Thursday, February 21


Friday before the San Diego Supercross, Billy Ursic rolled out an advance copy of "199 Lives," a new movie about Travis Pastrana. It's not another Nitro Circus, this is serious stuff following TP's whole life. The guy has done so much that you often forget all the details along the way (except for that time he was on Letterman years ago--that will NEVER be forgotten). The movie is great and only because there just hasn't even been another guy on earth quite like Travis Pastrana.

Most puzzling in that movie is the part about his racing career. It just amazes me to watch Travis the racer. I stood there, watching a lot of these races live and in person, but it just doesn't seem possible that it really happened. There was a time when Travis raced full series and won races and scored points and won titles? No way! How could that be? It just seems so foreign to believe that Travis, eight years ago, reeled off an amazing win streak to end the 2000 AMA Motocross Tour as the 125 National Champion. I remember, when leaving Steel City that day, that I was totally relieved because I knew now matter how crazy this whole Pastrana thing turned out, he would always have a title. For real. The guy was always an accident waiting to happen, so I was just happy that he managed to get one, because you simply couldn't count on anything more.

Turns out that was prudent, because Travis never did win another national title (he did get the 2001 East Supercross Title at least). I remember those races so well, and I remember telling myself to remember those races, because Travis was just too good to be true for this sport, and you knew it wouldn't last. But even after telling myself to remember those good old days, I still watched this 199 Lives film and just said, "Dude, I can't believe Travis Pastrana used to race and win consistently every weekend."

The next day he was there in San Diego, rolling out of the pits and headed to the track. Travis was going to ride opening ceremonies, but when he rode out of the rig for practice, it almost looked like he was a racer again. Later, I got confirmation: he would be a racer, on a bike, at the GNCC in Florida next month.

At this point the thought of Travis racing and challenging for the win seems crazy. The first time he expressed interest in the Florida race was 2004, and if he had done it then, it would have been HUGE, because he was still supposed to be a full-time racer, but only the GNCC would have had him. Alas, back then, Roger DeCoster said no (or, as Travis explained to me, Roger didn't say no, but he looked at him like your parents look at you when you ask to do something stupid).

Travis made it to the GNCC by 2006, but then he put a hole in his radiator in the most nothing first turn crash ever.

Now he's back in 2008. Eight years and maybe 198 lives removed from being a national motocross champion. Honestly, his races have featured so many false starts and non finishes lately that I'm not sure if anyone is taking it seriously any more. It's too bad though, because when anyone looks back and remembers Travis from back in his racing days, they remember just how good he was. I'm not sure if that's a shame, or maybe it was just good while it lasted. We'll see in two weeks.


Englishman in S.D said...

Travis seems like a cool kid but I can't help feel that one day he'll actually kill himself doing something crazy.
Have you read the book about his career ? When I read about how many times he's broken his body - you have to read the part where he ripped his spine off his pelvis and nearly died- I shudder to think how bad he's gonna hurt if he lives to be an old man. I raced my whole life and at 40 in addition to needing a race related back surgery last year my knees , shoulders & ankles all snap, crackle & pop and sometimes keep me awake at night.

Daniel said...

Very cool commentary. I unfortunately do not remember Travis winning races and championships. I was always a rider, but never had cable or satellite TV growing up. My first supercross experience was St. Louis 2001, so I basically missed Travis the racer. I am now quite versed in the history, but only personally know Travis the freestyle king. I hope that Travis the Racer flys down to Florida. He says he can ride all day in sand, hopefully he can finally show that's true.

Johnny_G said...

Travis has the speed and skill to completely wax the field in Florida. That is by no means a diss on knighter, hawk, mullins and crew it is simply a statement to just how utterly amazing TP can be on a motorcycle. I for one hope he digs deeper than he ever has and guts out the best 3 hours he can muster. Come next tuesday Wether he is 1st or 15th I'll be leaning out into the track cheering and waving like a lunitic!

Mom! Toilets blogged! said...

I'll put my money on Knight, I'm afraid Taddy has just angered the Man from Man and an angry man is always a good bet.

Reese said...

Travis in MX and SX was phenomenal! I'll never forget him moving up to the 250 ranks (they were still on 2 strokes in those days haha) and he was one of the few racers that wasn't scared to race with RC and MC and bang bars. RC was a hated man for a year after he took out TP!

My wife and I still get so excited any time we hear about another one of TP's antics. I couldn't wait to show her the footage of him back flipping the finish line jump a couple weeks ago! I can't wait to see how he does in Florida, he can absolutely rail in the sand. Some of his most memorable rides to me are from Southwick, and everyone knows how sandy that place is. Go Travis!

suzuki-fan said...

Travis can't even finish a 18-20 minute supercross main. 3 hours will give him too much time to find some way to wad the bike up.

Dan said...

Another thing that people forget is that TP199 showed up to race the Baja 1000 Ironman class. Meaning that TP199 - a crazy freestyle guy (so much more) was going to race the Baja 1000 solo. Why, because he can. A lot of people get on Pastrana for some of his life choices, but he lives life to the fullest. If he dies riding a bike do you think he is going to bummed out? He died doing what he loved. I would rather die like that than die in some hospital.

fatty said...

how can you not take travis seriously when he mentions wanting to race. if you remember he was one of 8 people out of 1300 or so riders that finished the erzburg i think it was 06. that is one of the toughest most gnarly races in the world. for a while he was leading the freak show knighter. never ever should someone under estimate travis's will to compete and win. i think he is going to suprise alot of people with this. of course that is if he makes it through the first turn. lol

cpsmith58 said...

I never could figure out how TP was able to do so well in GNCCs, but it's just dirt bike racing and his physical conditioning is outstanding. I watched a bonus CD that came with a Nitro Circus package and there's some stuff in there about his fitness. He got 2nd place in a contest that is CRAZY. When the guys that are competing complete it and the camera takes a shot of them, they are wearing the same face they would if you were removing their gall bladder with a rusty Boy Scout knife (with no anesthesia, of course). I can think of no other way to describe how intense the experience seems to be. Worth a watch, for sure.