Travis Pastrana Nitro Circus

Travis Pastrana can turn riding a pink plastic Big Wheel into a death-defying act of total insanity. Sure, his new flick, "Nitro Circus 3D," has monster trucks, crazy B.A.S.E. jumps off a skyscraper in Panama and a rally-car flip that looks like NASCAR’s worst nightmare, but watching Pastrana and his daring Nitro Circus crew jump a rickety kid’s toy across two high rises really confirms that they’re out of their minds.

The movie opens August 8 and it’s an in-your-face experience where Pastrana and Nitro regulars Gregg Godfrey, Jeremy Rawle, “Streetbike Tommy,” “Special Greg” and Jolene Van Vugt travel to Panama, Utah and Maryland, tempting fate and kicking ass. It culminates in the 2011 Nitro Circus live show in Las Vegas.

Last Friday, Travis revealed his scariest moment in filming the movie, which action sports athletes he looks up to the most and why the bonus DVD for "Nitro Circus 3D" would be epic. Check it out...

You guys made the film on your own, D.I.Y.-style instead of relying on Hollywood studios. How’d you pull it off?

We couldn't find a studio that was willing to take a risk on a movie that was nearly impossible to insure. When Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle (both producers, co-writers and co-directors of the movie) pitched our stunt ideas for "Nitro Circus 3D," they had idea after idea shut down. It got to the point where we knew if this movie was to be as good as we wanted it, we would have to finance, film and produce it ourselves. 

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How did you decide to shoot the film in 3D? Did the restrictions of shooting it that way affect your stunts at all?

Gregg Godfrey was the one pushing for 3D. He saw the huge value of 3D in a stunt-based movie immediately. At first, all I saw was a gimmick that would double the budget and slow the pace down on set. Nothing is more frustrating then being pumped up and ready for a stunt and someone yelling, "hold for cameras!" It took an hour to move camera positions. We ended up firing some of the most talented camera crew halfway through filming because they weren't used to the fast pace of Nitro Circus.

Some of us were getting frustrated so Godfrey had the great idea to start showing us playback. It was instant gratification and the second we saw how intense the shots were looking, we all slowed down and gave them time to do their job. I'm so thankful that Gregg pushed for 3D now. It's something that truly sets our film apart in an amazing way.

What was the hairiest moment during shooting? And the most epic?

The hairiest moment by far came (during) a stunt that none of us really gave much thought to. We always assume that anything with a roll cage is "safe." When (we used) the ramp we got specs for off the Internet (it was supposed to replicate the old 007 ramp where they did the barrel roll), Jim DeChamp and Street Bike Tommy flew double the distance they were supposed to fly and landed directly on the roof.

The roll cage collapsed on impact. Two of our best friends were in that car and we all thought there was no way they could have survived. Tommy's helmet crushed in but luckily he was in a horrible crash earlier in life where he shattered his skull and it is now really thick. He was able to get out of the car and was alert enough to help us cut Jim out of the other side. Jim broke his back and had a massive concussion. Luckily, Jim was able to walk out of the hospital… a week later. 

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Most of the stunts that we really enjoyed didn't make the film because they weren't intense enough. More than half of the stunts we did won't be in the movie (the bonus DVD will be epic!). My favorite stunt in the movie was either trying to hydroplane a Suzuki GSX-R1000 across a lake -- I entered the lake at over 100 mph! -- or the one where we set up a slip-and-slide with a 20-foot tall jump at the end. (We) used a motorcycle and a long ski rope to get us up to speed. Special Greg hit it the fastest and went 70 feet high, 250 feet long and did a flip with a spin before entering the lake feet first!

Who do you look up to as far as ballsiness and guts?

My two biggest heroes are Shane McConkey and Matt Hoffman. They both pushed the bounds of possibility and live life to the fullest. As far as peers that I respect the most, I'm proud to be a part of the Nitro Circus crew and my respect for every member is continually strengthened. No one ever has to ask someone in our crew to step up and they have all put their lives in someone else's hands at some point. That trust comes from a mutual respect. It's a great thing to have.

What do you hope the film does for your crew and yourself?

Some of our most epic ideas didn't fit within our budget for this self-financed film. To raise the amplitude, we need to build things bigger. This Nitro Circus film is so great because anyone can relate to a good majority of the stunts. Of course the skyscrapers and hydroplaning across the Nitro City pool are a little bit of a fantasy for most, but if/when this movie does well all of my friends might actually be able to quit their day jobs and focus on being, as Tommy would say, AWESOME! [laughs].

"The roll cage collapsed on impact. Two of our best friends were in that car and we all thought there was no way they could have survived."

The jump between the two skyscrapers on a Big Wheel was insane. What was that like to pull off?

Jumping from a 56-story building and looking down nearly 600 feet while jumping a plastic rear wheeled Big Wheel is something I can't really explain. I jumped it on a bicycle first and that was scary enough because the ramp was so sketchy, but we've seen so many Big Wheels break getting to the ramp that I had a lot of "what ifs" going through my mind!

You have a ton of really young fans at the live shows. If some 8-year-old walked up and said, “I want to do what you do,” what would you tell them?

I'd tell that 8-year-old kid looking up at me with a huge smile on his face to "never lose that smile!" For me, I couldn't imagine waking up and going to a job that didn't inspire me. There will be days that a desk job seems a lot easier. A desk will never fly through a wall and smash you. A paper cut will never put you in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. For a good majority of athletes, they will never become famous or make enough money to retire. But if you love what you do, there is nothing in the world that will ever compare to that feeling.

Will we get to see you square off with Sebastien Loeb anytime soon?

This year at X Games was by far my most disappointing X Games I've ever had. We did a lot of testing with the Dodge Dart and I was finally back to my old form in rally after spending so much time over the past year either hurt or focusing solely on NASCAR. This was evident two weeks later when I won the next round of the (Global RallyCross) in New Hampshire but it was not meant to be at X.

Things started off bad from the beginning. Practice was emotional because two great drivers, Marcus Gronholm and Toomas Heikkinen, were badly injured. Sebastian Loeb broke his car over the big jump on his second lap of qualifying and I was able to qualify ahead of him. This gave me the opportunity to start pole for the final.

The course was very difficult to pass and I was pretty excited about the opportunity to attempt to hold off the world’s best in the biggest action sports event in the United States. Then, just as winning seemed almost tangible, Andy Scott drove into the first turn too deep and plastered both of us on the wall. My car was completely destroyed and any hopes of racing Loeb were gone. I know it was a long shot but every racer believes they can win or they wouldn't bother showing up. It's the worst feeling in the world to have that chance to try taken away.

What driver/rider past or present would you like to race against?

The rider I'd like to ride against most, his prime to my prime, would probably be Damon Bradshaw. He was so aggressive and I really enjoy battling people who aren't scared to bump to get the job done! The driver I would have wanted to drive against most in history was (Scottish rally driver) Colin McRae. Fortunately I had the opportunity to compete against Colin and it was even more amazing because we were on the same team. Truly one of my greatest experiences!

 

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