When the gate drops to start the first of two motocross races Saturday, Aaron Plessinger could treat the opening circuits around Ironman Raceway as parade laps. He could play it safe. Throw in a few tricks to treat the crowd.
The Hamilton native has already clinched the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 250 class championship so there’s nothing to lose. But with the season finale at Crawfordsville, Ind., Plessinger’s goal remains the same – he plans to keep leading the procession.
“This weekend is always a fun weekend going back home. It’s going to be a good one,” said Plessinger, who grew up about 2 ½ hours away from the track. “I’m going to try and lock it down with a 1-1 (winning both motos) and show the hometown I’m good to go for next year. I’m feeling really good and really confident.”
Plessinger, who holds an insurmountable 84-point lead in the 250 class, will celebrate the championship with upwards of 60 family and friends Saturday. His parents, Scott and Angie, will be there along with about 15 additional family members. He’s expecting nearly 50 friends, too.
“It’s not like you would think, but I’ve definitely gotten a few ticket requests,” Plessinger said, laughing.
Plessinger has been in demand elsewhere, too. He re-signed with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing for the 2019 season and will move up to the 450 class. He was also selected to compete for Team USA in the Motocross of Nations event – described as the sport’s version of the Olympics – at Redbud National in Michigan on Oct. 6-7.
“That’s a dream come true right there,” Plessinger said of the MX of Nations. “I didn’t really watch much motocross growing up, but when I got into I started looking into that and wanting to be a part of it. It kind of surprised me this year. I really like that track and the team we have going. I think it’s going to be a heck of a year for the MX of Nations team and the U.S. I can’t wait to represent the country.”
A title there would be his third this season. Plessinger won the 250 Supercross West title after finishing third last season. He also finished second in the 250 Supercross East championship chase in 2016. This season Plessinger finally broke through with those two championships.
But he still has a little bit to go before catching up with his dad. Scott Plessinger won Grand National Cross Country (off-road racing) championships in 1994 and 1995 and National Hare Scramble (racing through woods or rugged terrain) championships in 1989 and 1992.
Plessinger, who has lived in southern California since 2014, enters Ironman with five victories in 11 races. Winning Saturday would be the perfect way to end the season. Well, that and a trip to one of his favorite places to eat.
“I like Skyline Chili a lot,” Plessinger said of things he misses from Hamilton. “I miss all my friends. … We still talk a lot. I miss my family every day. And I miss the nature in Ohio. You don’t find that many green trees out here in southern California. And it’s really hard to grow grass.”
Plessinger – the 2015 Monster Energy Supercross Rookie of the Year – credits his off-season workouts with trainer Gareth Swanepoel for a major part of this season’s success. Getting engaged to Kendall Taylor and having a baby also changed Plessinger’s mindset.
“My trainer really put us through a really horrid off season. It was tough to get through that,” Plessinger said.
“I think my mentality has definitely changed this year. I’ve got a baby boy and a fiancee I have to provide for. It’s definitely changed my mind from wanting to win into having to win. It’s changed me into a better rider and a better person. A lot of people have helped in making me believe I belong up front.”