding how to control your body and threshold are important.

Pastrana leaping over Block
Pastrana leaping over Block
<em>Long Nguyen</em>
Long Nguyen

So I want to get back to Gymkhana real quick. I know right when Ken passed, someone asked you whether you’ve had a conversation about the future of the series with Lucy Block and Brian Scotto. And you said that's up to them. Have you guys had that conversation yet? Or is it kind of an ongoing thing?

This year was going to be kind of a race where I was going to try to get Ken to basically go up Mount Washington. And we were going to try to actually set the record, because now it's more pavement, but drifting the whole time. It just would be something fun, and set it up for when we're talking crap to have a Ken versus myself Gymkhana. Which would've been not our final Gymkhana, but that would've been...

A high water mark.

We would've been like, okay, what's the all-time stunts? What's the craziest stuff? What have we wanted to get but couldn't get permits for? We're going to just blow this out of the water. And at the end of that, like how I came into Ken's at the end of Gymkhana 10, where we got out of the car and the credits were rolling, we were going to have Lia at the end taking the car.

And that was going to be a transition, if she wanted to, for her to take over the series. I still love it. And as Lia gets better, she's a phenomenal talent.

She seems to be progressing real quick.

And she's got confidence. The confidence is very good. Also, there are some people that are like, “Oh it's, well, almost arrogant,” but she...

Well, everyone was nervous when we found out she was going to be racing Pike's Peak this year in Hoonipigasus

So I invited her to Freedom 500. That seemed safe-ish.

"And at the end of that, like how I came into Ken's at the end of Gymkhana 10, where we got out of the car and the credits were rolling, we were going to have Lia at the end taking the car."

Travis Pastrana

Yeah, Cleetus McFarlane’s Crown Vic series.

So basically you get two laps to warm up. She'd never done circle track. Never done anything. And she goes around and first lap she overshoots. Second lap was pretty good, a little sideways, but it was good. And I was like, “Do you want any advice?” She's like, “Do I need it?” And I was like, all right, talking shit! And then she qualified I think third, but she was two-tenths off pole. She was faster than Cleetus. I'm like, holy shit. And then she got second on a few rally stages in a two-wheel drive [Subaru] BRZ. She gets fourth overall in the rally and is now leading the US championship in two-wheel drive in a BRZ.

But the interesting part for her, and this might be off subject, but at Parc Expose, all guys our age that grew up or adored Ken, person after person goes up to her right before she's getting in the car. And they're like, hugging her, crying. And she loves racing. She obviously loves her dad and loves the opportunities, but she's like, “I want to make a name for myself in racing. And to be there where everyone doesn't feel bad for me.”

Rather cheering her on.

Yeah, “I am good enough to do this on my own merit.” And that's a pretty cool attitude to have. It's going to be a tough life. It's something that will never go away.

<em>Long Nguyen</em>
Long Nguyen

My last interview was with Ken last fall, and we spent 20 minutes just doing this, geeking out our kids. It was just two dads just talking. So I think he would be super proud, obviously, of what she's doing. You kind of pulled back from racing at the beginning of the year, though. How much of that was because of Ken's passing?

So Ron Meredith was my team manager. He was also just kind of a secondary father figure in all the racing. And he passed away on a dirt bike last year. That was tough because my dad had his third back surgery or whatever and [Ron’s like] “He’s getting older.” They had just went on a Harley ride all up down the east coast. He was like, “You should really do that. You should start thinking about spending time with the people around you because you never know how long it's going to last.” And literally, it wasn't a week later, two weeks later, that Ron ended up passing. I kind of stepped back and was like, “Shoot, man.”

It was great when myself and my wife were on tour and then we had Addy and then even when we had Bristol before they started school, we still toured around. And we were on tour buses together. And it was a strange lifestyle, but it was a fun family experience.

And then when Ken passed and I see the same thing, and neither one was doing anything that was outside their norm that they do every day. But you never know what's going to happen with life. And then with Nitro, we lost two really amazing athletes [Pat Casey and Luke Burland] here in the last couple weeks. And no one doing something that's out of the norm or some big stunt or whatever. It's been a really, really, really tough year.

So back to your question. This year I said, “Look, I've been spread thin to where I'm not doing everything with full focus. And that's when you get hurt. I'm not doing the boat championship,” which we won the offshore powerboat championship last year. I was stoked. And it was an awesome time, but it was like, “I'm going to step back from that. I might do a rally, I might do a boat race, I might do a rally, but I'm not committing to the whole championship. I'm just going to do it for fun if there's time. And I really want to focus on Nitrocross.”

Then with Dana [White] jumping in, who's the best motivational speaker I've ever heard in my entire life. And he's like, “Dude, what are we doing?” I'm like, “Oh, we're trying to build a sport.” And he's like, “But have you taken your kids to this race?” I was like, “Well, it's kind of a long day.” He's like, “Why is it long?” I was like, “Well, it takes a lot of budget to bring in Nitro Circus. It takes, to bring in the whole thing, to bring in bands, to bring in... We got to double the track crew to get it from a 20-minute reprep to a 10. Or quadruple it to bring it to a two minute…”

Money and time, everything.

We got to build it up. And he's like, “Well if I'm investing in this, we have no second chance to make a first impression. What do we need?” I'm like, “We need purpose-built tracks. We need a budget to have bands every day and entertainment. And we need to have better paddocks where people, they can come in and we can get sponsors that feel like they're not just a dirt sport. It could be a dirt sport, but they're like, can we get a lazy river for the kids? We got bars, we got entertainment, we got bull riding…”

Stuff for the family to do.

Yeah. And he's like, “Okay. Our baseline should be the best event we've ever had at Nitrocross should then be the worst event we ever have going forward.” And for me, that was worth saying.

<em>Long Nguyen</em>
Long Nguyen

So you just mentioned in the moment before you sent it, about when your focus goes off. When you're preparing for something that's gnarly, do you compartmentalize the fear? 

Preparation gets rid of the fear. I think if you're prepared, and that's the difference between someone that's made it in contact sports and someone that hasn't. Like you got to be able to go, “Okay, am I in or am I out?” And that's the scary part. And when you say, “I'm in,” and you're a hundred percent in, and you're prepared to do it, you have a pretty good idea of what can go wrong and what the worst-case scenario is. And if you're okay with it, or if you're not, it's time to not do whatever you're thinking about doing. It's not like, “Ah, maybe. We'll see.” For me, it's always been a “Yes, it's go or no go.” I don't do pre-runs up the jumps. It's like, does this feel right? And if it doesn't, I learned to go with my gut as well. If this feels wrong, it's probably something that's wrong.

Let's back out.


You've had enough experience that that's going to tell you. To that effect, you inherited kind of the Evel Knievel mantle for a little bit. Was his legacy a thing you chased as a kid? Or is that just something that you just grew up and you were like, all right, I'm going to do this?

Really interesting how that came about. Every three months or so, a lot of the networks come to Nitro, or Nitro asks around. And History [Channel] was like, “Hey, we really want to do a live event. We want to do a stunt, but it's got to be something with history based on the channel. We need something that has nostalgia.”

And Dave Matteo was in the room, he just raised his hand. He's like, “Tribute. Evel Knievel tribute.” And we were like, all right, well, yeah, that'd be awesome. But I said, “If we're going to do a tribute, we got to do it on an old Evel Knievel bike. Let’s not make it about the stunt, let's make it about the history. Let's bring my grandfather's generation with my kids' generation together so that they can see that the stunt person is not gone. It's just changed to action sports. It's the same mentality.”

"For me, it's always been a 'Yes, it's go or no go.' I don't do pre-runs up the jumps. It's like, does this feel right? And if it doesn't, I learned to go with my gut as well. If this feels wrong, it's probably something that's wrong."

Travis Pastrana

Evel is the person that kind of put jumping on the map. You can jump a motorcycle. And then we start talking about, “Well, we need to do the Greyhound bus jump. Have to.” And then like, oh, we should jump those cars. I then said, “We should call Caesar's Palace.” So that afternoon, they made a call to Caesar's and a call to Greyhound. And the next morning I woke up with a text to my phone. It says, “Approved for both.” [Laughs]

We got to go scout it, but I'm like, “All right, fuck. I was thinking Harley's at the time. And they were like, look, we should go to Roland Sands who does all the bagger races and basically all the old bikes and TT and that kind of stuff. He's told me, “Dude, Indian's putting the most into this. And Knievel jumped everything. And they pretty much make a bike straight off the shelf.”

The FTR.

Yeah. Perfect. Thank you. So now we had a bike. But before we greenlit any of this, we got to call the family. And we went and there was actually more tension than you could imagine.

Oh, boy.

Anyway, that's a whole different story. They were all excited for it, they were just wondering the backend and the details. But at the end, the whole family came out. For me, to have Evel's family out there... so cool. And just to hear the stories and just that whole week coming up to it and just going through all the real Evel Knievel, it was so exciting for me.

In the end, the network tried to make it about how scary and how crazy and how I one-upped all Evel's jumps. But really what it was about at its core was just an opportunity to share his history. Because my kids, I didn't even think about it, but when I grew up, they always called me Awful Knawful. And Evel Knievel was like, when on a motorcycle and you jump, that's what everyone talks about. My oldest, she was like five at the time or whatever, and I was like, “Dude, I get to do an Evel Knievel jump!” She's like, “Who?” I failed as a parent.


I'm like, but that's why we're doing this. It has to be done.

So I want to ask you after everything you've seen, you've done, you've accomplished, what do you still want to do?

Risk reward changes every day. I've driven most things that I've wanted to try to drive. Top Fuel Dragster was the last thing on my list. I didn't do a full run, but I scared myself enough to experience what it was all about.

<em>Long Nguyen</em>
Long Nguyen

11,000 horsepower will do that to you.

For me, it's the same thing that I've been doing since I was 16 years old. I had probably the best year in racing in my life. And it was the loneliest, the most hurt, the most… I'm not a sad person, but the closest I've been to sadness in my life was when I was most successful. And I realized that for me, I define success as being around an awesome group of people. Being around friends, family, getting to do what you all love to do.

And even building ramps and doing stuff that these guys have been working 18 hour days. But when you're in... Marcus Luttrell said it the best. Lone Survivor. He goes, “When you're in hell with your friends, it ain't hell. It's just your happy place.” I was like, all right. I was just like, that almost makes sense. [Laughs]

But I was like, as long as you're around the people you want to be around, you'll figure out a way to have fun and to make cool shit. And for me, the coolest thing that I know how to do is stuff with motors. Driving, riding. And that's exciting for me. So whether it's building the tracks, hopefully eventually stepping down a little bit from the double back flips and that kind of stuff. But for now I still love it.

"I'm not a sad person, but the closest I've been to sadness in my life was when I was most successful. And I realized that for me, I define success as being around an awesome group of people... getting to do what you all love to do."

Travis Pastrana

When I don't rally for a while or I don't drive, especially before the Can-Am track was done, or if it's winter, I start driving like a dickhead on the road. But when I'm driving on the road and I've been racing a lot, my wife has to take over because she's like, you're literally going the speed limit. We're late. Sorry, that was a long answer.

No, that was a good answer. You’re saying you just want to be around your friends.

So what it is will always continue to evolve and change as you continue to evolve and change and the risk-reward changes. But I want to make sure that whatever it is, [it's like] after that year we started Nitro Circus when we started touring, started doing stuff. So I'm like, yeah, I want to be the best. It's cool. But I really, even more than that, I want to do it with the people that I want to do it with.

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