She’s only five feet tall, but Shayna Texter stands out in the American Flat Track paddock.
INTERVIEW & IMAGES Chris Nelson
A few years back, Shayna Texter became the first woman ever to win a professional flat track race—still the only one, she says—and even though she missed a few races this season, she’d earned enough points coming into the last race of the American Flat Track (AFT) season to be in contention for the 2017 championship. Soon after an opportunity at the top spot came into view, the hype around Texter boiled over. She chased the championship best she could but in the final race of the season, she and her No. 52 Honda CRF450R finished in fifth place and came up 27 points shy of the championship for the AFT Singles class, which went to Kolby Carlile. A few hours before the final of race of the season, we sat down with Shayna Texter and asked her about her success in the Singles class, her plans for the future, and about the championship she almost cinched.
Iron & Air: You’ve been racing flat track a long while but have had a rough past few years…you and the sport weren’t really seeing eye-to-eye. Then you moved to this newly formed Singles class, and now you’re in a championship race. Tell us about that shift.
Shayna Texter: Not being up front, at the end of the day, it takes a toll on you. You start second-guessing yourself, if it's you or if it's the bike, or if it's just the whole package. When they introduced this Singles class last year at the banquet… it just seemed right for me to go back to Singles. The decision was solely go back to Singles, not to win races, not to win championships, but to get myself back, confidentially and mentally. It was a really hard decision.
I spent numerous hours on the phone talking to my team, my family, and Jared Mees. Because you get on a Single in hopes of one day getting on a Twin. All of a sudden, I fell backwards. It was tough but at the same time, it what's really helped me. Here I am. I never would have guessed missing six main events this year, I would be in the championship hunt, but we're still in it. I feel like I've proven myself as a rider on a Single, but I feel like I haven't completely proven myself as a Twin rider yet. For me, a lot of people already say that I'm the best female flat tracker to ever come through, but in my eyes, I'm not there yet until I can prove it.
I&A: You’re planning on making the move back to Twins though, no?
ST: When I moved back to Singles the plan was, no matter what, to go back to Twins in 2018, but now everything's changed. Going out and winning five races and being up in the championship… it's kind of opened up a whole new door for myself and for the sport of flat track. As an individual, I can really help American Flat Track grow as a sport. I see the struggles that the guys and myself have gone through to be noticed in this motorcycle industry... it's not easy. If I can use myself to try and help grow the whole sport of Flat Track, that almost means more to me than anything at the end of the day.
Years ago, before I won my first race in 2011, my goal was to grow the sport of flat track… use myself as a female to try and grow the sport and get people watching it. At the time, nobody knew I won a race, no one knew I won eight races, but this year, American Flat Track and made it known. They're going after. They're showcasing some of these up-and-coming riders on NBC Sports, doing profiles and doing interviews. They're not just sitting at home, hoping America's going to notice. They're actually out there trying to open up new doors with new companies. American Flat Track is pushing behind the scenes to try and grow our sport. I've never seen that before.
I&A: Yeah, AFT has brought about a palpable change in the sport… but before we get sidetracked, let’s talk about the elephant sitting with us: the championship. How’s the chase going?
ST: I left Peoria with a lead in the championship. Then we got to Springfield and I didn't end up making the main, which I didn't anticipate that at all. We were 12 points down going into three rounds, I was like, "Alright, this is good." Then we got to Williams Grove and got a flat tire, spun a tube, the very first lap of the semi-qualifying race to the main. That threw the knife into the whole mix and the whole plan. But I wouldn't say the goal of the team has been to win a championship. For me, as a rider, it just happened… to be in the championship. I'm a firm believer of whatever happens, happens. Right now we're second in points and that's... insane for me to actually think of. Like I said, we've missed six rounds, and we're still in second place.
I&A: You’re so calm. You’re acting like this is an absolutely normal day.
ST: For me, it is. We’ll line up for our first round of practice, we’ll pull out on the track, and then we go. Yesterday I woke up and ate the same thing I ate this morning for breakfast. Went to sleep the same time I went to sleep the night before. I don't try and change my schedule. I try and keep it the same. Until the light goes green, I’m just kind of going through my day. It's just like going to work. Whether I leave here tonight as a champion or leave here in second place, at the end of the day, I'm still the same person with the same goals, and that's to try and grow this sport for the future generations. I'm going to go home and still be the Shayna Texter I've always been.