Bring Out the Gimp: 20 Questions with Travis Pastrana

Jan 23 2023

By Jerry Bernardo

I am not going to waste valuable magazine space explaining who Travis Pastrana is. If you don't know about him go and do a Google search, something will probably come up…he's kind of a big deal.

When my editor Tuffy asked me to come up with an interview for the Hero issue of Trailrider, I fired back, "Who would be your dream interview?" Tuffy thought for a minute (this happens when you're old) and said; "Mike Tyson, Kelly Slater or Travis Pastrana" Well, Travis is really hard to pin down; as he is always on the move in some weird country doing something that would fall under the category dangerous or crazy. I was lucky to catch him after a flight to Los Angeles for an over the phone chat. I told him about Tuffy's dream interview triangle, and this is what the 199 kid said:

TP – Wow, Tyson, Slater, and me? That is a very strange triangle. All I ever wanted to be was a motocross racer coming from being a redneck that was really passionate about racing and for anyone to think about me in a hero context is odd, almost shocking to me. But it feels really good to me that my passion and my dream is something that I have been able to do well enough that people would consider that.

JB – It is well documented that you have no fear. Who really scares you to death when they abort their fear factor?

TP – That is an easy one, my true inspiration and the guys that I look up to all scare me equally as much. Matt Hoffman and Danny Way are probably the two highest on that list. They look at their respective sports as a gateway to what else is possible, not necessarily what they can do but what they can do that no one else has thought of.

JB – A long time ago, you told me you don't wear knee you still not wear them, and if so, why?

TP- I still do not wear knee braces. I wore them for approximately one year. The first time I blew out my ACL and the second time I blew out my ACL (laughs) on the other leg I was wearing them, and I had to get my knee brace surgically removed from my knee because is shattered in my knee, and I thought well if this is what happens when you wear knee braces…screw this.

JB – You sign autographs until everyone is gone. After all these years, what do you base that discipline on?

TP- If you have looked at my results, especially in motocross or Supercross – I just love the opportunity to do what I love to do for a living – if signing 'til 4am or being sick and still sticking around after a bad race, if I can make one kid happy…one kid who wants to go out and do what I do and be like me. Maybe help me support the sponsors that I have; it's totally worth it and hopefully it motivates them.

JB – The Pastrana compound in an undisclosed location in Maryland, USA, has been a hot spot for ambulance runs and life flight pick-ups. What does the local authority think when they hear your address on the scanner?

TP – (laughing) after the third medevac in the same day, the helicopter pilot actually cussed me out. Other than that, all the local authorities, including the fire department – most of my friends now work there – they really like the location. Considering how many great athletes we have come through and how much new stuff is pulled off and has never seen the light of day. It is everything from skate to BMX to moto – we have a really low injury rate.

JB – Of the many tough races you have competed in, where does the infamous Erzberg extreme enduro rate?

TP – On the totally f'd up meter, it's on the top (laughs). Think about this…it is a 26-mile race that, on average, 15 people of 1500 who have started it finish. This is a race that David Knight finished in one hour and fifteen minutes, Jeremy McGrath finished in four hours and fifty minutes, just ten minutes short of the maximum five-hour cut-off, and Jeremy is not a slouch. It is truly ridiculous.

JB – Most pro athletes in all genres have at least one superstition. What is yours?

TP- The only one I really have is never say "last time."

JB – People think that all the great disciplines you have been so lucky to try are all super fun. What is the one that has given you the least amount of pleasure?

TP – That's a tough question because with the least amount of pleasure comes the exact opposite—meaning for me, Supercross. I have had the worst days in my life at Supercross. I put all that I have into it—I have lost all my friends and my family – I was such a loner when I raced Supercross… that's all I wanted to do. I based my life around trying to win there, and it was the greatest highs and the lowest of lows. I will never push myself to that point again with anything. It was the highest of highs when you win, though.

JB – Jumping out of an airplane without a parachute (this has been checked off on the Travis bucket list) isn't the smartest thing one could choose to do. What have you done that when you finished trying it, you said to yourself, "that was really stupid of me to try?"

TP – There are only two things that I have done in my lifetime that I thought was really stupid. The first one was when I was in Oklahoma with my hero at the time, Guy Cooper. I said I am going to jump this jump – we were in Ponca City at the time. The jump was 120'. The only person who had ever done it was Kevin Windham on his 250. (At ten years old, Travis was riding a Suzuki RM85) Cooper said, "Alright, I am going to watch you; you better not make a liar out of yourself." I knew that I wasn't going to make it, but I launched it anyway. I landed, and the front and rear tires exploded, the front forks embedded in the ground and bent, the handlebars bent, and I flipped over the bars and ended up with two black eyes and a bloody nose. The second one was at LaRocco's leap (At the famed Red Bud track, a 130' step-up jump). Halfway up the jump, I thought, "I'm too fat to make this jump." Again I blew out the tires and flipped over the bars, and bent the handlebars. This was ten minutes before the first race started—my team was pissed off!

JB – Is money a driving force for you, or are you financially set that you no longer crave the income?

TP- People often say to me if they got paid that much money, they would work harder or try harder. I will put up $10,000 to anyone who wants to come over to beat my record on a stupid recumbent bicycle—I call it five minutes of hell. If money or fame is your driving factor, you will never be passionate about what you do. You might be good, but you won't be the best. I turned down a huge contract in Supercross to do freestyle—I turned down a huge contract in freestyle to do rally car racing. I then turned down another huge contract to go back to freestyle to see what I wanted to do…. and now I have put the money into NASCAR. People that are passionate find a way to make it work.

JB - Who really annoys you to no end?

TP – Anyone you hire to film that drops the camera when all hell breaks loose. When you go for the biggest jump or crazy stunt, and you're not going to make it, and you wake up and don't remember anything. All three cameramen that were shooting picked their eyes up off the viewfinder in awe—no one is ever going to see that footage—that really pisses me off.

JB – Who is your unobtainable dream date?

TP – To be perfectly honest—as goofy and dumb and un-fashionable as I am…there was one girl that I could not agree to go on a date with me. Tarah Gieger of all girls. The irony of this is that now she is dating a guy I could never beat at anything I tried to race him at, and that is David Knight. That is my un-obtainable couple.

JB – If you left the planet early with an untimely departure (this is code for if you die), what would be your biggest regret on this very day?

TP – Spending more time at home with my relatives. My grandmother is 90 years old this year. She is the core of the Pastrana group—every chance I get to talk to her, I do—she has such a wealth of knowledge and is funny, and I wish we could spend more time together.

JB – Is there any woman on this planet that is gnarlier than Jolene Van Vugt? (The blonde girl on Nitro Circus.)

TP – No…not even close. I know that I don't know every woman in the world, but if you took the second and third gnarliest chicks and combined them together, they would not compare to Jolene.

JB- What is the fastest you have ever gone…top speed?

TP – I have never done over 200 mph on land. I have gone 190 mph in cars and motorcycles and 170mph on a boat.

JB – What do you get your insurance broker for Christmas?

TP – (laughing) I bribe him pretty well, or he won't insure me.

JB- Do you know how many pints of blood are in the human body?

TP – I don't know how many, but I do know that I once bled half of it into my stomach at one time.

JB – So that would be five pints. The human body contains 10 pints and makes up 7% of your total weight…make a note for your next transfusion.

JB – You know how when it rains the soreness seeps into your bones? Picture this…Mad Mike, Bilko, Seth, and Travis Pastrana are sitting on a couch watching TV. Everybody is hurting, but who gets up to grab the remote?

TP - (big laugh) Bilko, because he is the youngest. The barometer in the group would definitely have to be Mad Mike Jones—he takes the cake—he has broken everything. Seth and I would be a faraway second but Bilko… he's still a baby. We used to call him Gumby because he never broke anything until he was 20.

JB – When Jackass star and actor Johnny Knoxville tried to backflip a motorcycle and got slammed, he got hurt really bad—I think he pissed blood for months—in your heart, did you feel bad for him?

TP – I did mostly because I told him he should do it. He said, "The only thing that I could possibly hurt doing this that I would regret is my dick." I told him I have never heard of anyone hurting their dick—and no shit, that is the conversation that we had only thirty seconds before he ripped his urethra. They gave him these really long catheter tubes he had to have to go to the bathroom. Whenever we were on a flight or in a van, he would put the tube three rows in front of him, and you would be sleeping and wake up with piss running down your arm. He really did enjoy that. It was the best thing to come out of the crash for him (laughs).

JB – Question number 20: I have known you since you were 11 years old. I have never, ever, once in my life seen you angry. How often do you really actually get mad and snap at someone?

TP- The only time I ever really get mad is at myself when I think I have left something on the table. I got really mad at myself when I was racing (phone breaks up), and I threw off my helmet and quit because I was sick. I told myself I should have ridden until I passed out. The next weekend at Daytona, I was so sick I rode until I passed out, but I felt good about myself—even though the result was exactly the same. I have never really been mad at anybody else.

JB – I will say a quote, and you tell me what comes to your mind. "Lessons not learned in blood often get forgotten…"

TP – The first word that comes to mind is "true." No matter what happens, if the best-case scenario comes out of it, the chance of you repeating it is very high. But even if it is the simplest thing, and the worst-case scenario happens, you will never do it again.

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