X Games just isn’t quite X Games without Travis Pastrana. The former king of the Moto X Speed & Style event was invited to Austin despite not being full-time on either of the professional rally or freestyle circuits. Although, he’s actually been quite busy. Pastrana runs his Nitro Circus Tour and is recently a father for the second time. He may have bigger things to focus on then the possibility of X Games medal No. 18, but when they came calling, Pastrana came racing.
Pastrana recently sat down with SI.com to talk about everything from dabbling in a variety of different action sports to not winning a medal at X Games since 2010 and more.
SI.com: You made your name in moto. You've tried RallyCross, NASCAR and now off-road trucking as well. What's the common denominator for you?
Travis Pastrana: For me, action sports are all one in the same. It’s all about pushing yourself and challenging what’s possible, and that can be in a sport or as an individual. I definitely found that my niche is in sports where you can push a little harder than someone else is willing to push, take chances others aren’t willing to take. That’s why NASCAR was so difficult; everyone was willing to take those chances. I’m just about having fun and seeing what I can try.
You’ve had a lot of success at the X Games, but haven’t been to the podium since 2010. What’s your mindset coming into X Games Austin?
TP: When it comes to X Games, I like to say “check or wreck,” and that’s probably why it’s been a few years. X Games is all about the experience. It’s always more fun to win than it is to lose, but I’m not on the full-time rally circuit. I’m not on the full-time truck circuit. I’m really not even on the full-time freestyle circuit, though I’m doing some stuff with Nitro Circus.
I’m raising the family most of the time. At the end of the day, to get an invite to X Games is an honor. I’m here to put on a show and try and get that Subaru as close to the front of the track as possible.
What got you away from motocross, and will you return before the end of your career?
TP: I still love motocross speed and style, and I still ride dirt bikes almost every day. At the end of the day, usually I'll go through some injuries, race cars for a couple years, feel pretty good and then get back on the bike. These guys have transformed the game so far now. Josh Sheehan and his triple backflip? It’s completely gone to another level, and I’m getting old. I’m not saying I’m done, but it’ll take something big to bring me back
At this point in your career, what's your connection to X Games?
TP: The community, the camaraderie among the athletes is my connection. I’m learning from kids that are 15 years old and they are learning from me. Skaters are learning from BMXers who are learning from motocross guys. It’s just awesome to come here to X Games where you have so much knowledge and so many awesome individuals.
As the ringleader of Nitro Circus, my focus is to build bigger and safer jumps and promote extreme sports so that we can try to keep them around and continue to grow them for the next generation.
What young moto rider has caught you attention?
TP: James Foster. He triple backflips. He’s working on a quadruple backflip. He’s absolutely insane. I’ve seen him a lot competing in the Nitro Circus tour. The X Games mega ramp is a little different than the stuff we have on the Nitro Circus tour, but I’d really look for him to throw down some great runs. He’s competing in three events this year, so he’s got a chance to make some noise.
What makes X Games Austin great?
TP: X Games is a collection of the greatest action sports athletes in the world. That’s what makes it consistently great. But at the same time, Austin has a personality the really fits in with the action sports culture. Collecting the best of the best here and really being able to take over a city like nowhere else makes Austin a really awesome X Games venue.
What’s your top X Games memory? Obviously you have a few to choose from.
TP: I know, and this may not be what you’d expect, but my favorite X Games memory is actually from the first year I was ever there. I was sitting down at an autograph booth. Dave Hoffman was on one side, Ryan Nyquist was on the other and I thought to myself, 'Man, I really made it.' I was 15 years old. That was another lifetime ago, but I’ll remember it for the rest of my life, no question.