Cahuilla Creek Raceway was sunny and cool as the helicopter slowly warmed its engine. The blades whipped up sand and pushed out a wall of sound and reverberations that warned everyone to stay away. It was almost time for liftoff, which meant it was time to ride for Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha riders Aaron Plessinger and Justin Cooper and special guest star Ryan Villopoto, one of the all-time greats.
“This is actually my first time out here at this place, and it’s pretty cool,” Justin Cooper, a New Yorker, shouted over the whirl of sound and dust. “It’s in the middle of nowhere and pretty far from everything, but I definitely like it. We’re in the middle of nowhere, but it’s beautiful out here.”
The sprawling Cahuilla Creek facility was pretty much empty except for a throng of pickup trucks, box vans, heavy equipment, and that gray helicopter. Around them an assortment of people were readying cameras, drones, sound equipment, and microphones to shoot the three riders for a video being produced by Ash Hodges of Monster Energy. Plessinger and Cooper would be on the Yamaha YZ250Fs they’d been racing on the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross circuit, while Villopoto chose to ride a YZ450F. The bikes sat in the middle of it all, getting some last-minute adjustments from the team mechanics, though Villopoto was working on his own bike.