- Alyssa Roenigk, ESPN The Magazine senior writer
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Two days after racing in the fifth stop of the Global RallyCross series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Travis Pastrana did something he's been putting off for nearly 10 years: He had surgery to repair the rotator cuff and labrum in his left shoulder. Although he's tallied more than 20 knee surgeries, Pastrana had never addressed his nagging shoulder issues, knowing the recovery time -- six to eight months -- was more than he could take off while he was still riding dirt bikes.
For years, Pastrana was able to tape it well enough to ride or drive. "But it was getting impossible to brace," he said. "There was nothing left of the labrum. My shoulder used to pop out and go right back in. But that wasn't happening anymore. It was popping out and staying out."
Pastrana said his shoulder dislocated a few times during every RallyCross race this season, leading to many of his crashes. During a late model race in Michigan in July, his car lost power steering and his shoulder dislocated, making steering virtually impossible. At the Charlotte K&N Pro Series race, it dislocated the first time he took his left hand off the steering wheel.
"It became dangerous, and I didn't want to take any more chances with me or anyone else on the track," Pastrana said. So he scheduled surgery for the week after what was supposed to be the final round of the GRC series, on Sept. 29. Then, when the Oct. 30 race was added to the schedule, he had to make a decision: postpone the surgery or stick to his original plan and skip the final race of the series.
"I would have waited, but this surgery has a four-month recovery period before I can even think about testing and taking a direct hit in certain directions," Pastrana said. "I wanted to be back in the car and solid for Daytona. The NASCAR season is my priority, so I didn't want to wait any longer."
The surgery, Pastrana said, went well, and he expects to start rehab at the beginning of 2013.
"The hardest part about shoulder rehab is not rehabbing," he said. "Right now, I'm intentionally losing some motion in my shoulder, so it locks down tight and doesn't come out as much. In a few months, I'll start strength training."
The day before surgery, Pastrana invited BMX riders Dave Mirra, Steve McCann and Dusty Wygle to his place in Davidsonville, Md., for a day of riding. It was the first time he hit jumps on a BMX bike and "really ride moto" since crashing at the 2011 X Games, and video of him attempting a BMX double backflip 360 hit the Internet a few days later.
Sept. 27 was also the last day to qualify for the 2012 Big Buck Hunter Championships, which Pastrana qualified for once again. The event is Nov. 9-10 in New York City, and Pastrana said he may compete if his doctor OKs it and he is able to rig up a brace. However, he'll have to shoot left-handed.
A week after the surgery, Pastrana celebrated his 29th birthday. He is currently in Europe for a week of press promoting the upcoming Nitro Circus Live tour.
Although Pastrana will attend the final stop of the GRC on Oct. 30 in Las Vegas, he will not drive. Instead, Bryce Menzies, the 2011 SCORE Trophy Truck and 2012 Baja 500 champion who made his RallyCross debut at X Games Los Angeles, will take his seat. "I'll be there working to help get Bryce as comfortable as possible," said Pastrana, who also will use his time off to rehab his right ankle and foot, which have still not healed completely since his crash at the 2011 X Games.
All of this is in preparation for the 2013 Nationwide Series, which Pastrana said is his No. 1 priority. "Nothing is concrete yet, and nothing is signed, but it looks really good that I'll be doing the entire Nationwide series next year," Pastrana said. "I'm excited. I need the experience. Every track I've gone to, I've been better when I've gone back. And I'm excited to work with a team that has a lot of data and knowledge. That's going to help me a lot. Then we'll see how I do."
Travis Pastrana finally addressed his nagging shoulder problem, but the surgery will cause him to miss the Global RallyCross finale Oct. 30.