Travis Pastrana—the 17-time X Games medalist, Nitro Circus founder, racecar driver and all-around adrenaline junkie—has jumped out of a plane without a parachute, set a world record for launching a rally car over openwater and even bypassed security at the Palms for an off-the-cusp base jump.
So who is the loon out there with bigger balls than him?
Las Vegas’ own Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, who plans on stealing the Nitro Circus Live show June 4 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena when he attempts a double backflip in his wheelchair. At 50 mph. Off a 50-foot ramp.
“He’s amazing,” Pastrana says of the 19-year-old Fotheringham, who was born with spina bifida. “I have no idea how he can pull some of that stuff off.
“The car jump and the base-jump stuff is fun, but you’re pretty sure it’s gonna work out or you wouldn’t do it as obviously the consequences are higher. But he’s literally going 50 mph down a ramp with a fairly standard-issue wheelchair. I had a broken back for a little bit and I could barely wheel one of those things around.”
Fotheringham will participate alongside about 25 action-sports stars during the North American debut of Nitro Circus Live, portions of which will be filmed for the Nitro Circus 3D movie scheduled for 2012.
The crew, which includes several of the staple performers from MTV’s Nitro Circus, such as Jolene Van Vugt, Erik Roner, Andy Bell, “Special Greg,” Jim DeChamp, Jeremy Rawle and Streetbike Tommy, along with all three X Games gold medalists in the Big Air disciplines—Australia’s Jake Brown (skate), American Chad Kagy (BMX) and Australia’s Cam Sinclair (FMX biggest trick)—will be attempting 10 unprecedented stunts.
“Attempts is the key word,” says Pastrana, who when he’s not base jumping off the MGM Grand like he did with Roner on June 1, or racing his buddies on supped-up go karts at Pole Position Raceway, can be found at his favorite Las Vegas restaurant, Nobu inside the Hard Rock Hotel.
“It’s not Cirque du Soleil; not everything is choreographed. Everyone is going to crash at one point or another. When the best guys in the world are throwing tricks that they’ve never thrown before, there’s gonna be some missteps. But that’s what makes it really cool. If people feel good, then they’re going to throw down even bigger tricks than they were expecting to.”
Add in the Las Vegas entertainment element, coupled with Nitro’s American debut, and Pastrana promises the biggest event yet for the spectacle that has already toured New Zealand and Australia.
“As far as shows and entertainment, Vegas is the capital of the world, so we wanted to launch it big and launch it in Vegas, then we can do it anywhere,” he says. “We also found a great group of guys over the years with the filming of Nitro Circus who can do anything on every different contraption. We just really wanted to tour the world and have some fun.
“We went to Australia and New Zealand, and the show did way better than we everexpected and got much better reviews. The promoters wanted to bring it to the U.S., but we said let’s do a one-off first, lets try to do the best show we’ve ever done, have some fun in Vegas and see how it goes.”
Likely no performer will be more pumped than Fotheringham, who set a Guinness world record in 2008 when he became the first person to complete a backflip in a wheelchair.
“I’m already super pumped. I can’t imagine what it will be like Saturday, since this will be the first time any of my family or friends will see me do this in person,” says Fotheringham, who started riding at skate parks around the Valley when he was 8 years old. “I started riding small stuff around Vegas, then the ramp and jumps, and everything became bigger and bigger and now I find myself riding in Nitro Circus. I do think back every once in a while and wonder how I got here—kinda of a crazy ride.”