Photos by: Chase Yocom
“Cooksey’s Hard Truth” presented by Scott Sports is a weekly editorial written by Chris Cooksey. Chris will be diving in and out of controversial subjects and bringing you his hard truth about the racing and the riders from around the world of Supercross and Motocross.
During RedBud this last Saturday, Eli Tomac proved once again he is must-see TV. I do not think everyone appreciates what a gift Eli is to the motocross/supercross world. Eli has created more drama than script writers for the WWE could imagine. With fairness to Eli, his issues at RedBud were set in motion from a bike failure that was out of his control. If his Kawasaki had not failed, he was set to win moto 1 which would have eliminated his poor gate pick for moto 2. With that said, Eli has a knack for finding dramatic situations.
Going back to the beginning of his career, Eli has had extreme highs and lows. He won the first pro race he entered at Hangtown and looked to be on his way to winning his second race before he suffered heat exhaustion. In 2012, Eli gave us a taste of drama in Seattle as he paid back Dean Wilson’s block pass with one of his own en route to the West Coast Supercross Championship. In 2013 at the SLC Supercross, we glimpsed signs of what Eli’s future drama-filled career would look like. Eli’s championship rival at the time, Ken Roczen, crashed out of his qualifier and the LCQ which forced Ken to watch the main event from the stands. If Eli had gone out and won the race, he would have essentially locked up the title, but instead he floundered to a 6th place finish, keeping the chase alive going into the last race.
After the SLC Supercross, many including myself chalked this up to youth. In hindsight, it is just the way Eli does things, and I have come to appreciate him in all his glory. When champions of the past had a large point lead, the series became an afterthought as the point leader would usually wrap up the series drama free. Eli on the other hand provides the type of drama promoters dream about. As much as I thoroughly enjoy any series with Eli, I have to think how frustrating this must be for him. During the last two seasons he has been clearly the fastest rider throughout the entire season. He looked to have his issues fixed during the first 4 rounds of the 2018 Outdoor Season, but the same old issues have crept back in. In the past, I have questioned Eli’s mental strength, but I am going to retract that. The struggles he has faced would have crushed a lesser man, and Eli is still the guy to beat week in and week out. The sport is lucky to have such an enigmatic champion.
Speaking of struggles, Austin Forkner has struggled the last two weeks. At Southwick, Alex Martin used his KTM 250 like a battering ram and then promptly went on national television and subtly blamed Forkner for the incident. All week, keyboard warriors have been challenging Forkner’s toughness. I have even heard some respected journalists call him “soft.” They point to the incident with Aaron Plessinger as confirmation that he is “soft.” This is ridiculous! Let’s look at the season as a whole, Forkner broke his collarbone at the Minneapolis Supercross, took multiple massive crashes before sustaining the injury and still got right back on the bike. One month after breaking his collarbone, he was on the line at Hangtown.
Hangtown is where the “soft” talk originated. The story for his Hangtown rib injury is one that left Pinocchio questioning his honesty. While I have no proof his injury did not happen the way he says, I can’t wrap my brain around how a holeshot device popping early could separate ribs. If his ribs were previously injured or his body was over compensating due to his collarbone injury I could see it happening. Either way, I don’t see how you can call him “soft” for pulling off at Hangtown, a mere 4 weeks after breaking his collarbone. In fact, I will go the opposite direction and call him “tough” for gutting out the second moto at RedBud. I saw the controversial incident with Plessinger as a racing incident, but that doesn’t mean Forkner didn’t hit the ground in spectacular fashion. In addition, this is the second week in a row that he has hit the ground in dramatic fashion; I’m sure he is sore.
If you want to call Forkner “soft,” I recommend you run flat out for 30 minutes during the hottest part of the day. Then without resting, jump out of a moving car at 25-30 mph and let me know how you feel. Watching the races from the comfort of our air-conditioned houses, sometimes we forget how tough these guys are. While Forkner might not be the toughest guy in the sport—that’s reserved for Eli—I take exception with keyboard warriors calling him soft!