Travis Pastrana returns to motocross racing today at Red Bull Straight Rhythm

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With all that action sports icon Travis Pastrana has accomplished throughout his well-rounded career, it’s easy to forget that he was a national motocross champion 14 years ago.

Pastrana has since retired from motocross racing to focus on other passions. He has long been one of the most progressive riders in freestyle motocross but has also carved out a successful career in rallycross and even attempted a recent foray into NASCAR. This afternoon, he’ll be back on a bike for a brand-new event that will put him head-to-head with some of the top motocross riders in the sport today.

Red Bull Straight Rhythm is like a supercross track without any of the turns – or as the event organizers like to say, it’s “supercross unwound.” The course is a half-mile straightaway of rhythm sections, jumps, whoops and sand sections built on top of a drag strip track in Southern California. Although Red Bull held a test event last year, this will be the first time that it’s ever been done as a full-fledged competition.

Seeking an edge, Pastrana has loaded his #199 Suzuki up on horsepower. Whereas most of his competitors in the open class will be riding a 450cc four-stroke bike, he is mounted on a 500cc two-stroke. It’s a bike so powerful that Pastrana has dubbed it the “RM-Zilla.” (Suzuki’s 450cc bike is named the RM-Z450.)

Despite all the added horsepower, even Pastrana was not immune to the challenging nature of the course. “If you don’t get the first jump, you’re running a completely different rhythm all the way down the entire track than everyone else, which is awesome,” he said. “That’s exactly what it’s supposed to be. It’s basically like a tic-tac-toe puzzle.”

Out of 16 riders in the open class, Pastrana qualified eighth in Friday’s practice session, putting him head-to-head with Josh Hansen in the opening round of today’s competition, which utilizes a best-of-three bracket format to decide a winner. Should Pastrana defeat the ninth-seeded Hansen, he would be on a collision course with James Stewart – the fastest rider in qualifying and the overwhelming event favorite – in the quarterfinals.

It’s a tough task, but Pastrana has made a career out of defying the odds.

To see how Pastrana fares in his return to racing, watch Red Bull Straight Rhythm live online starting at 5:30 p.m. ET today on RedBull.tv.

NBC will also air television coverage of the event on December 20.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.