For more than 10 years, motocross champ TRAVIS PASTRANA and his crew have entertained viewers around the world with crazy and wild stunts via the megahit Nitro Circus TV show and film franchise. Now, he’s giving audiences the chance to see him perform in person.
Superstar motocross performer, NASCAR favorite and new father Travis Pastrana made his name at the age of 14 when he became a freestyle motocross world champ. His achievements on two wheels and four have only multiplied, and in 2014, as the co-creator of the Nitro Circus Live tour, he’ll bring stunts to bigger crowds than ever before across the U.S. American Way asked Pastrana about taking over the world, one crazy stunt at a time.
American Way: What was the origin of Nitro Circus Live? Did it really start as a DVD series in your backyard in Maryland?
Travis Pastrana: It started even before that. I had the first foam pit for motorcycles — you can land upside down and not break your neck. All the top guys would come and learn tricks, and there would be a lot of trial and error. Then we started filming everything, and it became a DVD series. We developed a core following, and Johnny Knoxville saw it and asked me for ideas, and I gave him about 10 pages [of stuff]. We tried them all, and it got picked up on MTV.
Travis Pastrana's GREATEST TRICK
" If I had to name one trick, it would be the DOUBLE BACKFLIP. All my heroes were watching at the Staples Center. It was the one moment where everyone understood the exact emotion I was going through."
That double backflip set the world record in 2006 for being the first double backflip performed on a motorcycle. Since then, Pastrana has set the world record for the fastest ascent of Mount Washington in a car (2010) and broken the Rally Car jump record by nearly 100 feet by soaring 269 feet from Long Beach Pier to a floating barge (2009).
AW: What were the most extreme ideas?
TP: We were trying to do stuff that never had been done before — bigger, crazier. We thought of things that people had done but on a smaller level, like with Big Wheels or a Slip’N Slide or a blob, a big air bag. We set a blob on top of a skyscraper in Panama, and we BASE jumped from the blob. Knoxville really showed us the importance of using things that the audience can relate to, and that really helped us with the live show.
AW: What are some unusual tricks people will see on the U.S. tour?
TP: The beauty of Nitro is it’s not a scripted show, per se. At every show, each performer is encouraged to try something they’ve never done before, and we never know what’s going to work and what won’t. One time, we put wheels on a Boogie board, and this great athlete Dusty Wygle jumped on it with flippers on. He was on this 40-foot ramp, and the Boogie board had no steering. He literally had to hop the front tires when it was going 50 miles per hour. It goes up in the air, he does a 360, grabs it out in front of him, then does a rock-solid, which is a motorcycle trick: throws it under his feet and lands with his flippers on the Boogie board, 45 or 50 feet from where he took off. If he failed at any one of these steps, he basically had no skin on him.
AW: We hear you’re adding new venues, including New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
TP: That will be so cool for us. You have some guys at the top of their sports making millions of dollars, and you have guys like Pogo Fred — he’s just got a pogo stick! And for all of them to show up and perform at a place like Madison Square Garden, it’s going to be nuts. They’re going to push themselves so far.
AW: Tell us about the grand finale.
TP: We try to get everyone in the air at the same time, and there’s not a lot of give on that ramp. I love coordinating with everybody because action sports are all about a bunch of racers having fun. As much of an individual sport as it is, Nitro Live is a very big team sport, and it’s cool to have that camaraderie.
AW: So between Nitro and having a new baby, is this the best year of your life?
TP: It’s been a wild ride. With NASCAR pretty much full time, it’s been busy. My wife, Lyn-Z [pro skateboarder Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins Pastrana], just had the baby and she’s already started skating again!
For more information on Nitro Circus Live, including tickets and tour dates, visit www.nitrocircus.com