American Flat Track: Shayna Texter Talks About Her Return To The Top

After a rough patch, Texter’s got her groove back and is back to beating the boys on the Mile track

Shayna Texter returns to winning
Shayna Texter scored her ninth-career win at the Arizona Mile last Saturday.Photo: Andrea Wilson

Shayna Texter has had some rough years, but she finally found redemption with her first win in four years at the Arizona Mile last weekend. It's not a unique story. Racers, athletes in general, have to weather tough times along with the great times. Well Texter has weathered the storm, and come out on the other side with a win that also propelled her into the 2017 AFT Singles Championship lead after four rounds of the 18-round American Flat Track Championship.

Back in 2011, Texter turned a lot of heads by beating the boys in a knock-down-drag-out fight to take her first win at Knoxville Raceway. She followed that up with another seven wins over three years in the support class, five of which were on the Miles. With two of those Mile wins on a Basic Twin in 2013, many expected Texter to make a splash in the Grand National Championship.

Shayna Texter at 2017 Arizona Mile
2- Texter (52) battled with Brandon Price (92) and Tristan Avery (16) the whole race.Photo: Andrea Wilson

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a smooth transition with a host of issues with development bikes and no stability in a team. The series itself lacked stability, while it was long on entertainment value and great racing, but short on funding. Fast forward four years and Texter finally has a bike she’s confident with, has found a good home with Richie Morris Racing, and she’s back to winning.

With the restructuring of classes in the newly rebranded American Flat Track—AFT Twins and AFT Singles—there was an option to make a choice of which class to race. While the AFT Twins class is the premier class where riders fight for the Grand National Championship, the Singles class is not a lesser championship, just a different type of motorcycle: 450 single cylinder machines instead of Twins. Still, it wasn’t an easy choice for Texter.

“There was a lot of pros and cons to riding either class,” Texter said. “The competition is at the top in both classes right now, so it wasn’t a really easy decision. So Richie (Morris) and I, we spent a lot of time, a lot of hours going over the decision, actually. But really we sat back and looked more so what was best for myself, for the team and I moving forward long-term.”

For Texter and her Team Owner, Richie Morris, it made sense to get back to enjoying racing a motorcycle again.

“The last couple years have really been a struggle for me since I’ve moved up to the twins class with bikes and switching teams and mechanics, and doing a lot of R&D with these different teams has been a struggle,” she said. “So the bottom line is that the decision for me to go back to singles was to help me as a rider get back into race form and mentally get back into who I was when I entered the twins class my rookie season in 2014.”

Shayna Texter returns to AFT Singles
Although it wasn’t an easy decision returning to the AFT Singles class has proven to be the right choice for 2017.Photo: Andrea Wilson

Ultimately the goal is to get back to racing Twins again. “I’ve proven, I feel, that I can ride a single, but I haven’t proven that I can ride a twin yet,” she acknowledged. “So the ultimate goal is for me to return actually to the twin class in 2018. But we’re going to use 2017 for me to get comfortable as a motorcycle racer again mentally.”

The plan worked. Texter is back on form and leading the title chase. “It’s been a long time since I’ve won,” she said. “It’s been a couple years, and like I said, it’s been a rough, couple years. It’s a huge step in the right direction to get back on track for myself. It’s rewarding to the team to reward them and show them that all of their hard work is paying off. It’s an exciting future for RMR racing.”

Shayna Texter at Arizona Mile
Texter points towards her new crew this year as a big part of her resurgence. She was happy to return the favor with a win, taking her mechanic Nick Daniels with her on the victory lap.Photo: Andrea Wilson

Texter also credits her team as a critical part of her resurgence. Even though it’s her second year with the team, her crew is new and they bring with them the experience of dirt track.

“The team has surrounded me with some really great guys. James Hart and Nick Daniels behind me in my corner every weekend,” she explained. “We hit it off so good with team chemistry. That’s a huge part of it. The knowledge that James and Nick both have from racing themselves and being tuners and stuff, you can’t really buy that.

Shayna Texter Honda CRF450
Texter is enjoying riding her Honda CRF450, but ultimately looks to return to the Twins class next season.Photo: Andrea Wilson

“Last year we were struggling a little bit without that dirt track knowledge. This year now we have that dirt track knowledge and things are clicking along really good. I’m starting to get that confidence back. I feel really good on a motorcycle. That was the main reason why I went back to 450s, was just to almost learn how to race again. The last couple years as everyone saw, it’s been rough with a lot of things that I could control, with handling issues on the mile tracks, which are usually my specialty. I couldn’t even ride them to my full potential.”

During those tough times, Shayna Texter nearly walked away from racing. It was the fans that kept her going.

“It’s incredible,” Texter said. “The fans are the real reason why I continue to race when it’s tough. To see the look on the little girls and women and men even also come up to you and tell you you’re an inspiration…that inspires me to keep riding. To have their support means everything."