As an 11-time X Games gold medalist, Travis Pastrana has competed in plenty of impressive venues. And the action sports star was pretty sure he’d seen just about everything.
That was before he got his first look at Bristol Motor Speedway Monday morning.
“Oh man, this place is just… spectacular,” said Pastrana who was testing for the K&N Pro Series East season-opener at BMS March 17. “I’ve seen it on TV but that doesn’t give you the real feel. The banking itself is hard to believe but it’s the way the seats are – so many of them all around the stadium.
“It’s just awesome. It really is like a modern-day coliseum where gladiators fight. I’m not used to the banking… it’s a little like a vertical ramp. It’s going to be a challenge. This is a tough place for my first race this year — but I can’t wait to get back here for the race.”
Pastrana was one of 31 drivers who took part in the day-long test, along with Chase Elliott, Darrell Wallace Jr., Sergio Pena, and Nelson Piquet.
Matt Crafton, who pilots a Camping World Truck, took Pastrana’s ride out first before the 28-year-old got behind the wheel for the initial time.
“It was good, really fast,” said Pastrana. “In the car, you can’t see the exit point of the turn. I just about lost it on the second lap. I’ve raced a few circle tracks, but nothing like this.
“Right now, the car goes faster than I can go.”
Like Pastrana, the 18-year-old Pena had never seen the World’s Fastest Half-Mile in person. His team encouraged him to try the oval out on foot first, a challenge he accepted.
“When I got here and saw this banking I was pretty amazed,” said the Radford University freshman. “They told me I should sprint up the banking. And I did and when I got to the top I almost fell down. I couldn’t believe it. And in the car… there’s just nothing like it. The G-forces are crazy on your neck. I really can’t wait to get back here for the race.”
Wallace Jr., who last raced at BMS in 2009, won three of the 12 K&N races he competed in a year ago. Like Pastrana and Pena, the March 17 event on the half-mile oval can’t get here soon enough for him.
“It’s all driver here,” aid the 18-year-old. “You have to manhandle the car and really get up on the wheel.
Elliott, son of 1988 NASCAR Cup champion Bill Elliott, has raced at BMS before and is looking forward to the March 17 event.
“I wish it (the race) was tomorrow,” said the 16-year-old. “It is just phenomenal for fans to see a race here and Saturday at Bristol is going to be great. This will be a tough race but hopefully we’ll put on a good show.”