Speculation around Travis Pastrana's intention to race in Sunday's X Games RallyCross continued this morning when he was seen practicing in his newly modified, hand-controlled Subaru. According to event officials, X Games medical cleared Pastrana to practice and would re-evaluate him following his laps to determine if he could be cleared to compete. During practice, Pastrana successfully completed four laps on the course, as well as the 70-foot jump competitors are required to clear.
On Thursday night, Travis Pastrana broke his right leg and ankle, and his much-vaunted "Pastranathon" -- three X Games events sandwiching his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut -- was called off.
Pastrana's first attempt to drive after the accident was during Saturday morning's Rally Car Racing practice session, after which he went back to the pits to debrief with his crew, which worked all afternoon Friday and into the night to set up hand controls on his Subaru rally car.
"We've never done anything like this before," Chris Yandell, Team Subaru's media relations manager, said.
Pastrana's steering wheel features accelerator controls on both sides. Pastrana said he is still trying to figure out if he wants to shift with his left or right hand.
"We're off the pace right now for sure," he told ESPN. "It's like playing a new video game with all new buttons."
Pastrana was scheduled to compete in Moto X Freestyle Friday, fly to Indianapolis to qualify and race in his Nationwide Series debut, then return to Los Angeles and compete in RallyCross Sunday.
During his brief practice session, Pastrana was slow and appeared a bit disoriented as he tried to quickly learn an entirely new method of controlling his car. He also dropped his steering wheel on his broken foot upon leaving his vehicle after practice.
On his Twitter feed, Pastrana posted: "The guys made me hand controls & I'm about to test them to see if I can't still rally at @XGames!"
On Saturday evening, Pastrana secured testing time on his own, enlisting the LAPD. He tweeted: "At the police academy, where the LAPD was nice enough to let me practice with the hand controls at their road course."
Yandell confirmed they were at the LAPD test track, near Dodger Stadium, testing for two hours to see if Pastrana could get accustomed to the hand controls.
"I think it's incredible," Tanner Foust, defending Rally Car Racing and RallyCross gold medalist, said. "I watched him crash Thursday and saw his leg broken right there. The fact that he's out here is inspiring. He'll be competitive and I'm comfortable being on the track with him ... but I think he should practice with the rest of us."
When Pastrana exited the car after practice, he was greeted by a pair of crutches; his orthopedic surgeon; his agent, fiancée, trainer and handlers, and ESPN Medical's Dr. David Chao, and whisked into his motor home to elevate his injured leg.
According to his trainer, Todd Jacobs, Pastrana has "longitudinal impact breaks" in his leg, suffered from his failed "TP Roll" 720 attempt in Moto X Best Trick.
His doctors told him his foot should not be below his heart for more than 30 minutes at a time as he risks a significant increase in pain and swelling.
Fellow Rally competitor (and 2010 X Rally silver medalist) Brian Deegan looks forward to seeing Pastrana on the starting line, "He's got guts to even come back here. People are asking, 'Why did he do that, why does he do this -- he does it because that's who he is. He makes the rules. Travis built this thing, and heroes deserve some respect. If he needs special treatment and wants to race, let him race. We've been battling since '99 and I want him to race. I want to beat him."
On Tuesday, Pastrana will fly home to have surgery to insert pins and plates into his ankle, leg and hand, which he injured on his final day of practice in Maryland last week.