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Travis Pastrana Q&A

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Cars aren’t supposed to fly. They can speed around racetracks, go on trips to the grocery store, and even tackle off-road trails. But flying, that’s for airplanes and helicopters, right? Not according to Travis Pastrana. On December 31, the action sports superstar is going to attempt to break the world record for longest distance jump in a rally car. As part of the Red Bull: New Year. No Limits event (11 p.m. ET, ESPN), Pastrana hopes to smash the record of 171 feet by launching off a ramp at the end of a pier in Long Beach, California, and then touching down on a landing ramp that is built on a floating pier in the Pacific Ocean. Pastrana stopped by the offices recently to discuss this amazing stunt.

Q. What have the preparations been like for this jump?

A. This is the most prepared we’ve ever been. The ramp has been the toughest part. No one’s really flown a car that far. Ken Block [jumped] 170 feet, but we found that around 190 feet the aerodynamics change. Five miles an hour [of headwind] at the distance we’re trying affects the car 40 feet on the backside of the jump.

Q. Have you gone the same distance in practice?

A. I’ve done a similar stunt. But [it’s a different story] onto a barge over water, and the run in is way sketchier. You’ve got to be spot on. Three miles an hour is the difference between hitting the water and hitting the [landing].

Q. How fast do you need to go?

A. Depending on the wind, it could be anywhere from 93 to 98 miles per hour. You can figure it out mathematically, but the wind changes from the time you start the run in to the time you’re going up.

Q. What kind of car are you using?

A. We’re not using a super modified car, this is a race spec rally car. I was like let’s go old school, Dukes of Hazard-style. You can go and get a Subaru off the shelf and if you hit the sweet spot, it’ll do pretty much the same thing this car will do. So it’s something most people can relate to.

Q. Did you have any accidents while practicing for this jump?

A. I rolled [the car] a few times. I did a jump with the motorcycle at 81 miles an hour. Then I jumped it with the car at 81 and it went 20 feet shorter. I hit the deck [of the landing] and bounced all the way to the flat bottom. I landed with my tires up.

Q. Are you scared?

Of course I’m scared.