Drag Illustrated Issue 180, January / February 2023 | Page 121

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Travis Pastrana , an action sports global superstar who regularly jumps out of planes and off of buildings for fun , may have met his match when he strapped in to Scott Palmer ’ s Top Fuel dragster for the first time . During a test session after the 2022 NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in September , Pastrana did a burnout and made a series of launches in an attempt not necessarily to earn his license , but to get a feel for the incredible sensory experience that is Top Fuel .
Though Pastrana has competed in NASCAR and rally racing and has done just about everything there is to do on a dirt bike , nothing in his past could ’ ve prepared the Maryland native for Palmer ’ s 11,000-horsepower dragster .
“ I grew up about five minutes from Capitol Raceway ,” Pastrana said in an interview with DI the week before his Top Fuel experience . “ Maryland International Raceway in Budds Creek is just about an hour away from Pastranaland , so I ’ ve been around drag racing a little bit , but nothing even close to this . My dad has a ’ 69 Chevelle – an 11-second car – that I ’ ve made some passes in , and I rode an eight-second bike , but I ’ ve never been over 200 mph in a car .”
The opportunity to drive Palmer ’ s car was coordinated by Alex Laughlin , who drove one of Palmer ’ s cars on a part-time basis for the past season and a half . Along with Palmer and Laughlin , Pastrana ’ s all-star coaching crew included Top Fuel star and fellow action sports aficionado Leah Pruett and her husband , motorsports titan Tony Stewart , who himself made his first runs in a Top Fuel dragster in 2021 . The combination of experience and fresh perspectives helped Pastrana know what to do , but also what he would feel as someone brand-new to this caliber of race car .
“ This isn ’ t necessarily about me becoming a skilled drag racing driver or ultimately competing ,” Pastrana asserted . “ This is me getting to do something I ’ ve always wanted to do , that I ’ ve dreamed of doing . I understand and respect the craft and I ’ m not expecting to have it figured out and perfected on day one , but I do want to be able to say I did it . That ’ s the goal . To drive a Top Fuel dragster .”
Pastrana made two launches in the Top Fuel car during that test session , making huge waves in the motorsports world in the process . He didn ’ t reveal any specific plans to get back in the car , but Palmer is hopeful to continue the process sometime in the future .
“ Everyone was pretty excited at the end of the day . This was something that was so much above and beyond anything I could ’ ve ever imagined ,” Pastrana said . “ It ’ s truly remarkable . I hope to go and watch an event . Thanks to everyone that was involved .” DI
January / February 2023 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 121