Motocross star Pastrana four wheel transition at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2003 -- Travis Pastrana has become a worldwide motocross superstar by being spectacular. This is the guy who jumped his motorcycle into San Francisco Bay during freestyle motocross competition at the 1999 X Games.

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2003 -- Travis Pastrana has become a worldwide motocross superstar by being spectacular.

This is the guy who jumped his motorcycle into San Francisco Bay during freestyle motocross competition at the 1999 X Games. This is the guy who did a back flip into the Grand Canyon on his motorcycle for an extreme sports video. This is the guy who also used his wild, fast style to win two AMA motocross season titles.

This also is the guy who knows that he'll need a different technique to succeed during his first races on four wheels, the Porsche Michelin Supercup sports-car races Sept. 27-28 during the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Pastrana, 19, from Annapolis, Md., has tested many rally cars, including a World Rally Championship Subaru in Great Britain, and owns a powerful shifter kart that he drives almost daily. And he's learned quickly that motocross techniques don't carry over very well to four wheels.

"My biggest problem is that I'm always overdriving the car," Pastrana said. "What I haven't figured out is that sliding feels fast, but it's not. I usually have a lot of oversteer, sliding the car around the corner. It feels like, 'Man, I'm really moving now!' But I'm not."

That's a strange feeling for Pastrana. He's among the fastest off-road riders in the world, with a resume to prove it.

Pastrana won the AMA Eastern Region Supercross title in 2001 with five victories in seven races and also recorded three podium finishes in the 250cc AMA Supercross series in 2002 with Team SoBe Suzuki before being sidelined by surgery. He turned professional in 2000 and won the AMA Chevy Trucks 125cc motocross championship with five victories.

Pastrana also won gold medals in the freestyle motocross competition at the Gravity Games in 1999, 2001 and 2002 and in the X Games in 1999, 2000 and 2001. As an amateur, Pastrana won the AMA national motocross championship in the 125cc and 250cc classes in 1999.

But numerous injuries suffered in motocross and a desire to expand his racing horizons caused Pastrana to jump at the chance to race at Indianapolis in the Porsche Michelin Supercup, the world's fastest single-marque international sports car series. He isn't ready to quit motocross, but he is keeping an eye on his future options.

Few motocross riders race at an elite level into their 30s, something else that isn't lost on Pastrana. Motocross legend Jeremy McGrath retired after last season at 31. Seven-time AMA motocross champion Jeff Ward retired at 31 in 1992 and moved on to a successful career in open-wheel racing, including being named 1997 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year.

Ward isn't the only rider who made a successful transition from two to four wheels. Englishman John Surtees won a world motorcycle title in the 1950s and the Formula One World Championship in 1964 for Ferrari.

"I've been showing a lot of interest in cars and trying to get involved in cars," Pastrana said. "I love to race. I love motocross. At 30, you are a dinosaur in motocross, but I can't imagine life without racing.

"Right now, I'm trying everything out. I just love racing."

Pastrana will race the No. 1 Porsche 911 GT3 car fielded by the Porsche AG team on the 2.605-mile road course at Indianapolis. It may be his first car race, but it's not his first time at the track. He said he has visited the track before and even taken the track tour, including a trip around the 2.5-mile oval in the Hall of Fame Museum tour bus.

"Man, I am so excited," Pastrana said. "This is going to be awesome."

Pastrana has no illusions of winning against the top drivers of the Porsche Michelin Supercup, who will race for the title in the last two races of their season at Indianapolis. But he does expect the entire experience to be spectacular, even if he doesn't slide the car sideways through all 13 turns of every lap.

"I would love to do well," Pastrana said. "As long as I'm not heading up "the rear of the field, I'll be happy. These guys are very, very capable "drivers. And to drive at Indianapolis -- it isn't too much better than "that."

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Saturday schedule changes: Minor changes have been made to the Formula One schedule for the United States Grand Prix on Saturday, Sept. 27 to better accommodate worldwide television viewers.

Formula One free practice sessions will take place from 8-8:45 a.m. and 9:15-10 a.m. Saturday, one hour earlier than previously scheduled. The qualifying warm-up will take place from 12:30-12:45 p.m., with the second, single-lap qualifying session from 1-2 p.m., both sessions one hour earlier than previously scheduled.

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Tickets: Tickets for the United States Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

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Series General
Drivers Jeff Ward , Travis Pastrana , Jeremy McGrath , John Surtees