Interesting, but not surprising, news today that X-Game legend, rally car driver and all-around adrenaline junkie Travis Pastrana has committed to becoming one of the five non-IndyCar drivers to accept a seat in the race for the $5 million prize to the driver who can win the season finale in Las Vegas.
You can read about it here.
Good news to have a commitment like Pastrana's, as hopefully more interesting names will begin popping up as the roster becomes finalized over the next few weeks. Should he not make the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, Kasey Kahne looks to be a possibility, and there have been several other drivers who have been linked as possibles for the race.
Pastrana is a great get. He's popular, very media (and social media) friendly, has great sponsorship in Red Bull, and seems like the type of guy that is going to be a good partner with IndyCar in this deal. I think he understands what Randy Bernard is trying to accomplish, and from what I have seen and read about Pastrana, he will do what he can to help promote his participation in the event.
Because let's be honest, Pastrana has no chance to win the race. A couple of hundred laps of practice isn't going to get him on par with guys like Dario Franchitti, Will Power or Tony Kanaan. That's not to say he isn't a great driver. In fact, if he found a team and decided he wanted to stick around for a while, I wouldn't mind.
I think he understands that, and that is a good thing. He's just a guy that likes to do different things and LOVES to compete. He wants to go fast and see how he stacks up against some of the best drivers of the sport. And as he mentioned in the story, if he can't do that, he will park the car. He seems pretty smart too.
It's also important that Red Bull come into this with him as well. They have had no problem hyping some of his ventures (like his world record jump in a rally car a couple of years ago) and if they would be willing to put together a couple of commercial spots in support of him, that would be incredible exposure for the series.
In the end, that's what this is all about. I expect the series to promote the hell out of every driver it chooses, and in return I'm sure there are agreements in place for their sponsors to do the same. I feel like this is the "all-in" race (pun intended) race for Bernard, it is his experiment to find out what this series can be with the proper promotion and exposure. It is a real test to find out where the series can go if all of our "what if" scenarios could come true.
The series took a big step forward with Pastrana's commitment. Where are they going to go with that from here?