Adrenaline rush: Forkner blazing path to greatness
Austin Forkner's road to Supercross superstardom is off to a flying start.
The 17-year-old Richards native and bike phenom has racked up a number of recent wins and top finishes as he zeroes in on his professional Supercross debut, likely in 2017.
Forkner, who is signed with Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, locked up two titles at the 7th Annual Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross (RCSX) March 6-7 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Forkner, who may well go down as the most prolific amateur rider in the history of the sport, padded his resume with victories in the Open Pro Sport class, as well as the 250-A class at Daytona Beach.
Technically, Forkner made his professional debut in January, competing in an Arenacross event in Allentown, Pa., where he placed fifth in the first main event and first in the second main he competed in.
One week later Forkner returned to the track with a vengeance, sweeping both main events at the AMSOIL Arenacross race Jan. 30 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro N.C.
According to Eric Johnson of Between the Motos, by winning both of the main events in Greensboro, Forkner was able to "Make the grade and complete his journey in Ricky Carmichael's Road to Supercross." Johnson added that the victories earned Forkner the requisite points needed to compete in Supercross in '17.
Forkner explained that Arenacross, while considered to be on the professional circuit, is like the minor league of the sport, while Supercross is the majors.
Forkner said he was a little nervous prior to his professional debut in Allentown.
"The Arenacross series is generally known for (riders) being aggressive on the track," he said. "You're going to get hit. The track is so tight that to pass somebody ---- sometimes you have to hit them. That's the way you pass."
Luckily, Forkner emerged from the event no worse from the wear.
"Nobody made any super-dirty, stupid passes on me," he said.
In Greensboro not only did Forkner triumph in both main events he raced in, he also won the heat (qualifying) race.
"All I had to do to get my Supercross points was make it to the main (event), and then place top 10 in the main," Forkner said. "My goals were to get my Supercross points and not get hurt."
After earning two of the requisite three points needed in Allentown, Forkner needed only to make the main event in Greensboro to earn his third point. After winning the heat race and qualifying for the main event, Forkner said his mindset changed.
"I got my (requisite) points," he said, "so I was like, 'why not just go for it in the mains.' Now I'm basically done with Arenacross. I just had to use Arenacross as a stepping-stone to Supercross. Now that I have my points, I'm officially considered a pro."
Prior to his recent top finishes, Forkner was sidelined with a concussion suffered in December. He said he sustained the injury while practicing on a track in California.
"We were out there testing the bike and I crashed," he said.
Forkner said he was momentarily knocked cold. He said he took two weeks off from all racing activities per doctor's orders. Forkner said he then flew back to California, went through concussion protocol testing, and was cleared to resume racing activities.
From there Forkner trekked to Tallahassee, Fla., where he's been training at Carmichael's facility ever since. Forkner had previously trained at ex-pro Robbie Reynard's facility in Oklahoma.
Forkner said he was torn with his decision of who to train with.
"Oklahoma is closer (to my family), but Florida is so nice," Forkner said with a chuckle. "But for now I'm training in Florida, and it's been good."
Forkner said he plans on racing exclusively in the Motocross Outdoor Nationals in 2016, as he preps for his 2017 Supercross debut. The first outdoor national event is the Hangtown Nationals, May 21 in Sacramento, Calif. According to www.promotocross.com, the outdoor nationals are part of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series, featuring 12 events from May to August.
"I plan on doing the entire series," Forkner said.
Forkner said that from now until he retires from the sport he will compete in the Supercross series at the beginning of each year, followed by outdoor nationals.
Forkner said it's tough to predict how long he will race.
"Ricky Carmichael retired at 27, but Chad Reed is still going and he's 33," Forkner said.
If Forkner has the success Reed and Carmichael have experienced, both on the track and with endorsement deals, he will be a very wealthy man. Reed's net worth is listed at $60 million, while Carmichael checks in at $25 million.
"If everything goes right and I'm good, and I make a lot of money real quick ---- than I wouldn't have to race as long," Forkner said. "But I'll just play it by ear."
Forkner, who has been racing since he was 4-years-old, said even after retirement he wants to remain a part of the sport.
"I don't know if I will have my own training facility," he said, "but I will be involved with the industry somehow. Maybe even as an announcer."
Accoring to Wiki and Motorcycle Wiki, "Motocross is a form of off-road motorcycle racing held on enclosed off-road circuits. Arenacross is indoors on a dirt track, while Supercross is described as the racing of specialized high performance off-road motorcycles on artificially made dirt tracks consisting of steep jumps and obstacles."
Currently, Forkner races in the 250-A class. Forkner said his ultimate goal is to one day compete in the 450 Supercross class ---- the highest level in the sport.