When all is said and done, 2018 will likely go down as the most important year of Aaron Plessinger’s life. Over the past nine months, the Ohio racer has gotten engaged, seen the birth of his first child, nabbed two professional championships in Supercross and motocross, earned a factory ride for the next two years with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing, and has the 250cc spot for Team USA at the Motocross of Nations. It’s a lot to take in but nothing seems to faze AP23. Just as the summer’s 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship season came to a close, we spent a few minutes recapping the career-defining year with Plessinger.
You told me that you found out that you were going to be on the team in July.
Yeah, I found out at RedBud that I was going to be at RedBud again [Laughs]. When they asked me, I kind of went blank and didn't know what to say. I freaked out a little bit and it's a dream come true to represent the country in your country. It's what I've been dreaming about since I was 14 or 15 years old and that it's actually happening, I'm kind of speechless about it.
There are a lot of people that dream about representing at the Motocross of Nations, but there are other guys that don't have the same level of excitement. It's cool to see someone like you that wants to be there, regardless of the pressure that goes with it.
It's not a guaranteed thing that you will do it every year and something could happen that makes this my only chance. I'm pumped to do it. Just to be dressing up in red, white, and blue and supporting the country is what I've done every day of my life [Laughs].
Did you go to the races at Colorado or Budds Creek?
I wasn't really a moto kid at that point. I watched it with my dad, but I didn't get an interest in it that much. I just thought it looked sick with the graphics and the gear. Now it's a totally different thing and I'm excited knowing what is going on.
By now you have seen the photos and videos of what goes on at des Nations. What are you most excited to see?
I know there will be a big party atmosphere, just because it's at RedBud and camping is sold out. It'll be wild. I think I'm most excited to see what the fans bring to the side of the track and it'll be shoulder to shoulder. No one will be able to move and they'll probably break down the fence. I wouldn't put it past RedBud.
Are you camping at the track?
Yeah, I'm going to have my camper there.
Despite the fact that you are young in your career, it looks like you have a big international following. Have you had a lot of fans reach out to you already?
Yeah, I've had a few European fans but mostly I get hit up by guys from Australia. I looked at it a while back and obviously the United States is first on the list, but my second biggest following is from Australia. I like Australia, even though I've never been there. Everyone I have met from there or New Zealand has been rad.
Have you worked with Thor or apdesigns on special things?
I haven't seen or heard anything, but in past years they have done wonders with the gear. I'm sure Parts Unlimited will have Thor and Alpinestars match pretty good and Bell and apdesigns always kills it with helmets. 100% has some goggles that will come out that are pretty rad.
When you clinched the title at Budds Creek, what was the relief like in the first moto?
It was huge. Everyone saw it. After the first moto all of the pressure was off and I felt 100 pounds lighter. I think my body was like, "Ahh you did it. Now let's rest." It was challenging to get back out there and go for the second moto.
Is that because you were so spent?
I think it's because all of the emotion drives you toward the championship and once you get it, like Osborne said, it lets the floodgates out. Everything just goes and your body feels how grueling it was through the whole season. After you release it, you're down.
Fast-forward from Saturday at Budds Creek to Wednesday, when Yamaha announced your move to the 450. When did you know that was a done deal?
We were talking about it and it was a big discussion before Unadilla. They came to me with a contract and at first it was sort of, "Hey do you want to do this?" It turned into, "This is probably going to happen so get ready." I knew three weeks before the announcement that it was going to happen. It surprised me at first but I'm excited because I'll take the first year as a learning year and dig in to see where I belong.
This year with Star Racing, you stayed in California the entire time. In the past, you've bounced back and forth between the Carolinas and California. Even though it's far away, do you know what you will do next year?
I'll definitely try to go East. I want to, it's what my fiancé wants to do, and we want to get away from California for a little bit. It was a long summer and I think we got lucky with the humidity, because we only had a few races that were really hot. I think we got lucky with that. It wasn't cold in California, but it's a different heat. The humidity once you jump off of the plane, it's so hard to breathe back east. It feels like you have 10 pounds on your chest. I'm thinking about Florida, because I have talked to people about going there. Being teammates with Justin and his facility, I've talked to him a little bit so hopefully everything works out and we can work with the people I'm with. It won't be until February of next year, but the sooner the better.
Five or seven. Why those two numbers?
They are two badass numbers. They have accomplished unreal amounts of things and are big shoes to fill. I think I need that to keep me driving forward and going. It's motivation to get me up to the top because that's where they belong.
By the time the Motocross of Nations and Monster Energy Cup is done, we'll be midway through October. Will you get to take time off between then and November?
After that there is no time to take off. I could take off a little bit before November, but I don't really want to. I need to test on the 450 as much as I can and get it going for me. I need to get it perfect for Supercross because it'll be hard as it is and to struggle with a bike is not what I want to do or focus on. I'm going to try my hardest to get the testing done so that it's perfect for me.
You're 22 years old. If someone told you at this point last year how the past twelve months have played out, would you have believed it?
Being that I crashed at Ironman and pulled off and wasn't happy with everything going on, I would have told you that you were crazy. I wouldn't have thought this could happen. I went back to California after the races last year and got surgery and was laid up for a while. I took that time to get my mentality back in check and read up on some stuff. I had to have a lot of people tell me, including myself, that I belong up front and that this is the right path for me. I took that and I ran with it. I told myself every day that I belong up front and that if I'm not there, I need to get there.