Travis Pastrana Interview: Injury Update and his Car Racing Debut - Dirt Rider

In the world of motocross, your window to be a hero is small. For Travis Pastrana, the 2003 season was one he would rather forget; it could very well have been his last as an MX superstar. After suffering injury upon injury, life got worse when Pastrana was involved in a very-serious car accident during the summer. Since then he has really been on the down low. To get away and take his mind off motorcycles, Pastrana has been pursuing his dream of being a race car driver. As with his motocross career, there have been ups and downs, but for the first time in a long while things are looking bright. Many have been wondering if he will make it back to winning races and again enjoy the fame of being a two-wheeled superstar. We hooked up with the Suzuki rider and picked his brain on what the future holds for him.DR: Which injuries forced you to the sidelines for most of the year?
TP: I pretty much destroyed everything I could in my knees. I also had a shoulder injury. I have been working really hard to , but I still have a ways to go before I am 100 percent healthy. The cool thing is nothing hurts right now; it's the first time in a long while that nothing is bothering me and I'm not in any pain. I hope to be back on a bike full time soon, but I just have to see how I feel.What are your plans for your return?
I want to focus on supercross. I'd like to return at the St. Louis race , but obviously there is no rush so I'm not going to take any chances I don't need to. But I really miss riding. I'm going to take it slow, but it would be nice to get back to racing.How many races will you do, and will you hit any freestyle events?
It's up in the air right now. I'm going to be doing all the U.S. rally championship series races this year; I really want to give car racing a shot. I will probably end up riding three or so supercrosses and hopefully the Southwick National. I'm going to try and race some supermoto, too. I'll be racing a Pro Truck in the Baja 1000 as well as a few other selected races. I'm also doing a handful of shifter-cart races. I definitely have a full plate, but it's going to be a great season for sure. A lot of people ask me what the heck I'm doing all this for, but I need to get healthy this year and anything I can do, that's fun, I want to do.Are you trading in two wheels for four?
No, not at all! I really enjoy car racing, but I need to come back to motorcycle racing slowly and not do anything wrong. I'm just coming back slow paced, basically.So car racing is your medicine?
Definitely. I just bought a new rally car, and without that, I would have already been riding. You know, I would have been bored and, out of boredom, I would have gone riding when I should not have, which would have led to more problems. Car racing is almost as fun as motocross; at least, in a controlled environment. With a full roll cage and all the safety equipment, it's pretty safe. I just have to take it easy this year.Last year you got a ride in the Porsche Cup race, which took place at the same time as the Formula One cars at Indianapolis. What was that like?
I was beaten by a girl! It was a lot of fun, and it was a big deal. When we were lining up on the grid, I looked over and saw Juan Pablo Montoya sitting on the wall watching the race--that was really neat. It was cool; there were about 100,000 spectators so it was incredible. The competition was really tough; I was losing about half a second a lap just in downshifting. After that race, I figured it out and got a lot smoother, so I would love to get another shot in a Porsche Cup car. However, roadracing is not my cup of tea at all. I would rather be on dirt sideways.Will you be funding car racing yourself this year?
I actually bought a Mitsubishi, but I think I'm going to be getting a full ride with Subaru. Those guys have really been cool with me. And they won the championship last year, so I think I'm going to be driving under their rig this year.If all goes well, what are your plans for 2005?
I would have to do really well and have a lot of fun not to return to motorcycles full time. My goal is to be back 100 percent in '05, and being off motorcycles for so long now, that's all I can think about. The biggest thing is I really need to be healthy so I can win again; if I'm not healthy, I can't win. I could have made an early return this season, but it would have been a repeat of last season. I got really tired of having my knee drained every Friday before a race just so I could move it.If and when you make your return full time, what will be your focus: racing or freestyle?
To tell you the truth, I don't practice freestyle much, maybe two weeks out of the year and that's it. I like to go out to the desert and ride and have fun. Fun riding is what keeps it new and fresh for me. Racing will be the priority, and it will be my main focus. Freestyle is pure fun, and with the foam pits I have at my house now, if I learn a really cool trick and get it down, it's hard not to show it to the world. So I will probably be doing a bit of freestyle. But I want to win again racing, and as long as I can stay healthy, that is what I plan to do.

He finds car racing almost as fun as motocross.