Whatever Happened To...Travis Pastrana?

Extreme sports icon to race Nascar

By Brian Catterson

What do you do after winning two AMA Motocross and Supercross Champ-ionships? After winning 16 X-Games gold medals? After winning back-to-back Rally America Series Championships? After becoming the first freestyle motocrosser to land a double-backflip ... launching a dirtbike into the Grand Canyon ... jumping a rally car 300 feet across Long Beach Harbor ... starring in countless extreme-sports videos, a TV series and a feature film? Have we left anything out?

If you're Travis Pastrana, you set your sights on the pinnacle of motor racing: NASCAR.

Say what? Like it or not, NASCAR is where all the top car racers land nowadays, and expect more motorcycle racers and extreme-sports athletes to migrate there as their two-wheeled careers come to a close. The GOAT himself, Ricky Carmichael, is currently paving the way, having just completed his second season in the Camping World Truck Series. So it won't be long before he and Pastrana are banging doors instead of bars.

Like Carmichael, Pastrana is carefully orchestrating his transition to roundy-round racing. He's teaming up with NASCAR racer/commentator Michael Waltrip to form Pastrana-Waltrip Racing. Driving Toyotas out of Waltrip's North Carolina shop, Pastrana plans to contest seven Nationwide Series races in 2011 and no fewer than 20 in 2012, after which he'll hopefully graduate to the premier Sprint Cup Series. But before any of that, he'll gain seat time by running some regional K&N Series races.

Pastrana maintains that he didn't make this decision on a whim. "I've been following NASCAR closely for years as a fan of the sport with competing in the sport a life-long dream," he said. "I decided it was time to try and turn that dream into reality, and with the help of the Bechtel family, Michael Waltrip Racing and the Wasserman media group, I'm now one step closer!"

Waltrip notes the importance of the youth demographic Pastrana will bring to NASCAR. "Travis has built an enormous and unique following all over the world," he said. "As a race team owner, we are always looking for ways to deliver to our partners and engage our fans better. This is an opportunity to showcase our company and our sport to a new generation of young fans. We're also looking for that next big star. Travis already is one, and action sports is full of talented athletes. Having Travis as a part of our program adds another great dimension to our team and NASCAR."

Press-release mouth-boogie dutifully spat, Waltrip disclosed his real reason for teaming up with Pastrana on SPEED-TV: "I just want to backflip something!"

By Brian Catterson
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