Travis Pastrana says that he intends to keep on rallying, describing the sport’s United States scene as “perfect”.
The five-time US rally champion is set this year to return for his first full-time American Rally Association series campaign since 2017 – a season that will feature a recently-reworked schedule as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
But while his hectic touring schedule with Nitro Circus has kept him away from the stages for most events in recent seasons, the action sports icon says that no matter what, he’ll always be competing on rally events.
“My goal in life, when everything slows down, I don’t care if it’s as a privateer or with Subaru – it’ll be in a Subaru – paying or being paid, I want to go rallying,” he told DirtFish.
Pastrana, who shared his Subaru seat with Oliver Solberg last year, praised rallying’s position in the US, saying that the level it finds itself at has led to a hugely competitive series unlike any other.
While not comparable to the likes of NASCAR. IndyCar, or the IMSA sportscar series in terms of fan numbers or manufacturer interest, rallying in America is hugely popular at a grassroots level and cultivates a hugely passionate following.
Pastrana, one of the few factory-backed drivers in the ARA, said that the series’ relatively lower prestige – when compared to the likes of its European equivalents – actually plays to its favor, and that the community spirit of US rallying makes it a much more enjoyable stomping ground.
“I think in the US it’s perfect because you’ve got a couple of great teams and great rivals but there’s probably more competition even in the lower, less expensive categories just because it’s not as big here in the States.
“It doesn’t matter what your budget or what your skill level [is], there’s competition for you from the bottom to the top and I really hope that ARA continues to grow and to be so much fun.
“I think that when you go to a WRC or Supercross or anything, there’s a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of money involved.
“Not to say that there’s not [money involved] in US rally, but it’s definitely a lower level, even at the top level. You’re always signing autographs, you’re talking to the fans, you’re talking to the media, you’ve got cameras in every stage.
“In US rallying you’re going out, you’re pushing the limits, you’re having a blast, you’re driving a race car and you’re doing it with all your friends, all your crew. As much as everyone’s competitive, they still want to see you do your best.
“They want to make sure that you don’t crash the first two rounds and then don’t have the budget to get to round four or whatever it is and that’s pretty cool.
“I really like where US rallying is because obviously I love rallying, but at the same time it’s my favorite place to be.”
However Pastrana, who took to rallying after making his name in motocross and FMX, says that Stateside rallying should be wary of balancing growth with keeping what makes the series strong right now.
“It’s tough because X Games started off like that and action sports back in the early ‘90s was about fun and then it was weird because right when it went from fun and exciting, all of a sudden money started coming in and people were getting recognized and you’re like holy crap I’ve got half a million dollars that I can win today right now if I stick this one trick and it got scary because people were really pushing it,” Pastrana said.
“There’s more injuries, there’s more pressure, there’s more sponsors, there’s more fans.
“It takes something away when the money comes in but it’s where we want to get to so it’s a really tough balance trying to keep the excitement and the camaraderie and the passion of US rally because everyone wants it to be the World Rally Championship but it’s perfect as it is.”