Photos by Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
Aaron Plessinger has won over a giant fan base the past couple of years as he rose to 250 success aboard his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha race bike, showing his unique personality and a unique happy-go-lucky attitude throughout the process. The 2019 season will mark his entrance into the 450 class aboard a factory Yamaha alongside teammate Justin Barcia, also laying claim to a career number 7 that he earned with his 250 successes. We haven’t seen him since the MXoN, so we caught up about everything from his new number 7, to dad life, to life on the YZ450F. Read on…
It has a good ring to it, doesn't it? [Laughs]
How's dad life? You're three months in now, right?
Yeah, it's really good actually. He sleeps during the night, he only cries when he wants to eat or when he gets scared of something. But he smiles all the time, and it's a dream come true!
You could say he takes after his dad! Here's a topic no one has discussed with you yet…you're the new #7! It's pretty nice to see it back in action.
Yeah, I kind of wanted to have some big shoes to fill coming into the 450 class and felt like that was one of the good ways to do it. So to pick a number with a legacy behind it and try to live up to it is the goal, the number 7 is definitely a good one. I think it looks good, and I hope and plan to make it look even better.
It's funny because the #7 has been put onto numerous different bikes via Photoshop over the past few years, but now it's actually on your Yamaha. How did the process go…did you hit him up? I assume you're not just getting a call into James, who's basically off the radar.
I actually waited until the last minute to actually pick it, because I didn't know if it was alright or not. But, I wanted to hit him up and knew if he said no than I wasn't going to be able to have it. [Laughs] So I kind of just jumped on it!
In your defense, the #7 has been inactive for a few years now and these numbers just don't stay idle. K-dub's #14 was taken by Seely, Baggett has Carmichael's #4 –these numbers go through generations.
Yeah, and this year the single digits were like 5, 7, 8, and 9. So I wanted a single digit and 7 was the best looking number. And like you said, somebody has had every number and they all have legacy behind them. I plan to keep this one going!
Think it will give you a little extra juice on the whips though?
[Laughs] I haven't even whipped this 450 too many times yet, but I hope.
You guys bust your ass for results, so you have to be pretty proud to have a career number heading into 450's.
Yeah, it's definitely gnarly to get a career number and one of those things that not many people can say that they have. It's definitely awesome to get it, and it's been an experience now preparing to race with it and getting this 450 wrangled down.
That's my next question…how has the transition been? Some 250 riders rarely touch a 450 before making the jump in class.
It's different for sure, and in amateurs you ride them a lot but then go straight into the 250 class and you're kind of off 450's. Some people practice on them, and I practiced on it a lot in 2015 then kind of tapered off of it. Yeah, you don't ride it for so long and it is kind of hard to get used to it but I'm coming around to it.
They mentioned your riding style is basically the opposite of Barcia's –you're low in the RPM while he's known to be bouncing off the rev limiter!
Yeah, it's weird to hear him going around the track and I feel like I'm going ten times slower but that's not the case. It's pretty cool how different we are.
And this first 450 year generally teams look at it as a learning year rather than, "Go win us a title!!" Is that how you'll be approaching it?
Yeah, I mean I would definitely like to win some races but I'm not going to get my hopes up and say, "I'm gonna win this thing!" But I'm going to try to stake my claim in the 450 class and show these guys that I'm not messing around.
Do you think too many guys come in expecting too much, then get beat and get demoralized?
Yeah, and it's definitely tough to get the 450 working exactly the way you want it to right off the rip. I think some guys get their hopes up and feel good at the practice track, then go to the race and haven't had a real race simulation deal and don't do too well and get down on themselves and let it ruin it for them.
Have you worked with Barcia before this?
I've known him for quite a few years actually because I went to MTF in 2008. I knew him then, but this is really the first time we have worked together.
This year was the perfect ending to your 250 racing career, and then the obvious bummer that was the 2018 Motocross of Nations right after that. Did it take a while for the sting of that loss to go away or did you move on from it pretty quickly?
I wasn't really that bummed after it was all over because obviously the track shaped up so much in their favor. You could tell from watching it on TV that it was not Redbud. It wasn’t Redbud at all –it was almost like showing up to a sand track and racing them on their own turf. It was unlike anything I've ever ridden before.
Watching it as an American, I was proud of how much heart and pride everyone and you specifically brought to that event. I think that regardless of results, you made a statement that it's an honor to represent team USA and should hang your head high on effort.
I went their wanting to represent the USA as much as I could, and I did just that. I'm fine with it. After it was all over, I literally didn't even think about it anymore, moved on, and just came back here and got on the 450 and started ripping!
So currently you're just living the dad life it while mom is out of town, he's here at the test track…life is good.
Yep, she gets back today actually. I'm full dad time right now, man! I'm pretty pumped.
Any off season races before Anaheim?
I don't know yet –I'm still deciding. I actually just got back on the bike after a little injury and I'm still deciding if I'm going to do any. I might race Geneva, but if my back isn't feeling perfect I'm not going to race.
Was the back thing just a practice injury deal?
Yeah, I didn't even crash. I just over jumped a jump into a berm and kind of stunned my back a little bit. It's just one of those things, it happens.
So still feeling that out, getting comfortable on the 450, and maybe your fans will see you at Geneva.
Leaving them wondering, I like the mystery!