To say he lives the dream may be an understatement. With millions of followers and seemingly almost as many ways to have fun, Travis Pastrana could never be accused of not living life to the fullest. If there were a box to check on your income tax form labeled professional “fun maker,” that is the box Pastrana would be checking. Among the many things Pastrana has done for fun include racing Supercross, racing rally cars, dominating the X-Games, his world famous stunt show Nitro Circus, racing Nascar and of course recreating Evil Knievel’s three most legendary jumps for live television in 2018. Of course Pastrana also has his famous compound in Davidsonville Maryland where you WILL be required to learn how to backflip a motorcycle and back in 2007 Pastrana was apparently so bored that he jumped out of a plane without a parachute before linking up with another skydiver in midair.
Pastrana added something else to the resume this past Saturday as he took part in the first ever AFT TT race at Atlanta Speedway. While Pastrana has tried a couple of times in past years to qualify at a professional flat track race, the uniqueness of the track at Atlanta seemed like it could actually help his cause of making the field as many of the series regulars were feeling like fish out of water on the peculiar layout.
Coaxed into making an appearance at the event by adventure partner and sometimes AFT competitor Ryan Sipes, Pastrana barely squeaked under the maximum age limit of 39 in the AFT Singles class. With their usual hefty one dollar (American money I might add) bet on the line for head to head results between the two of them, Pastrana and Sipes headed to Atlanta to try their best. While many thought he would fail to qualify for the event, Pastrana did his best to laugh off the upcoming weekend, but a racer is a racer so deep down you know he was hoping for a good showing while of course finishing ahead of Sipes. Pastrana even had a new helmet made for the event full of sayings including “I retired 20 years ago,” “I have two kids,” “My wrists really don’t work,” “I didn’t practice,” “Underprepared and over confident” and “Beer is delicious.” The final line on the helmet was “199 Problems But ‘No’ Ain’t one.”
Riding his beautiful KTM, Pastrana took part in a test day on the Friday before the race and perhaps to the surprise of some he was tenth quickest. With his buddy Sipes being second quickest at that time, Pastrana jokingly said at that point he needed to pick up the pace a bit so come race time he could take Sipes out in corner one.
Pastrana continued to improve on Saturday and his results were starting to sway some of the doubters. The Singles practice session saw him seventh quickest and in the second round of qualifying he was sixth fastest which was actually ahead of Sipes and less than half a second off the quickest time in the session.
As luck would have it Sipes and Pastrana ended up in the same heat race and after a quick intro to the crowd where he back flipped his motorcycle (because everybody does that at a flat track race), Pastrana took his spot on the starting line where he would need to finish in the top eight to qualify for the final. After a not so great start, Pastrana found himself in 9th position early on before starting to make his way towards the front of the field. Pastrana made it up to 6th place and looked like he was going to finish there before he was passed on the last lap by Cole Zabala relegating Pastrana to 7th at the line. Pastrana’s 7th place finish surprised a few and saw series regulars Andrew Luker, Morgen Mischler and Michael Inderbitzin reduced to spectators after being beaten by Pastrana. Good news for Pastrana was that he had qualified, bad news is that Sipes had finished 3rd.
The final race was almost anticlimactic as Pastrana found himself stuck in the pack trying to make his way towards the front. As Dallas Daniels took a convincing victory, Pastrana tried his best to make up ground but at the line it was Pastrana finishing a respectable 9th while his buddy Sipes was one spot ahead of him in 8th. Although I’m sure he was reluctant to hand over $1 to Sipes at race end, Pastrana can take consolation in knowing he finished much better on this night than last time he was at Atlanta Speedway in the Nationwide series and finished 17th.
A couple of side notes on the Atlanta TT. While most seemed to enjoy the race, none enjoyed it more than the folks at Yamaha. Yamaha blue took the victory in all three main events as young superstar Dallas Daniels was victorious in both the Singles and Production Twins classes while fan fave JD Beach rode to a convincing win in the Mission Supertwins class.
Flat Track Canada president Aaron Hesmer most likely watched this event with more than average interest. The Atlanta TT track had pavement and dirt combinations much like the track that is planned for the event Hesmer is having at Jukasa Speedway if the pandemic restrictions are lifted or allow such an event to take place this season. Fingers crossed!