Travis Pastrana on the Biggest Trick of His Life, the Latest Movie, and More... 3

We chat with Travis Pastrana about the biggest trick of his life, which he threw down for his latest movie Action Figures 2, his view on safety equipment, and more...

Travis Pastrana on the Biggest Trick of His Life, the Latest Movie, and More...

Vital MX: Travis, you're working on some new things, namely another movie. I guess a lot of people probably think, "Oh, it's just the Nitro Circus Live show now", as we don't see you competing in the Games, but you're still trying some weird, weird stuff...crazy stuff, big stuff for the new Action Figures movie. So after doing the first one, what made you want to do another one?

Travis Pastrana: Well, that's a great question. Nah, the first one was cool because it gives me an excuse to actually get home a little bit more and build ramps. It's awesome. Like, all the guys on Nitro, they all weld their own ramps and build their own stuff. You know they all have dreams of what they want to do, and we also talk about it on tour. But on tour we've got roof heights to work with, so a lot of the ramps are based on limits. Like the Australian tour, you've gotta be under 58 feet and in the European tour you've gotta be under 52. So the ramps change a little bit based on how high you can go. For Action Figures, Josh Sheehan was about 100 feet in the air, we couldn't measure exactly but a 45-foot tall kick off, 65-foot tall landing with triple back flip... Everyone's like, "Oh, you gonna bring that to the show?" I'm like, "Well, he was fourth gear pinned on a 450. We don't have the room for this." *Laughing* And the landing, a 65-foot tall landing would be pretty big.

But it basically allows us to build the next generation of ramps, so for me that's where a lot of the fun stuff is. And working before we had Bagjumps, where for World Games we invented all this stuff to basically be able to take it from a flat bag to a landing bag, and then eventually take the bag away. So at World Games we have landing bags, but the new bags that Bagjump just made is actually stiff enough where Beaver Flemming landed a double back flip on a skateboard and rode out of it on the bag. And I dove into it, literally. I didn't mean to, but Phil Smage was doing...he jumped onto a bus, did a nose manual across the top, grabbed a handful of front brake and front-flipped off the bus. And I was like, "Oh, I could do that." and then I can't...as it turns out. So I just dove onto this thing with the bike on top of me, but it was fun! So it's cool to see that progression and to have an excuse to really work on safety and figure out, you know, what we can do to make the sports bigger and safer in the future.

Vital MX: There's something that might come as a surprise to most people. You're talking about the safety side of it, I guess a lot of people would probably just look and think, "Oh, these guys just wing it for the most part." And the more I talk to you, the more calculated I hear stuff that you guys actually come up with. And not only that from how you guys did the ramps, to the landings for safety and everything, is actually yourself.

I was actually watching some of your original stuff, like the TP199 Revelation, some of the "Nitro Circus" movies, and watched that "Unchained" movie, it showed some of your original stuff from back in the day. Watching those, I could see how you're sided a little bit towards safety and caution as things have gone on. And actually, I went down in EVS's headquarters a while back and they've made a bunch of different stuff for you. You've always, kind of, tried to be smart about that, a little bit.

Travis Pastrana: Yeah, but it's funny because everyone's always like "Oh, you know, he's wearing a helmet, so it's okay," "He's not wearing a helmet or whatever, so he's an idiot." Well, yes, I mean always wear the helmet while you're doing stuff, but I pad up based on a calculated decision on what's possibly gonna go wrong. So for most of the filming that we did for the movie back in, whatever, 2010 or 2011, I looked like a marshmallow or the Michelin man. I was padded up so much, just head-to-toe, because I was like "there's a pretty good chance I'm crashing and I don't know how I'm gonna crash". There was one where we hydroplaned across the pool, hit the edge of the pool, went over the baby pool, and onto a little grass area down a big rock cliff. I'm like, "There's a good chance I'm gonna be just endo-ing into the rocks.

So, I looked like an idiot and everyone's like, "Oh, ha ha, you're wearing all the pads." I'm like, "Yeah, but if I were to crash, I mean, it still would hurt." But the beauty at EVS man, and having good sponsors...shit, I've been with EVS for so long...Todd and the guys have always built whatever I needed, and a lot of that stuff has actually gone into product in the future. So I haven't worn knee braces because my knees are so messed up they don't function like normal knees. They don't bend right. The EVS crew is always like, "Why don't you wear the knee brace?" I'm like, "They don't work." Like, just nothing works on my knees. They're so jacked.

But now I've got these new 199 EVS pads. They have a neoprene, super, super tight wrap....because I don't have an ACL or TCL on my right knee, so it kind of holds the joint in place when the muscles get tired, and then still has the protection of a knee guard plus a little extra for shenanigans that may or may not occur.

Vital MX: For Action Figures 2, how much different is the process than what you've done for the first one? Because I think I remember when I talked to you about the first one, it was, I think, pretty much self-funded on your end, most of your own ideas.

Travis Pastrana: You know, it's funny, because every time something looks like a good deal or financially beneficial, it really...it doesn't work for the brand. It doesn't work for...I mean, it does. So that's where I'm always butting heads with the guys that are a lot smarter than me at Nitro, because I'm like, "I want to do the biggest stuff. I want to have the best product. I want to do it as safe as we possibly can." And they're like, "Okay. Well this movie's gonna make X amount. That's your audience, that's, you know, what it's gonna do." And I'm like, "Great. I want to do this, this, this, and this." Then they're like, "Well, those numbers don't add up." I'm like, "Well, but, you know, that's what... You know, we'll do the tours and we'll do everything, and we're having fun....It's about progression." And that's why we did World Games.

With that, everyone's like "Oh, you're trying to take over X Games." Like, no no, not at all! X Games will do all the sports and they have the standardized ramps, so it's like the Olympics now. They're coming in and, man, you've got all these ramps that are exactly the same. Well for me, action sports is about progression, it's about trying stuff that's never been tried. And yeah, before it used to be a shovel or a Bobcat, and now we've got ramps that are 40 or 50 foot tall...with 60, 70-foot tall landings, and a lot of them are so steep we can't build them out of dirt anymore. So now it has to be metal and we've learned a lot about welding...a lot about decreasing radius. You know, the bicycle ramps all have decreasing radius, which means they start wider and at the top they're tighter radius, which gives you more pop. Well that's because they're decelerating on the takeoff. With the motorcycles, for the best pop, you need to have basically a flat area on the top where the front end can kind of decompress and allow you to spin faster. So it's kind of the exact opposite technology, well I don't know why you call it technology, it's redneck ingenuity. 

But it's been really fun learning how to make things easier. And even though some people say they're cheater ramps I'm like, yeah, but a front flip is really, really, really hard. Now we can do double front flips and variations, and we can even do 200-foot front flips and be pretty consistent with it. You know, at the end of the day, you're still front flipping a dirt bike and you can still really mess it up. The risk factor doesn't go down, just the ability to land it goes up.

So this year everyone's like, "Oh, well, front flip ramps do everything for you." and I'm like, "No, it's just a curb." Like, prove it! So we put a curb at the edge of a bus and I back flipped up, landed in a wheelie, rode across, hit the curb and front flipped off. And I was, like, "It's just a curb, that's all it is." But you can't wheelie consistently over a ramp at any distance. So that's why we make it so the curb comes to you.

Vital MX: Oh, geez. So without giving away too much of any kind of spoiler for the movie...you want it to be a shocker, but what are some of the locations or ideas, what's something you can tease people to tell them about "Action Figures 2" that might get them hyped up?

Travis Pastrana: What's really cool about this year's Action Figures was we gave everyone...I mean, pretty small budgets but we picked six guys and said, "Okay, here's the deal. You guys are going to go and you're going to spend this here and you're going to film anything that you want to film, and here's your budget to build ramps and do this and do whatever". Then we said we're going to have two big film days at my house. We're going to go to Kevin Windhams to shoot the opening, and we're going to go to Phoenix to shoot this really huge, extravagant, kind of cover shot if you will.

I said, "Look, you're all invited to all of those, and if you have something that will blow everyone's mind somewhere, we'll send all of the camera guys out and we'll all come to cheer you on." So of course...it went over budget right away, but that's fine because that's what this is about. It's about pushing the envelope, trying new stuff, and you know, just for me, seeing Trevor Jacob, we're all down filming at my house a couple weeks ago and he drops off the roof on a skateboard. It's a steep roof, and the backside, it's you know...it's two stories plus the basement. And the roof's steep, four stories down into the pool, and the pool's pretty small. So that was pretty cool!

And then we got testing for next year's You Got This Tour. We realized that the BMX ramp was within two degrees and within one foot of the motor ramp, so we got a train going. It's triple back flip BMX, double back flip motorcycle. Triple back flip BMX, double back flip motor. Triple back flip BMX, double back flip motor. Only two of us rode out...there was a cluster on the backside, but gosh, it was cool! So yeah, stuff like that.

Vital MX: I think a lot of people saw virally on the internet, you just fell down a dirt slope and broke your wrist. But the day before that, you landed I'm guessing what's probably about the biggest trick you've ever tried because I think I talked to you about what it might be, and you told me it's pretty freaky what you tried. I mean, to kind of stamp it for this movie, did you land what you'd consider the biggest trick or stunt you've ever attempted?

Travis Pastrana: Yes, definitely. You know, it was a a 25-foot tall take off ramp at 70 degrees, so a little under ten foot smaller and a couple degrees less than Josh Sheehan's triple flip jump. So Sheehan went higher for the triple back flip, that was huge and definitely next level. But this one was way more technical than that, and pretty big. As I told you I hit so hard...I crashed the first time and somehow didn't kill myself. And...actually...I shat myself on landing. Knocked myself completely silly and was able to get up before the end of the day and get it around. So it's, you know...it's really something that I've been working hard towards for quite some years and it's one of those things where everyone's like, "Oh well, come back another day." And I'm like, "I'm not going to come back another day." This is something that everything's in place, the jump's perfect, the weather's perfect, the people are here. "If I'm going to do this trick, it's going to happen today" and it worked. So that was awesome and we got the ending part of the movie.

I'm stoked, I contributed something that I think everyone will think is pretty rad. And man, we had so much fun just testing all these new ramps for all the new tours. I got back in charge of creative for Nitro, so all the tours this year, we call them the You Got This Tours, the Next Level Tour, because I keep telling everyone "All right, this is our baseline." They're like, "What are you talking about?" I'm like, "You got this." So everyone was laughing so hard they kind of named it, but it's going to be a big year for Nitro.

Vital MX: On the safety equipment side, what's probably the most unique thing EVS or anybody's had to make for you for a stunt? Is there anything just really out there, or like you said, full on Michelin Man?

Travis Pastrana: Well, what's interesting is...I have a pretty uniquely shaped body. I'm 6'2" but I have a reach of 6'4", sp a lot of the bodysuits and stuff we'd have to modify...which they have in all the stuff now. It's where the elbows can kind of be a little longer than and you can stretch things out or bring things in depending on your length. So I've had a lot of custom stuff that was a little outside the box, but I needed shoulder surgery really bad. I had a pretty bad torn rotator cuff and my labrum was gone, so it was popping out on all three axes. And my hip was really weird...it was just a hematoma, but I got run over by Streetbike Tommy in a pit bike race at the very beginning. He just went wide open into the first turn and just flat ran me over, which was fun...I think, but I actually had compartment syndrome in my quad.

So if I touched that at all, it just felt like I was going to die. Also, it would kind of refill up and I had to go get it drained, it was just gnarly. So we had to basically get an entire leg pad incase I landed directly on my hip. Actually, that whole area wouldn't even touch the ground, which looked a little funny in some of the shots. And then, obviously, my shoulder needed a full EVS shoulder brace. So we were also using, kind of like an extra strong version of that where I could literally tie that shoulder down and then use some pads on the top of it so I wouldn't, you know, dislocate it just on impact or something. So what's really cool about going with Todd and all the guys at EVS, is they will take me in, measure, fit, and will do everything, then they'll build it in shop and I'll have the product in two days. So it's been a really cool relationship as I've given them some pretty unique challenges.

Vital MX: I feel like you're possibly one of the ultimate R&D guys due to the amount of stuff you can mess up. I mean, you're kind of invaluable in that area.

Travis Pastrana: Yeah, but like a brace company sponsoring me or a helmet company, is a scary proposition because I'm pushing a lot. And I've slowed down quite a bit, but still, even last...a couple weeks ago I was 75 feet off of ground level. Like...shit goes wrong. And you know, you get hurt so much. It's not a sales point, but the fact that I keep going back to these guys and I keep learning a lot from my injuries and figuring out what works to hold it in place, and at the same time I need full mobility. And I need more mobility than most, it's different than racing which is pretty simple. It's really straight forward as to how much you need to move. Freestyle however, is very much the opposite. You need to have full range of motion with your neck and your head, and even helmet visors and everything needs to be in a place where you can see the maximum potential for spinning and clipping. And no restrictions on any access, but still restricted enough that you don't dislocate stuff. It's a hard sport to brace, for sure but they do a good job.


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3 comments
  • mikec265

    12/29/2017 8:52 PM

    This and the recent McGrath interview are in my opinion the 2 best interviews on Vital in 2017.

  • cvm

    12/29/2017 2:55 AM

    As a fellow Md'er, all the mad respect and admiration in the world for this man.
    And then some more.

    But there has to be a couple screws loose somewhere.
    Or he has a couple extra that the rest of us humans just don't have
    Mad props Travis. Stay safe we need you.

  • flmpkr661

    12/28/2017 8:06 PM

    Dudes gnarly!

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