The Fast Times

The Flashback: Ricky Carmichael and Travis Pastrana Banging ‘Bars in ’94

Ricky Carmichael
Even in 1994, a decade before both had reached the zenith of their superstardom, Ricky Carmichael and Travis Pastrana were going at it on the track.

Sure, it wasn’t the first time the two had battled each other – and it definitely wasn’t the last – but this might be the earliest footage you’ll see of Ricky Carmichael and Travis Pastrana going at it on the track. The raw footage, letting you hear the ring-a-ding-ding of the small-bore two-strokes, was shot by Gary Bailey – yes, that Gary Bailey, also known as “The Professor” – at Gatorback Cycle Park in Gainesville, Florida.

A vision of the future that is now the past

For those of a certain age, the gear, rides and riders will be familiar by those who watched Carmichael and Pastrana in Fox Racing’s Terrafirma. But, this time ’round, the kids are most definitely off the couch – and out the gate. The technique wasn’t perfect, but neither is yours, remember? At the time, both were still at school, but were the fastest amateurs in motocross – right ’round the world – with James “Bubba” Stewart taking up the slack in the class below on his Kawasaki KX60. That’s a 60, too, not a 65. It was the same for the Kawasaki KX80 – a small wheel for Carmichael at the time – and Suzuki RM80 for Pastrana, as both brands were still the better part of a decade away from adding those extra cubes.

Less than a decade later, the battles between the two took place in the pro ranks, in the stadiums and in the hills. By that point, Carmichael had established himself as the guy to beat in the premier class – or, you know, any class – with only a few competitors in that era to be of any real competition. While Pastrana never actually won a 250cc Main Event, outdoors or indoors, he was still one of the few to be able to bang ‘bars with the “Greatest of All Time”. For Carmichael, the real competition came in the form of the kid a class down in their amateur days, the one and only “Bubba” Stewart. But that’s a story for another time.

While Carmichael went on to become the GOAT, Pastrana went on to superstardom, too. In fact, Pastrana might well be the most famous motorcyclist, ever, outside of Evel Knievel.

Main Photo: Fox Racing | Courtesy of Tony Blazier