By Laurette Nicoll
Watching Travis Pastrana buzz around a Nitro Rallycross event is staggering. He is constantly asked for something – his time, interviews (ahem), a selfie, an autograph, parts off his Subaru, fans screaming his name to get his attention…. you get the idea. Every single second of his day is scheduled during an event and there’s so much more that happens behind the scenes than what we see. When asked if he ever gets tired, he unequivocally states that if it wasn’t for the fans, he wouldn’t be here. His grateful nature is evident and that is one of the reasons he is so beloved.
Many athletes focus solely on their respective athletic endeavors but not Travis. Not only is he a competing every weekend in Nitro Rallycross as a driver, but he is working on the track builds with Hubert Rowland and Jeff Nordstrom, and he’s meeting with the officials from the United States Auto Club (USAC) and creating the rules for the series because safety is of utmost importance. Add to that list, a sponsor liaison for brands like KMC and Yokohama, a recruiter for the series asking other mega talented drivers to come in and try their hand at Nitro RX. For example, we saw NASCAR driver Kyle Busch contest round three in AZ thanks to Travis’ effort to recruit the worlds’ best. He’s also really close to getting a confirmation from Chase Elliott soon, too. That’s in addition to being a series’ promoter, while being a teammate to Subaru Motorsports’ Scott Speed and meeting with spotters and engineers throughout the race weekend in addition to leading the drivers’ meetings and making himself constantly available to everybody in the series.
So, as this productive legend reflected on the tasks at hand heading into round four in Southern California he said, “Glen Helen is going to be the most like an off-road truck track. It’s going to provide probably the best racing. It’ll be the widest, most flowing and the fastest track.” Even though it’s considered less technical than the Phoenix event, Travis wants to make the tracks challenging and takes that responsibility on as part of his job saying he wants the courses to be, “as high flying as possible but also as safe as possible. Those things don’t go together easily. This is a series built for the drivers by the drivers and I think that after Scott’s incident (Utah, 2019 when he broke his back after over-jumping a jump), all the drivers understand that this is dangerous.” Even with the amount of safety precautions, equipment and thought poured into each event, just because there’s a roll cage in the car doesn’t make it fool-proof.
Most fans know that. Because there is a risk to rallycross racing, it’ll drive the spectators out to witness this fast-paced, exciting and awe-inspiring series at the famed Glen Helen motocross track. Which, Travis has a lot of personal history intertwined at this venue as he recounted, “it’s such a cool track and I tested there all the time for the Outdoor National Championships. My start in four wheels came about in California with shifter carting. That started everything for me.” He paused and reflected saying, “I think it’s a great place because it’s the mecca of motocross - it’s really the mecca of off-road racing as well, and we’ll try to take that and make it the premier spot to reshape what Americans think of off-road motorsport.”
A memory popped up and Travis was able to share that he, Brian Deegan and Gregg Godfrey raced the 24-Hour Endurance race at Glen Helen years ago and he crashed and broke his collar bone on the second lap. He was able to have it surgically repaired and arrived at the track before his teammates finished the race to cheer them on. He laughed and said, “I never got a win at Glen Helen on a motorcycle, so I’d like to get one there in a car.”
Could he go back-to-back and grab his second win at the place that holds so many memories for him? You’re going to have to join us this weekend at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, November 20th and 21st to find out!