Nothing is ever fast enough for Travis Pastrana. That includes his previous record time up Mt. Washington of 5:44.72, which he set at the 2017 Climb to the Clouds event. After shooting the Gymkhana 2021 viral video with a custom-built, no-holds-barred, 862 horsepower Subaru WRX STI, he knew he could improve on that time with this car. That’s exactly what he did, setting a new record of 5:28.67 on his first official run up the mountain.
Some people claimed that then-teammate and previous record holder David Higgins was the faster driver. Pastrana himself agreed, as well as the data, as Higgins’ split times were faster than Pastrana’s. Some say Pastrana only got the record because Higgins crashed out on the turn at Cragway. This time, Pastrana proved he has what it takes on his own.
Of course, having the Airslayer STI at his disposal helped. This car was built specifically for Gymkhana 2021 to be the most awesome STI ever, and to no racing class rules whatsoever. It sounded like an angry bumblebee streaking up the mountain. Don’t blink, or you’ll miss Pastrana going by.
Absolutely perfect weather conditions all the way up and down Mt. Washington helped, too. While it rained during Saturday practice and clouds enveloped the top (where I was) during the lunch break between runs, it was dry with clear visibility from bottom to top when it mattered.
Pastrana’s second run was actually slower than his first, 5:41.71. Though it still broke his 2017 record, his faster first run was the one that counted. My theory is that since the new record was already in the books, Travis drove a little harder on his second run. From what I saw 1/4 mile from the finish, his first run was smooth and controlled, while he bobbed and weaved a bit more on his second run. That’s certainly more like his regular driving style, but ironically it was emulating the calm and clean Higgins that made him faster. Travis openly credits Higgins for teaching him most of what he knows about rally driving during their time together at what is now Subaru Motorsports USA.
My question is, what now? The massive effort that Pastrana and Subaru Motorsports USA put in broke the record, but only shaved 13 seconds off his previous time. There can’t be much more time he can drop at this point. More power is great for the straightaways, but there’s only so much grip you can get for the nearly constant turns. The Airslayer STI has massive aero enhancements, but even their usefulness is limited in the tighter corners that require slower speeds. We’ll have to wait and see what other tricks Travis and Subaru Motorsports USA have up their sleeves to pull out at the next one.