Nitro Circus Live didn’t have any trapeze artists or clowns, but it was filled with two hours of death-defying stunts and non-stop action.
For those unfamiliar with this unique breed of entertainment, Nitro Circus Live is an “action sports collective.” Acclaimed motocross performer and all-around-stuntman Travis Pastrana began the traveling spectacle in 2012. Pastrana is the “ringleader” of the event and he leads his crew of motocross/stunt performers through the various festivities.
The suspense for this one-of-a-kind, adrenaline-fueled show began building Thursday.
Red Bull offered the chance for any UNLV student to win two tickets to Nitro Circus Live and a goodie bag of prizes. Six competitors raced Fisher-Price big-wheels from the Student Services Building to the North Field. It was quite the spectacle to see six college students ride toy bikes that they outgrew about 17 years ago.
UNLV student Seth Tanner proved to be victorious and was ecstatic to be attending Nitro Circus Live.
“I’m super stoked to be going Saturday night,” said Tanner. “If I wasn’t the shortest man in the race, I don’t know if I would have won. It definitely helped.”
The MGM Grand Garden Arena played the unlikely host to Nitro Circus Live. Big name artists, huge boxing contests and national award shows usually fit the bill, but for one night the Grand Garden Arena went to new extremes.
Nitro Circus Live definitely drew a crowd. It was a massive sell-out with many anxious motorsports fans lined up for hours beforehand to be among the first inside the arena.
The event started promptly at 7:30 p.m., and it went off without a hitch.
The show started off with the Nitro Circus crew being introduced around the arena. They appeared in the aisles and at the top of ramps. It fired up the crowd with anticipation of where the next performer would show up.
Pastrana made his first appearance at the beginning of the show on a quad, but refrained from performing any stunts throughout the night. Being the 30-years-old and having suffered more debilitating stunt accidents than any human ever should, his inactivity was not a huge shock.
There were enough heart-stopping stunts and tricks to cheer up the most disappointed Pastrana fan.
Nitro Circus Live MC’s Bruce Robson and Andy Zeiss did an excellent job of riling the crowd up with their incessant introductions of different performers and commentary during stunts.
The FMX (Freestyle Motocross) was featured next and it set the chaotic tone for the evening. They performed backflips, supermans, rulers and several more death-defying tricks.
A lucky (or doomed) audience member received the chance to be a part of the event. The person had to be of short stature and 18 or older to sign a safety waiver.
While the search for an audience member fulfilling that criterion commenced, the “Giganta” section of the event was showcased. The “Giganta” contraptions were one of the most exciting of the night, and with an event like Nitro Circus, that is saying something.
Everything, including the kitchen sink, was jumped. A Lazyboy recliner, a rocking horse on wheels, a bathtub, wheelbarrow and a 1920s-style bicycle were among some of the contraptions used during this segment. A pink Barbie car was also jumped and landed safely.
The toy car did not make the ramp the last time the jump was performed in Vegas and the stunt ended rather painfully.
The elements of danger and spontaneity were present. The Nitro Circus MC’s showed clips from past events where stunts went horribly wrong.
An audience member willing to participate in the event was found after the “Giganta” jumps. The young man piggybacked on one of the Nitro Circus dirt bike riders as he performed a backflip. Of course, this stunt too had gone awry in the past, but thankfully the dirt bike rider landed the trick.
World records were also established Saturday night inside the MGM Grand. Jolene Van Vugt became the first ever female to backflip in Las Vegas. She accomplished this feat on a 450cc dirt bike.
Las Vegas’ very own Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham was present for the event. He is known for performing stunts and tricks on his wheelchair. Fotheringham suffers from spina bifida, which has left him bound to a wheelchair permanently. He showcased his unwavering talent to his hometown crowd and brought tears to family members in attendance. It was an uplifting and empowering moment for all watching.
Nitro Circus Live brought the suspense and thrills to Las Vegas, and left many fans satisfied.
“For fans of motor sports there is nothing better than Nitro Circus,” said Cameron Utter. “I’ve been to every event they’ve held in town and I plan on continuing this tradition for as long as possible.”