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Legendary stuntman Travis Pastrana teaches Jay Leno how to overcome fear

Travis Pastrana is one of the few household names from the world of motor sports because the 17-time X Games medalist is good on motorcycles, rally cars and race cars and also because he is a daredevil. In 2011, he jumped out of a plane with no parachute.

Not all of his death-defying stunts run smoothly. He has dislocated his spine, fractured both ankles, both legs, both arms and torn ligaments in his knees. Overall, he has had 32 surgeries to put his body back together.

Yet he keeps coming back for more.

For Pastrana, the thrill is worth the risk, and focusing on the fun helps you overcome the fear. As he tells Jay Leno on Thursday's episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," "The hardest time, I was 14-years-old, shattered my pelvis, broke my back, and my mom was like, 'Are you sure that this is what you want to do for a living?' Even in all that pain, I was like, 'I can't wait to get back on a motorcycle.'"

Travis Pastrana and Jay Leno on CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage"
CNBC
Travis Pastrana and Jay Leno on CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage"

He shares an important characteristic of successful entrepreneurs. Pastrana doesn't let mistakes, or the fear of failing, stop him or stifle his passion. He bounces back from his mistakes.

When the Leno visits the Nitro Circus in San Diego — a touring performance of high-flying action sports that promises, each night, a stunt that has never been done before — Leno asks Pastrana how he can put himself in so much danger knowing that in "any typical show, it could be over."

Pastrana responds, "At the end of the day, you wake up with that passion, the world just drops out."

"You can go as high as you want, as far as you want," he continues, "and when you reach the limit, you find a way to build the ramp bigger and go even higher."

Jay Leno being jumped over at the Nitro Circus rehearsal on CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage"
CNBC
Jay Leno being jumped over at the Nitro Circus rehearsal on CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage"

"He is fearless," marvels Leno. "Or maybe he's just plain crazy."

Pastrana is not really fearless, or at least not when it comes to his loved ones. He admits to worrying about his wife Lyndsey "Lyn-Z" Pastrana, who competes as a professional skateboarder.

But when Leno asks him how he will feel if his daughters Addy, 4, and Bristol, 2, decide to one day do dangerous stunts themselves, the stuntman responds that he wants them to love what they do, too. "If they have half the passion as Lyndsey their mom does for skating or I do for dirt bikes ... I don't care if it's piano, or math or motorcycles."

If the kids share their parents' mindsets, their passion may well take precedence over any concern for safety.

Jay Leno on the landing ramp at the Nitro Circus rehearsal on CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage"
CNBC
Jay Leno on the landing ramp at the Nitro Circus rehearsal on CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage"

During Leno's visit to the Nitro Circus in the episode, Pastrana surprises him by including the late-night legend in his very own, specially designed stunt.

He sets Leno up in front of a live audience in a La-Z-Boy recliner on top of a landing ramp, so that he and his fellow bikers can jump over him. They don't give him any protection, but they do give him a soda. "Why put a $500 helmet on a 10-cent head?" Leno jokes.

The first round of jumps goes smoothly, and Leno asks the crowd if they want to see another. "This is the best seat in the house!" he exclaims.

Pastrana probably disagrees.

CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" airs Thursdays at 10 pm ET.

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