Austin Forker, perhaps one of the most misunderstood cats on the gate, has been recovering from a complicated collarbone break suffered during the infamous crash with Jett Lawrence in Arlington back in February but still isn’t ready to race this weekend in St. Louis.
Now I feel like it should be stated that I know very little about Fornker, both past and present day versions. So when I saw his interview on the DMXS podcast (original and still best) feed I knew I needed to listen and holy smokes was it one of the better pods I have heard in a while. Austin was very forthcoming answering the questions that are on everyones mind: Was he mad at Jett, when will he be back, what does 23’ look like, how is the massive horse of a dog doing and much more.
Austin’s riding at the beginning of the season was very reminiscent of how Mookie was riding when he landed his Rockstar Husky ride. Not necessarily timid, but with a much more calm and calculated approach and we all took notice.
“Really the only way I could look at [the crash]… I was trying to do everything right, I was trying to be ok with getting beat, be ok with getting passed, be ok with not being the fastest guy on the track during every session. I was trying to do all of that, and then you know, something that was kind of out of my control happened,” he said on the podcast.
You can’t help but feel for the guy. Austin went on to say: “I was trying to do everything right, I tried to change my mindset this year, I tried to do all of that stuff but sometimes you just have bad luck.”
After a turbulent couple of years with injuries, lagging results, and everything else life can throw at you, it is evident Austin has taken a more sound approach to his racing on the mental side of the coin, which is a larger component to racing than some would like to admit.
Walking away with a broken collarbone seems like it was best case scenario considering Austin fell from the sky to flat but even that came with its own little set of issues. “It broke around the plate and through some of the screws, but was still pretty lined up so [the doctors] didn’t think it would be a problem” said Forkner. But after checking in with his doctor back in Oklahoma there were a couple small issues with his existing plate they made the decision to have it replaced. “I felt stuff moving around in there and turns out it was my plate,” he said. This didn’t push the timeline back much from the original target ride date but still frustrating never the less.
When talking about the Arlington round and the mayhem that ensued, Fornker mentioned that he did in fact run into Jettson after the race, it just so happened to be right outside of the Alpinestars medic rig. “Not to be mean but [Jett] was the last person I wanted to see right then, not saying it was his fault but that is just how it is. You are not going to get cleaned out by someone, whether it was an accident or not then be excited to see them you know.”
If that isn’t the most relatable statement you have heard in a bit I don’t know what is. Of course the last person anyone wants to see is the one who, accident or not, ruined your chances at a title. Forkner went on to say, “I could tell he was actually sorry. I can’t be overly mad about it, it wasn’t something that was blatantly done on purpose that got me hurt, it was an accident.”
Not that I think they will be hitting the links together any time soon but it was cool to hear a racer think the same thoughts we have all had in a take out situation.
2023 plans are also a hot topic of conversation as Forkner has said publicly that he would like to be aboard a 450. “I don’t know what that right decision is, I don’t know if there is a right decision,” said Forkner when asked about moving up to a 450 or staying one more year in the 250 class. “I don’t really have an answer for next year at this moment I guess, all I want to do is get back to racing.”’
Austin is still under contract with Kawasaki for another year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is guaranteed a slot under the factory rig alongside AC and Jason Anderson. That then brings up the possibility of Mitch doing what they did for Bro Tickle a few years back, building a 450 and taking Forkner racing in that way or worst case he will give it another crack in the 250.
The proverbial tide is shifting in the right direction for Forkner given his 2022 approach to racing but more importantly his approach to the mental part of the equation that most seem to sleep on. He did take away some positives from the whole situation.
“For one time in my career, I actually didn’t have hardly any negative comments on my IG posts!” he said.
Only time will tell how the remainder of Austin’s 250 career will round out but at the end of the day none of us will remember his 250 class “woes” when he is on the podium and winning races in the 450 class in, possibly 6-9 months from now. Until then there is nothing to do but watch how it all plays out.
LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW BY SEARCHING DMXS RADIO WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODS!
Main image: Kawasaki