Flashback 2000: When Travis Pastrana Tried Snocross Racing

Travis Pastrana on snowmobile
Seen here racing on a borrowed sled, Travis Pastrana competed in a snocross race in December of 2000. Photo copyright Snow Goer magazine.

On the first weekend of December in 2000, we sent then-Managing Editor Eric Skogman to the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario-area to capture an early-season snowmobile snocross race at the Searchmont ski hill. He called us the first night (something he never did) with an update:

“Pastrana is here,” Skogman said, talking in a hushed tone, as if sharing the country’s nuclear codes.  

Pastrana? As in Summer X Games wild child Travis Pastrana?

“Yep. And he’s racing,” Skogman reported in a whisper. “He just, like, showed up and borrowed a sled. He’s going to race in the Juniors class.”

We’re not sure if Eric thought that Pastrana’s appearance was supposed to be a national secret or what. As much as anything, we think he was trying to contain his excitement of seeing one of his heroes from another sport at a snowmobiling event.

When he got back, Skogman pounded out a l-o-n-g, multi-page story for that week’s issue of Snow Week, detailing the weekend’s events. That included Noel Kohanski’s win in Pro Open, Dave Stephenson’s surprising victory in Pro 600 after two other competitors were disqualified post-race and Michael Island’s breakthrough in Pro 500.

But ultimately, when you stopped by Skogman’s cube to see how the story was coming, all he wanted to discuss was Pastrana!

Our dear friend Eric passed away 2011 after a valiant battle with cancer. Pastrana? Yeah, he’s put together a nice little career with his Nitro Circus show and tour, and recently competed in the Daytona 500 NASCAR race.

Here’s Skogman’s report on Pastrana’s lone snocross racing appearance, ripped from the December 18, 2000 issue of Snow Week. You can get your own hard-copy of the entire issue of Snow Week on the SnowGoerStore website, while supplies last.

Travis Pastrana
Then 17, Travis Pastrana in the pits at Searchmont in December of 2000. Photo copyright Snow Goer magazine.

Add Snowmobile Racing To Pastrana’s Accomplishments

In the motocross world, Travis Pastrana is one of the most talented racers since Jeremy McGrath.

Riding for Team Suzuki he’s perfected motocross freestyle, and has jettisoned himself to the top of the charts in motocross racing. Now add snowmobile racing to his accomplishments.

Three months after taking a gold medal at the ESPN Summer X Games in the Freestyle Motocross event, 17-year-old Travis Pastrana of Annapolis, Maryland, stood on a hillside in the cold Canadian air waiting for his turn to race snowmobiles.

The popular freestyle motocrosser and Supercross racer first threw a leg over a snowmobile on snow only a day before the Canadian Snow Cross Racing Association (CSRA) season opener in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

“I rode a motocross track when it was just dirt,” Pastrana said about his first time on a sled. “It was kind of tough.”

He then practiced on snow at the CSRA track at the Searchmont  Ski Resort on Friday.

Snow Week December of 2000
Travis Pastrana’s only attempt at snocross racing was captured in this issue of Snow Week.

“It’s pretty interesting,” Pastrana said about snowmobile racing. “I had fun in practice. I can jump OK but I can’t turn at all.”

Two years ago, Pastrana shocked the moto world by jumping his motocross bike into the San Francisco Bay at the Summer X Games in San Francisco, California. That stunt angered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and ESPN officials threatened to strip away his gold medal. Although his dad was fined $10,000, Pastrana kept the gold medal.

Like other motocross stars, Pastrana wanted to see what snowmobile racing was all about. Through some motocross and snowmobile connections, he landed a Ski-Doo to ride.

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“I saw Doug Henry and Shaun Palmer and a couple of guys switch over, even though they didn’t do that great,” Pastrana said. “Then Tucker Hibbert this year was racing the [AMA] Millville [Minnesota Outdoor] National and he did awesome, and I was like, ‘Well, I’ll give it a shot and see if I can do it at all.’”

Pastrana’s debut on snowmobiles was much like his motocross life. Racing in the Junior 14-17 class, Pastrana won his heat on Saturday and qualified for the final on Sunday. However, Pastrana was a no-show for Sunday’s final. He reportedly was stricken with the flu and was unable to race.

Although his snowmobile racing debut was a semi-success, don’t expect to see Pastrana at more events – yet.

“This will probably be it for this year,” he said. “I have a pretty busy motocross schedule. I just wanted to give it a shot. I had a week off so why not. I’d like to eventually get into this, though.”

Editor’s Note: Every Snow Goer issue includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive print and/or digital issues.

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