Pastranaland is the apt name for the house and surrounding playground that Travis Pastrana has built just outside Anapolis in Maryland.
The American has enjoyed an eclectic career from his early Motocross days to his daredevil stunts and his other motorsport dalliances.
Pastrana talked about the thinking behind his eponymous Pastranaland, the driving force behind his daring stunts and what’s next from one of motorsport’s mavericks.
You recently let the cameras around Pastraland, which is some backyard. Where’s the inspiration come from?
Thank you. That was the goal for one of a kind. Guy Cooper had Cooperland with a go kart when I was growing up and I guess I never grew up.
It seems to be an ever-evolving site. What’s next to be created?
It’s not actually that much land. It’s always changing with whatever we need and we build what we build. It helps my dad being in construction. In fact, it’s just a bunch of us rednecks in the backyard!
You’ve had quite an extensive resumé. How do you define yourself?
Without a doubt it’s been varied. Motocross was where I wanted to go but my dad and uncles drove motor cars, one was into drag racing so we always had things like bobcats to go charging around in – that was me from three years old. So, we’d get a shovel and dig out jumps or drive go karts around the shop. So, I just wanted to try everything.
A lot of people are defined by just one thing but you’ve been a jack of all trades haven’t you? How and why have you got into some many different things?
My uncle was quarter-back for the Denver Broncos but he got injured and came back to working in construction. Dad said he was the greatest athlete out of our town and state and didn’t make enough out of turning that hobby into a career so every day that you do something make sure you love it. Coming in with that mentality was awesome as I never did anything for the money, I did it because loved it. Starting, we didn’t have much growing up, my uncles would chip in to pay for gas and the local dealership gave us a bike. My parents sold the boat, the Harley and had two mortgages on the house so I’m aware money was a huge deal. But my dad wanted to make sure if doing hobby that I can do it, and if that makes another hobby then just do it.
What would you like to be remembered for at the end of your career?
I hope to be the guy who people think gave everything he had and always brought it. He brought fun and I feel like I’m the best gentlemen driver – ok maybe I’m fighting for that with Ken Block. We show we can mix it up and beat the best in the world on a good day. But we’re not Sebastien Loeb or one of the Formula 1 guys. But it’s fun and we’re good enough to live our life exactly how we want to and find ways around the norm.
Your latest venture is Nitro Rally Cross. What’s that involve?
We were all set to kick that off and then Covid hit so that crushed us. But it’s kind of good that we had more time to work out deals with more tracks. There’s going to be five tracks in year one – special purpose built courses and I’ll either build them myself or else help with the guys. The goal is to make it exciting for fans but drivers too – there has to be options that different cars and manufacturers have the chance do to well at one and another at another. So, we’ll mix it up. The drivers are really excited and they’ll be scared when get there. The best time in racing is the first couple of years when you’re really still learning what works the best. Our goal with that is continue to mix it up and, when the drivers think it’s figured out, we’ll change it up.
Is feeling fear important in what you do?
On fear, I think I do better with calculating risk – that’s my real talent. But things are a lot safer now. No one in Nascar is afraid of hitting the wall. Take Formula 1, they’d have 20 drivers on the grid in the 1970s and end the season with 18 so they’d lose like two a year. That’s gone. With Nitro Rally Cross, it’s my job to make it safe and to have zero injuries but you have to have something where you can mess up a jump or hit a jump with big consequences so that really plays into what you’re willing to do.
It’s fair to say you’ve had a few injuries of the years – do you ever feel bad for what you’d done to your body?!
Haha! I just hope that we can learn from the mistakes that we’ve made and then push the boundaries out there as safely as possible. If I had to go back through the injuries, it’s not worth every dollar in the world but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s all mind and body and keeping on pushing and your body will heal. You have to think about what you’re putting into your talent.
The list of stunts you’ve done is pretty impressive from jumps across the Grand Canyon to the River Thames. Can you pick a favourite is that like picking a favourite child?
The funny thing with that Thames one in London was that it was one of the more dangerous stunts but it didn’t look that dangerous or scary. But as I’m taking off I’m thinking “I’m sure this ramp isn’t going down” and Mike Metzger got pretty beaten up when he tried it. So when it goes right, everyone’s like “that was easy”. Take the one out of a plane without a parachute. That was difficult to find the right people to do that with but it wasn’t necessarily that hard of challenging. What I did find out s that’s against the law so there were a lot of legalities around that. But all the matters is it’s cool when you do something people can relate to.
What’s the thinking behind a stunt?
It’s less about the stunts and more about the competition, even if the competition is just with yourself. I love when someone says it can’t be done then figuring out how it can be done. Take the backflip Superman, people said it wasn’t possible with gravity so we welded brackets on the clutch levers so the arms would hit those levers and pull you down. That was a pretty cool little niknak, so there’s a lot of stuff like that which makes stunts seem easy nowadays.
Your wife’s an X Games champion in her own right. Does that make for a competitive household?
Very competitive. We don’t overlap in our sports, thank goodness. We are competitive with everything we do. Lyn-Z was thinking about trying to get to the Olympics as skateboarding went in so she won the World Championships in 2019 which was I was so proud of her for. But she enjoys being a mum and, even on the podium, was sad as she’d missed two weeks with the kids. I’m just glad someone in the family grew up! She does a great job with everything.
As a parent, has that diminished the risk you’re willing to take?
No, at the end of the day I want kids to see their parents see how hard they work and do something that they love to do. So many friends leave for work before their kids get up and get home when it’s dark. Something I’m fortunate to not have to do. I’m gone a lot but when I’m home, I’m with the kids. I like to show them the passion and working on stuff. I hope that that’s one thing that they take is do anything but you have to work at it.