Growing up Pastrana
The question of how Travis Pastrana has grown up since his first X Games, in 1999, is almost always followed by another question.
"Well, has he?" his mother, Debby, asks.
The answer to this is a little more complicated. According to Pastrana, who won his first amateur motocross championship at age 8 and his first X Games gold at 15: "There's always a risk-to-reward ratio with life. As you get older, the ratio changes. Unfortunately for me, it hasn't changed much."
Currently balancing a full 33-race NASCAR Nationwide Series slate with three X Games and Global Rallycross Championship (GRC) races and the impending arrival of his first child in September, life certainly has changed for Pastrana, if not the other way around.
This week, as X Games ends an 11-year run in Los Angeles and begins a new chapter with a move to Austin, Texas, next year, Pastrana is also at a crossroads.
Though he's now 29, competing has not lost its luster for Pastrana. Increased responsibility and accountability have influenced what he chooses to compete in, and action-sports commitments have taken a backseat to NASCAR since the botched Pastranathon of 2011.
In an X Games weekend where Pastrana was scheduled to compete in Moto X Best Trick on Thursday, Freestyle on Friday, have his Nationwide debut in Indianapolis on Saturday and fly back to L.A. for RallyCross on Sunday, he fractured his foot and ankle straight out of the gate. While attempting the corked 720 "TP Roll" that made him a gold-medal favorite in Best Trick, he under-rotated back-to-back attempts and left the venue on a stretcher. He had to scrap his Nationwide debut.
It was the first time his getting injured affected more than just a handful of people. The Pastrana-Waltrip Racing team eventually dissolved after Pastrana wasn't able to fulfill his commitment to drive seven Nationwide Series races in 2011. Many people working for Pastrana-Waltrip Racing were let go, according to a 2012 story in the Sports Business Journal.
Pastrana made his eventual Nationwide debut in April 2012 in Richmond, Va., and he finished an impressive 22nd. Now ranked No. 14 in the series, he'll sit out three GRC races this year in favor of NASCAR -- a sign that he has made his priorities clear. Fear of an injury at X, he says, doesn't hold him back, but he does think about it more when planning which events to compete in.
His mom, for one, breathes easier now that Pastrana is committed to NASCAR. Having watched her son ride dirt bikes since age 4, this new career doesn't have her shielding her eyes quite as much. "I've watched him hit a wall at 200 miles per hour and he's maybe a little sore the next day, but it's nothing like the motorcycle, where he has no protection," Debby says.
With parenthood soon to be upon Pastrana -- his wife is Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, eight-time medalist at X Games and the first woman to land a McTwist on a skateboard -- friends and fans are curious whether the danger factor will further impel his career decisions. Lyn-z and Debby don't expect much to change. The Pastranas want their daughter to see how passionate her parents are about their careers. Though Pastrana is secretly hoping she will be more interested in golf or tennis than dirt bikes ...
"I'll let my kids do whatever they're passionate about," Pastrana says. "As scary as it is thinking about being a parent to myself or someone similar to myself, I know how much fun it is to wake up every morning with a smile on your face. That's all you can ask for as a parent."
For Lyn-z, who met Pastrana nine years ago playing video games in the athlete lounge at X, she appreciates all the ways Pastrana hasn't grown up. "There's definitely tons about him that still make him like a kid and that will make him a great father," she says. "Life is still very fresh and interesting for him, and everything is fresh and interesting for a child because they haven't experienced it all," she says.
With regular meetings scheduled throughout the week, Lyn-z contends that NASCAR is a more structured schedule than Pastrana is used to. From the outside, looking at a trimmed X Games event schedule, Nationwide, Nitro Circus Live, marriage and a kid on the way, it certainly feels like Pastrana has grown up.
But with 25 X Games medals to the family name -- and counting -- growing up doesn't exactly mean the Pastranas are growing old.
"We'll see," Lyn-z says. "We have a few years before we have to think about really settling down."
Travis Pastrana will compete in RallyCross at X Games Los Angeles (Sunday, 5-7 p.m. ET, ESPN).