Another Pastrana circus

1/25/2011 - NASCAR
Travis Pastrana has pulled off his share of absurd tricks over the course of his X Games career, piling up 17 medals and countless iconic moments. His plan for X Games 17, however, is likely the most audacious.

Not just in measuring his skill as a rider and driver, but also for his travel agent.

Pastrana, who recently announced plans to join the NASCAR Nationwide Series for seven races this summer as a member of Pastrana-Waltrip Racing, is scheduled to make his stock car debut July 30 in Indianapolis, but said Friday he plans to participate in this year's X Games in Los Angeles, from July 29 to August 1. If all goes according to plan, Pastrana will compete in Moto X Best Trick, where he'll try to land his long sought 720, then fly to Indianapolis in time to qualify and race in his much-anticipated NASCAR debut before again heading west to drive in the Rally Cross competition at X Games the following day.

"It's really ridiculous. And depending on how it goes, it has the opportunity to be the best week of my life, or possibly the worst," he said. "All that hype, and I crash out of Best Trick and don't get to do anything else and I'm hurt? All the NASCAR stuff goes by the wayside for the rest of the year because of an injury? It's a fine line, and something that everyone is very nervous and very excited about."

It's a plan his partners at Michael Waltrip Racing support, despite a clear lack of convention. They are confident Pastrana won't unnecessarily put his race debut at risk by trying to execute the 720 -- a trick never landed in competition and one he calls a "bucket list" goal -- if he doesn't believe he'll safely land it by competition day.

"He's convinced us that if he's putting himself into a dangerous position, he'll know it before the show," says Ty Norris, Executive VP of Business Development and General Manager. "We can always plan on what if it goes wrong, but what if it goes right?"

Understanding the need for unconventional preparation schedules was part of the bargain when Waltrip Racing entered their partnership with the multi-sport, multi-platform Pastrana, who also has a movie coming out this year with his popular Nitro Circus tour.

"Typically with our driver agreements, we're very strict as to what we allow them to do. They can't bungee jump, they can't jump motorcycles into the Grand Canyon, but that's kind of what he does. Basically, they can't be Travis Pastrana," says Norris. "The thing that we agreed to when we started talking to Travis was, look, we're going to let Travis be Travis."

Pastrana has already begun testing his No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota, will prepare for his crossover event by participating in multiple events on the K&N Pro Series, a developmental tour a step below the Nationwide Series. His partnership in Pastrana-Waltrip Racing covers two seasons: seven races in 2011, and a minimum of 20 in 2012.

He admitted concerns other drivers might find the hype surrounding his maiden stock car voyage -- only enhanced by the dual participation at X Games -- are legitimate. He also understands the learning curve will be steep.

"Bottom line, it comes down to you bring all this hype, and the more hype you bring the better the result has to be or the hype is just going to bury you in the ground," Pastrana says. "I know I'm probably going to get buried, and it's just going to be trying to figure out how to come out of that."

What it won't be is a sideshow, according to Norris. As Pastrana gets more time behind the wheel with NASCAR, he's expected to produce. "We anticipate him going to the race, learning about how to race against these guys, and we do anticipate to see speed," he says. "We want to see speed."

For Pastrana, it's about winning eventually, but fitting in along the way with his fellow drivers and showing he's neither a sideshow nor a danger to other racers. Despite a long history of excellence behind handlebars and steering wheels across a variety of disciplines, he'll have to prove himself capable of working in an environment very different from those in which he's previously competed.

"Honestly, it's about getting in there and trying to do the best we can, and earning the respect of these other guys. You need the other guys to work with you. You need the other guys to work with you. NASCAR is a team sport even if they're not on your team."