In a whirlwind of extreme stunt action, the Nitro Circus Crew crashed into the UK for three sold out shows in London, Manchester and Birmingham as part of the European leg of their punishing global tour. With such a massive event, the Moto team were first in line for the tickets, attending both the first show at the O2, the Manchester MEN Arena and the final show at the NIA, and were quite literally astounded at what went down. So without further introduction, here are the top ten pointers to sum up the show.
1. Take My Breath Away. As soon as you enter the Arena, it’s evident that for all the knock about fun image that Nitro enjoys, this is a very serious and slick operation. The performance area is immaculately laid out, fantastically lit and beautifully presented, and the presenters were loud, excitable and enthusiastic. In comparison to the other freestyle shows that have gone before, this is on another level. If the competition is supermarket lager, Nitro Circus is Export Strength Stella.
2. Honey I Grew the Ramp. If you have only seen the show on video, it’s difficult to quantify just how big the Giganta-ramp is. Standing at nearly four stories high, the wonderfully smooth plywood ramp towers against the back wall of the venue, with nothing more complicated than a set up step up the side to get the athletes to the top. Only gravity and insanity powers the guys on this bit of equipment and Giganta hurls them down towards the ramp without mercy.
3. Smell like Team Spirit. From the moment the show starts, it’s evident just what a tight knit and close crew the Nitro Circus Crew really are. Drawn from the best of a host of extreme sports, Ring Master Travis Pastrana has brought together a diverse team that supports each other like a massive if weird family and you can see that they genuinely love being part of the show and appreciate each other’s talents. Travis could be seen handing out the high fives for success and consolation for failure throughout the show.
4. Two Tribes Go to War. In a typical pantomime style, various parts of the show were split to pitch one side against the other – UK versus USA, FMX versus non-motorised – it was all good fun and the packed out crowd was loving it. The big tricks had everyone on their feet and you’d have to be a very sour person to dislike this show.
5. BMX Bandits. The guys on the bikes were pulling out all the stops, throwing an insane variety of flips, spins, body varials and a fair selection of tricks so complicated that they don’t yet have names. Triple forward flips – no problem, transfer from BMX to Skateboard – easy. Some of the guys on the Nitro tour are the only ones pulling these tricks in the world – respect is due. If you’ve got a BMX in the shed, imagine rolling that sucker off the top Hawkstone hill….
6. Contraption Action. Also on the big ramps, Travis’ bands of merry fools include guys who are happy to throw themselves on literally anything. In no particular order we had – skateboard, shopping trolley, drinks cooler, Barbie Car, pretend snowmobile, tricycle, twin seat tricycle, skis with wheels, inline skates , micro scooter, twin micro scooter, boogie board with wheels. If they could have found a Penny Farthing, somebody would have had a go. Crazy Bonkers.
7. Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene. The talented Ms Van Vugt is undoubtedly the gnarliest girlie on the planet, as happy to pilot the Barbie car down the Giganta ramp as to nail the back flip on her FMX bike. After smashing herself up on the self-same trick, spinning the dirt bike upside down for a perfect landing took some bottle, and Jolene stepped up to the plate. Go Girl.
8. FMX Heaven. OK so all this un powered shizzle was only half the show, but what the Moto crew really wanted to see was the likes of Cam Sinclair, Bilko, Thomas Pages and the crew throwing some shapes in the air over the ramps. And we were not disappointed; the FMX boys were hotter than Cairoli’s header pipe, smashing huge tricks upside down and right side up all night. All manufacturers were represented on the machinery front; from the punchy four strokes of Honda and Kawasaki, the old skool classic YZ250s or the latest SX250s from KTM – nice. Pages was on fire throwing massive whips and killing the competition – rider of the night without a doubt.
9. Three Way Action. Ok in what must be a liability lawyer’s nightmare, the most incredible part of the show is when Travis picks two members of the audience to take part in the action. Returning to the Arena kited out in full Fox gear, the guys were sat on a specially modified Yamaha with extra foot pegs and bars, and set off with Cam Sinclair at the controls to perform a back flip. That’s right, three up, no rehearsal, no training, no safety net, no foam pit, and no fear! Hats off to both the volunteers and Cam – fantastic showmanship all round. And they got to keep the kit – double bonus.
10. The King of Cool. All this show would not be possible with the likeable genius that is Travis Pastrana. OK so there are show producers, technicians, road crew, medics, truck drivers and all kinds of people that make Nitro Circus work, none of it would be there without Pastrana’s mercurial talent and abilities to engage the public in his particular brand of wonderful foolishness. The Nitro Circus tour is the culmination of his efforts and the man should be justifiably proud of his creation – it rocked more than Erzberg.
So that’s it for the Nitro tour this year – a top night out all round. And if you missed it, don’t worry – the guys announced dates for the 2013 tour – book your tickets now guys……
Words by Julian Challis
Images by Ray Chuss