X Games champion Travis Pastrana sounded excited yesterday as he contemplated joining Jeff Gordon, NASCAR's four-time Cup champion, on the U.S. team at the 2005 Race of Champions-Nations Cup in Paris next month.
"It's an honor to go represent your country and a bonus to be going with someone like Jeff Gordon," said Pastrana by phone from Texas, where he was scheduled to appear with Gordon yesterday afternoon to talk about the Nations Cup.
"It's a chance to race the best drivers in the world and it kind of places one in a position to measure where you stand."
Pastrana, an Annapolis native and resident, has been an X Games and motorcycle star since winning the 1998 world freestyle championship at age 14. Since then, he has won five X Games titles, including this year's, while competing for the first time in the Rally America National Championship Series as a driver for Subaru.
Pastrana, 22, finished fifth in the Rally series and said he sees car racing as his future.
This will not be the first international competition for either Pastrana or Gordon. Pastrana competed for the U.S. in the Nations Cup event as a motorcycle rider and made it to the finals before losing.
Gordon competed in 2002 as part of Team USA with Nextel Cup teammate Jimmie Johnson -who is in second place in The Chase for the Nextel Cup going into the next-to-last race of the season in Phoenix tomorrow - and MotoGP champion Colin Edwards and won the title.
Approximately 10 countries with drivers from many racing disciplines, including NASCAR, Formula One and World Rally Championships, will compete in this, the 18th annual event, which will be held Dec. 3 at the 70,000-seat Stade de France, the site of the 1998 World Cup soccer final.
Pastrana will compete against dirt track and rally car competitors and is scheduled to perform a two-wheel freestyle exhibition that will include his trademark back flip.