Count 2012 among the busiest – but most exciting – years of Travis Pastrana’s life.
Besides a foray into the world of stock car racing, Pastrana, 28, has signed up for the full slate of Global Rallycross Championship rounds with the backing of new sponsor Discount Tire. The result has been one of the strongest new partnerships in the racing world, culminating in Discount Tire’s sponsorship of a three race mini-championship within the GRC and a contest to send two lucky fans to this year’s X Games.
The contest, which runs on Discount Tire’s Facebook page through June 21, gives the winner and a companion $500 spending cash, airfare to Los Angeles, a car rental and a hotel room. But more importantly, the winner gets to enjoy X Games, particularly the GRC section of the event, and a meet and greet opportunity with Pastrana.
“X Games is by far the highest pedestal in action sports,” says the 17-time medalist. (The contest winner will) see the best of the best in any discipline that you want to go check out while you’re out there, and we’ll have some time to hang out, and talk about racing or whatever, and just get the whole experience of what it’s like to be in those shoes. It’s a busy time, but it’s a lot of fun.”
It won’t be the first promotional appearance of its kind for Pastrana, who has been working on behalf of his sponsors all season long. But for one of motorsports’ most personable drivers, such appearances are far more play than work.
Before the GRC season opener at Charlotte, Pastrana and Brad Keselowski, Discount Tire’s NASCAR driver, had a particularly fun autograph session. “The coolest part about Discount Tire with the autograph signings, everything they set up, was that was at Dave and Buster’s. (Today’s) is going to be at a go-kart track with video games. They make it so everyone’s having a good time.
“And their athletes, or drivers, or whatever you want to call us,” Pastrana laughs, “we’re really excited when they set that up, because it’s fun for us, too. And it really gives us a chance to communicate and talk to the fans that come out.”
X Games will mark the third of six rounds on this year’s GRC schedule, and it serves as its marquee event. But as an additional caveat for drivers to perform well in other rounds, the Discount Tire/America’s Tire Cup, plus a $25,000 cash bonus, will be awarded to the driver who scores the best finishes at Texas on Saturday, New Hampshire on July 14, and the season finale at Las Vegas on September 29.
“It really gives us something to shoot for. I mean, we had a pretty bad event in the first round,” Pastrana says, noting accidents in both a heat race and the final that weren’t of his doing. “Dallas is the first round of the three-round, second championship within a championship. We’re definitely looking forward to putting our best foot forward here and having a great race and getting that started off well.”
For Pastrana, having strong corporate partners, especially ones that he works well with, makes his job easier both on and off the track. “It’s a really neat program with the Discount Tire guys. (We were) really just looking at sponsors that attract a few different marketplaces.
“With my background in action sports, now coming into the rally and with NASCAR, and then with Discount Tire starting to get involved with supercross, it seemed like it was really a good fit. I liked how the company works and how they are into NASCAR, (and) felt like they’d be a good fit for rally car as well.”
In Pastrana’s mind, a program with such a good fit can prosper for years to come. “What I’ve learned is invest, if it’s time or effort or whatever. Invest in people, invest in companies. Don’t necessarily take the short road for money.
“When you have a company that feels like a good fit, work hard for it, and try to do the best you can to support them and they’ll do the best they can to support you. It’s been a short time with Discount Tire, but I really liked who they were, what the company was about, and they think the same. It can be a great partnership for years to come.”
- Chris Leone