Two days before his much-anticipated debut on NASCAR’s Nationwide Series last summer, Travis Pastrana broke his foot in 40 places when he crashed his motorcycle during the X Games.
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That type of mishap is always a risk for the extreme sports star, but this recovery wasn’t easy.
”It’s been difficult. As far as in a car now, I’ve been 100 percent since December. I’ve been testing a lot since December,” Pastrana said. ”I’ve been just driving anything with wheels – just really trying to get back.”
Pastrana was in downtown Detroit on Monday to announce a partnership with Dodge and SRT Motorsports in this year’s Global RallyCross Championship Series. The popular 28-year-old will be behind the wheel of a Dodge Dart rally car on this circuit, which begins May 26 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Pastrana also said he’s going ahead with plans for his Nationwide debut at Richmond International Raceway on April 27.
”I drive a lot of different types of vehicles,” he said. ”I love to drive. Everything that you drive brings a completely different audience.”
With his marketable personality and fearless attitude, Pastrana could help NASCAR appeal to younger fans – assuming he can stay healthy until his new start date. He looked and sounded fine Monday while promoting his GRC endeavor.
Pastrana has been an X Games medalist, raced monster trucks and competed in motocross, supercross and RallyCross. He’s also jumped a rally car 269 feet off a California pier onto a floating barge, and in 2007, he jumped out of an airplane without a parachute over Puerto Rico, meeting up with another jumper in midair before finishing with a safe tandem landing.
His plan last July was to compete at the X Games and then fly to Indianapolis for his Nationwide debut, but he was unable to land his motorcycle safely following a flip and spin combination in a ”best trick” event.
”Knew that we were risking a lot by doing X Games last year,” he said. ”Had to sit in the hospital and call the team and say, `Look, doctors say it’s going to be four months before I can even walk or put any weight on this.”’
Pastrana is using NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series to gain experience – he finished 12th at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 17. He’s also eager to work with Dodge on the GRC circuit, a spin-off of the X Games rally races. The series consists of seven events in closed-course rally tracks and includes 70-foot jumps over racing traffic.
”All the guys from Europe have always said, `Oh, Americans, they can’t do rally. All they do is drive in circles,”’ Pastrana said. ”They’re coming over and they’re starting to realize that Americans can drive.”
Dodge is scrambling after Penske Racing’s announcement that it’s switching to Ford for NASCAR competition starting in 2013. Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports, wanted to focus on the GRC on Monday.
”I’m not going to talk about NASCAR today, but we’re obviously white-boarding that and looking for the opportunity. But we are expanding. This is one of many ventures we’re going to talk about this summer,” Gilles said. ”Racing is alive and well at Dodge and at SRT.”
The GRC ends Sept. 29 in Las Vegas. It also includes a stop at the X Games in Los Angeles, which Pastrana is looking forward to.
”We’re connecting to his audience, but also kind of getting the Dodge Dart out there,” Gilles said. ”We’d like to win a few of these while we’re at it.”