Travis Pastrana is ready to check NASCAR’s Daytona 500 off his bucket list
Travis Pastrana has accomplished a lot in his almost 40 years on this planet. The action sports star has won motocross racing championships, X-game titles, and rally car titles. He also jumped out of planes (without umbrella On at least one occasion) and did all sorts of wild stunts as part of Nitro Circus. He also created the Nitro RallyCross series in 2018. Now in its fourth season, Pastrana is the series champion.
He has also raced in NASCAR, in both the Xfinity Series (42 starts) and the Truck (5 starts) on a mostly part-time basis.
Next month, Pastrana will attempt something he’s never attempted before, racing in the NASCAR Cup Series with an attempt to race the Daytona 500.
23XI Racing Announced Tuesday They will field a third car for the Daytona 500 for Pastrana. The 39-year-old will team up with 23XI’s full-time drivers, Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. The team is owned by Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan, with backing from Toyota.
“This is an absolute dream come true just to have a chance,” Pastrana said Tuesday after the announcement. “I thought it was, it’s really important to me, I wanted to get involved and do my best with the best team I can. I think 23XI is absolutely perfect.”
However, just because he entered the Daytona 500 doesn’t mean he will take the green flag on Sunday, February 19th. This is due in large part to its open access.
In all, there are 40 race spots available. With 36 spots going to chartered teams with guaranteed starting spots, that leaves just 4 places for open entries, i.e. those without charters. Two of those open spots will be awarded to the two fastest open cars in qualifying, and the final two spots will be won by the highest open entry car in one of the two “duel” races held on the Thursday before Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Among the other open cars already announced is the car of 7-time Cup Champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner Jimmy Johnson who will race for Legacy Motor Club, the team that became a minority owner late last season, along with IndyCar Champion Helio Castroneves. .
“To be able to go to the event, earn my spot, I think is really important,” Pastrana said. “Especially with the fans. I didn’t think you would know Jimmy Johnson, Hélio Castroneves and many other great drivers trying to qualify for four places. But you know, it’s going to be a great week.”
Pastrana’s effort will be sponsored by Black Rifle Coffee Company, a veteran-owned business and longtime supporter of Pastrana’s.
“With sponsors like Black Rifle, it’s really cool because their goal is not just to race or reveal the race,” Pastrana said. “They want to be there all Speed Week. We got all kinds of promotional materials. We’ll be reaching out to all the fans. We’re signing autographs and we’ll be there every step of the way to try and make this whole experience amazing.”
“All my long lost friends, family, and relatives,” he added with a chuckle before becoming serious. “And, you know, a lot of veterans are going out for some kind of support and I think that would be really cool.”
Aside from all the stunts, motocross, X-games, and racing in NASCAR, Travis Pastrana is still very much a businessman and must juggle many things to keep revenue streams flowing so he can do what he wants to do. Like many successful entrepreneurs, Pastrana says it comes down to those around him.
He said, “Well, at the end of the day, try to surround yourself with the best people in everything they do.” “The best mechanics, the best teams, try to discover like-minded people with similar goals.
“My father is more of a builder, more of a backward side,” he added with a laugh. He said, “I looked around and you’re the dumbest person at the table, but it’s your table.” Good job, son.
“So at the end of the day, everything, all jokes aside, I’ve made all the decisions I’ve made for, I feel like, the right reasons and I’ve surrounded myself with people who just want to have fun, who want to do good things.”
Like many successful entrepreneurs, he has had his share of failures.
“I’ve made a lot of really bad business decisions,” he said. “I could have made a lot of money chasing that kind of thing, but at the end of the day, I really want to be like, you know, I want to do the best I can.”
Pastrana admits that some of those bad decisions came when he eventually tried different motorsport disciplines to find ones he could be successful at.
“For me, it’s just trying to have time to sit down and understand when to throw in the towel,” he said. “But also, I’m not very good at throwing in the towel and always thought I could do that.”
“This has always been a bucket list,” Pastrana added. “And it’s definitely not a win-win thing for me to race the Daytona 500 but it’s something I really want to do. And I’m not getting any younger, so I think we’ve got great sponsorship, we’ve had a great couple of years racing and let’s go and have some fun.”
So yeah, Travis Pastrana really does have a bucket list. And soon he’s hoping to check the box that says Daytona 500.
“I have a few things left on my wish list,” he said. “But next to each of those they have the word ‘win’, like the Baja 1000, I did. Let’s go and win that. Dakar I think would be a great slate. But again, I think with time, I’ll have a shot at winning this event. I’m probably crazy “But I go into the Daytona 500 wanting to be a part of the great American race. I want to be in. I want to represent the sponsors as best I can. I want to have a chance to race. But above all, I want to be a part of this. I want to add Some value to it. I want to go and get a five for every fan out there.”
While he wants to win in everything he does, Travis Pastrana seems very content to be a part of the Great American Race.
“This is bigger than anything I’ve done,” he said. “It’s the best drivers around the world, especially the best drivers in America. And to be able to line up alongside them especially if I can qualify and get into the actual 500, that will be something I will be able to smile proudly on for the rest of my life.”