“When my helmet’s on, I’m treated like any other racer.”
Shayna Texter. Image by Andrea Wilson, used with permission.
With a blond ponytail whipping out of her helmet, standing at five feet tall, weighing just 95 pounds, Shayna Texter is the all-American, fresh-faced female rider leading the pack in American Flat Track, a highly competitive, male-dominated motorcycle racing sport.
She’s one of just two professional female riders currently competing in the sport — and she’s thriving. Texter posted five wins in 2017 and finished the American Flat Track Singles championship series in third place. In 2011, she became the first female to win a main event in AFT history with her singles win at Knoxville Raceway and followed up that landmark win with another seven during the next three years. Recently, she trained with Jay Leno.
American Flat Track, sometimes referred to as “America’s original extreme sport,” involves customized motorcycles reaching top speeds of up to 140 mph, piloted by young, athletic, world-class athletes. With roots dating back to the first two-wheel speed demons in the 1920s, AFT is regarded as the most prestigious and competitive form of dirt track motorcycle racing in the world. Today, the series is comprised of two classes: AFT Twins and AFT Singles.
She is the latest generation from a family of Flat Track racers, and competes alongside her successful brother, Cory Texter, who is also a professional in the series and races in the AFT Twins class. They are one of the few brother-sister duos to compete in the highest level of motorsports.
One of her greatest personal setbacks was the passing of her father in 2010, who was also a professional flat track racer and served as her inspiration to get involved with the sport.
But Texter’s determination is in her blood. A fierce and respected competitor on the race track, she’s a kind, thoughtful soul in her free time — enjoying country music, fishing, and time with family and friends. She’s also a devoted advocate interested in inspiring the next generation of girls. Here’s what she had to say when GOOD caught up with her:
You've mentioned your father as a source of inspiration. What's his influence been on you as an athlete?
My dad and Grandfather Texter both passed away in 2010. Before my dad’s passing, he paved a path for my brother Cory and me. He taught us so many things that both Cory and I continue to live off of today. For me, he was an inspiration. He battled through cancer at a young age and heart disease for many years before his passing in 2010. Never once did he give up or quit trying when things became difficult. His determination, his attitude, and his work ethic I try and duplicate in every aspect of life, and especially in my work as an athlete.
Image by Scott Hunter, used with permission.
Is being petite an advantage in your sport? Did it affect which sports you played/participated in as a child?
My size never affected which sports I played as a child. Beside motorcycles, my second love growing up was soccer. I played soccer for more than 10 years on a travel team and for my school before calling it quits in 10th grade to focus primarily on flat track.
Being petite has its advantages and disadvantages in flat track racing. The tracks with high speeds and a draft, my smaller body allows me tuck more down the straightaway and cut through the wind better. However, the smaller tracks where you really have to muscle the bike around and use your body to get the bike turned is more of a struggle for me. I also struggle a lot more with rear-end grip on slippery racetracks, because I do not have the weight and the body size like some of my competitors do to get my body up over the rear wheel.
How does the sport balance athleticism with safety? How do you view it personally?
The American Flat Track series tries to put safety at the top. At every round, riders have to wear a full leather suit, leather gloves, boots, a DOT-approved helmet, and back protector. The tracks that have walls also have air bag fencing that is deployed in front of the walls in the high impact sections of the racetrack. American Flat Track also has multiple observers to check on the racetrack at all times throughout the day for safety, and we have lights and certain flags to notify us riders while on the track.
How do you prepare for big races?
I am very routine-based and a thinker. A lot of guys will study footage by watching the races from the previous weekend, whereas I have to do the opposite. I do a lot better by trying to minimize my thinking about the race, so I don’t typically watch the races until the end of the year. I love racing motorcycles, and my second love when I am not riding them is working on them.
Since I ride for a team now, my mechanics, Nick and James, are in charge of my race bikes, so I live my “mechanic side” through them. I like to stay in communication with them as much as possible during the week. We will talk about the previous weekend — about what worked and didn’t work — on the bike. We will then switch gears to the race coming up and our plan of attack for the bike. The team and I both like to show up to the track and have the bike as close as possible right out of the truck. It doesn’t always happen that way, but it’s the ultimate goal. I will go through the motions of the week of training, practicing, and preparing my gear for the weekend. I like to show up with my helmet, boots, and suit all prepped and ready for first round of practice. The morning of the race I like to eat a pretty heavy breakfast because my day is usually wide open from there.
Image by Andrea Wilson, used with permission.
Why should more girls consider motorcycle racing?
If a girl loves riding her motorcycle and has dreams of racing, she should 100% try it. For me, I have been riding since I was 3-and-a-half years old. I have been around racing my entire life, so I couldn’t resist not trying it. I love riding a motorcycle, and I love hanging with my friends who also share the same passion for riding. Motorcycle racing has taught me so many things in life, but most importantly I have another family because of it. I have made so many friends, I have been to so many places, and I have experienced a lot; I owe that all to motorcycle racing.