If you’ve never seen a rallycross event before, you probably should. It’s essentially the action sports version of motorsport, with huge jumps, alternate routes, plenty of dirt, and world-class drivers who love to fly around (literally) in high strung rally style cars. We caught up with the megastar of the action sports set and the driving force behind the Nitro Circus and Nitro World Games extravaganzas, Travis Pastrana, 34, ahead of the first-ever Nitro Rallycross taking place near Salt Lake City, Utah. The motorcycle stunt king and rallycross racer gave us the lowdown on what fans can expect to see starting this Saturday.
(You can watch the Nitro Rallycross live on the Velocity channel or the Motor Trend App. Qualifiers and heat races start September 22, at 1 p.m. Pacific/4 p.m. Eastern. Semifinals and finals start September 23, at 1:30 p.m. Pacific/4:30 p.m. Eastern).
AM: Can you give us a little background on what the Nitro Circus is all about?
TP: Nitro Circus is basically started from a group of friends. Guys from all around the world would come and really try to learn back flips and we filmed everything. Then we got picked up on MTV. A couple of us were under the influence of Johnny Knoxville, which was a scary proposition.
Then we started our live touring show about 10 years ago and we tour pretty much every continent in a year, about 70 shows with the world’s best action sports athletes. We just started Nitro World Games three years ago, which is basically a big air action sports [event]. We were doing bigger stuff in our backyard than they could do at any of the biggest contests because our ramps were just a lot bigger. It’s been a cool ride.
AM: Tell us more about the Nitro Rallycross.
TP: This thing is really a motorhead’s dream. We’ve gone away from the stadium because we wanted more room for motorsports. And this is the first year we’re having rally.
We’ve got first-time guys like Mattias Ekström, the 2016 World Rallycross champion, as well as Ken Block coming to race rallycross for the first time in a while. We have Scott Speed and Tanner Foust and that’s just to name a few of the guys coming out.
This track has a double 130-foot jump on the track. And that jump goes over top of a tabletop that’s underneath it, and if you don’t want to take either jump, it’s a slower route, but you can go underneath the tabletop and underneath of the jump, so there could be three cars overtop each other at the same time in in one event in one lap. This is basically taking rallycross and making it “America” style and “Nitro” style by adding huge jumps, Talladega, berms, and lots of dirt, more dirt than anywhere else. That’s really how to rallycross. This isn’t a parking lot demolition derby—it’s a full-on track.
AM: What other big air stuff can fans expect to see?
TP: Our ramps are twice to three times as big as any other contest. In the quarter pipe these guys will be going over 80 feet off the ground. So, that’s eight stories plus, with a 250-pound bike over their head.
We’re also adding the quarter pipe, which is the biggest quarter pipe ever made for motorcycles, so [I’m] really excited about the events and [we’ll] see what happens.
AM: If you had unlimited budget, what event would you want to put on?
TP: This is it. We’re living it right now. Having the rally cross this weekend has been a long time in the making. Finally, we were able to pull the trigger on it and I’m really looking forward to having an amazing event.
You can see how high Pastrana and the rest of the hot shoes participating in the Nitro Rallycross will fly live on the Velocity channel or the Motor Trend App. Qualifiers and heat races start September 22, at 1 p.m. Pacific/4 p.m. Eastern. Semifinals and finals start September 23, at 1:30 p.m. Pacific/4:30 p.m. Eastern.