Friday, November 12, 2010

The Nitro Circus Comes To Town

It certainly is interesting to watch a series written off as almost dead roar back to life. The Nationwide Series is now a playground for Sprint Cup Series stars who either want to have some fun on a Saturday or support a team in which they have a financial stake. Either way, the result is often horrible racing.

The Nationwide Series gets a fresh start next season with new cars and that has prompted several high profile types to step-up and play. Along with the continuing education of Danica Patrick and the new mega-team of Turner Motorsports, we heard Thursday that extreme sports star and Nitro Circus veteran Travis Pastrana is coming to NASCAR.

Pastrana, pictured above, may not be well-know to some NASCAR fans but it's a sure bet he is known to their children. This young man has blazed a trail through sports outside of the mainstream but strongly embraced by teens. Pastrana is someone who connects with young TV viewers in ways NASCAR can only dream about doing right now.

Add to this equation the fact that Michael Waltrip is probably the perfect owner for Pastrana and it all makes a lot of sense. The quirky Waltrip and the over-the-top Pastrana can bring some much needed national media focus to the Nationwide Series in a flash.

Even at the ripe old age of 27, Pastrana has a fan base that is global and a wonderfully crafted public relations and marketing image. This man is no fool and nothing happens in his life without a detailed sponsorship plan to go along with the project.

Pastrana's father Robert will also bring his personality to the table in the family sport of NASCAR. The elder Pastrana is a native Puerto Rican and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. The cross-over appeal of Travis in so many ways is simply huge.

NASCAR TV is going to love Pastrana because he is the polar opposite of Danica Patrick. Rather than speaking in carefully scripted interviews and supervised media availabilities, Pastrana is an enthusiastic shoot from the hip guy who loves every camera that turns his way.

Even though Pastrana is only doing seven races in 2011, his plans are for 20 races in 2012 with an eye on eventually becoming a full time NASCAR driver. There is little doubt that Pastrana has his eye on the prize and that prize is ultimately the Sprint Cup Series. His owner has a little experience in that world.

For those of you wondering if Pastrana can drive something with four wheels on pavement, click here. This is the type of offbeat and interesting project that Pastrana has done for sponsors like Subaru and Red Bull. These videos spread the news to YouTube users globally of both brand identification and extreme sports.

Click here for a peek at the new Pastrana Waltrip Racing website that includes links to Facebook and Twitter for information on this project. It certainly sounds buttoned up and brings with it just the kind of new blood that the Nationwide Series and the sport in general certainly needs.

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Roland said...!!!!!!!!! Ive been waiting on this for a long time! Hopefully nascar will let him run the 199

Anonymous said...

I've been a fan of his for years. So, I welcome Mr. 199 and I think he'll be a breath of fresh air for NASCAR.

He always seems to be so passionate and enthusiastic about every thing he does. I don't see that being any different with NASCAR.

It's a shame that he's only doing 7 races next year but I understand it.

Isaiah said...

JD, this is pure genius. Pastrana is an amazing driver and he would give Kyle Busch a run for his money when it comes to edge of your seat excitement. I wonder how he will be able to do things when it comes to his sponsor Red Bull? Will he join the Red Bull racing team in 2012 when Kasey Kahne is gone? Hmm... interesting indeed. His Nitro Circus show is outstanding and he will mix well with the fans. This is what the sport needs. He will be a blast to watch on the road courses for sure.

bevo said...

Interesting that not one person in the NASCAR media has pointed out the obvious in this announcement - Pastrana bought a ride. Not a knock on him at all but when the inevitable cry goes up in the media about young drivers working their way up and nobody taking a chance on them unless they bring a big-time sponsor just remember that some of them buy their rides.

Best of luck to him. I just hope he doesn't let Waltrip ruin his image.

terri said...

He'll be in more trouble than Kyle Busch!

He'll get ole BZF up off his duff, I hope.

More power to him and let him do it his way, Nascar!

MRM4 said...

The best line I read yesterday when this was announced was from somebody saying "now Danica has somebody to race with." While I find that funny, I believe this guy has a better chance of making than Danica does.

allisong said...

Appreciate your optimism, JD, but didn't we hear this before with Ricky Carmichael? He was supposed to bring this big influx of fans from his 2-wheel days, and unless I'm mistaken, I just don't see it. And with only 7 races next year, any positive uptick in ratings or attendance is going to be quickly eroded as he will go several weeks (months?) between races.

AncientRacer said...

There is nothing but good in this. Talent, personality and a young male fan base. Was it not David Hill who said that NASCAR has lost the young male fan base and needs to get it back? Pastrana has a far better chance to do that than Danica. The kids may want Danica but they want to be Pastrana.

So, things to do today:

1. Reserve
2.Get the concession for overalls reading "No Right Turn" and "199"
3. Develop a line of souvenirs featuring a pair of sneakers tied together by the laces (everything from headphones to tie tacks)
4. Call Jackie Chan's office and see if he will be honorary crew chief and sit on the box.

...and boom goes the dynamite!

As an aside, JD, it seems to sit well with you. I mean you upgraded Mikey from annoying to merely "quirky" in your column today.

Anonymous said...

I'm excited! I can't wait to see how he does.

@Isaiah--what I read Red Bull will still be his personal sponsor but no plans of them being any other sponsor team wise. But of course things can change later on :).

GinaV24 said...

Interesting! I know the name but don't know that much about him, but he sounds like someone who will be fun to watch.

Hope he does well.

AncientRacer said...

Well, if Gymmie and GinaV24 are on board we have something. Jus' sayin'

BTW TruckBuddy is 'sposed to be on tonight. NASCAR told me so.

Vince said...

Never heard of him. Showing my age I guess.... ;-)

Anonymous said...

This will be great. Love watching Travis race, and he has a great personality. Wish he could run the last 2 races this year.

diane said...

I'm a big Supercross fan so I'm certainly familiar with Travis. X-games doesn't do it for me, but that's another issue.

The thing is, that other than a short term bump, "lets see what Travis is doing in Nascar", I don't expect too much change. I can't see the X-game fans coming in droves and converting to Nascar fans. People may support Travis and buy his Nascar gear but I don't think it will translate to long term butts in the seats or eyeballs on the TV.

Almost every X-games event is very short. A jump, or a few runs on the skateboard/snowboard ramp. Its very different to watch a 4 hour event like so many Nascar races turn out to be.

Palmetto said...

I'm with Vince. Never heard of him or 'Nitro Circus' before today, and not interested enough to Google either. Wake me up when he's got a couple of lead lap finishes; even Danica hasn't managed that yet.

Sophia said...

Im with Vince & palmetto. not a clue

Anonymous said...

It would be fun to watch for a bit, but I don't envision it doing anything in terms of more Nascar fans, anymore than Jeremy McGrath or Ricky Carmichael brought to the sport.
Think about it. Died in the wool Nascar fans and X-gamers are like oil and water.
I'm no kid, but I enjoy watching some of the X-games events.
I just don't see these 2 groups melding into a fan base. I wish Travis luck. He is talented no doubt. MWR, not so much. I'm not sure what MW's agenda is, but it's all over the place.
Could you imagine the camp ground at Dega? Might be worth camping a couple days if the on track action is "less than desirable."

Donna DeBoer said...

I've got no problem with Pastrana or anyone else wanting to test their mettle in NASCAR. What I really like is that Waltrip has him taking the longterm learner's approach rather than just letting him straight in sink or swim (er... Danica) Whether he can successfully convert to this type of racing or not, we'll have a better idea in a couple years. (See all predecessors). My only request is media please spare us Circus Sideshow Part 2.

Ditto about Ricky Carmichael, who I've liked for many years, far as I can tell his non-NASCAR fans DIDN'T follow him over here.