Words: Joy Burgess
Photos: Kristen Lassen and Scott Hunter
You’ve read about Shayna Texter on our Woman Rider pages several times, from a story about her never-quit attitude and success in American Flat Track racing to an interview that included her thoughts on staying fit during a pandemic. The only female out there mixing it up with the guys in a sport that’s been largely male-dominated for nearly a century, she’s currently the winningest AFT Singles rider in history…yet she’s never taken home a championship. But maybe, just maybe, that’s about to change as we wrap up the 2020 season.
If you’re not familiar with flat track, there’s a reason it’s dubbed “America’s original extreme sport.” With a history that dates back to the 1920s when rudimentary motorcycles had no brakes, the sport involves racing at full speed around a dirt oval at speeds of over 100 mph. Sound easy? It’s not! It takes so much strength and athleticism to hang on for the ride – much less actually win – that only five women have ever held national numbers through the years: Tammy Jo Kirk, Michelle Disalvo, Nichole Mees, Shayna Texter, and Sandriana Shipman.
Among these women – all legendary in their own right – only Texter has ever taken home a professional Grand National win. It happened at Knoxville, Iowa back in 2011. “She had a horrible start that night,” American Flat Track announcer and historian Scottie Deubler commented, “and went back and forth with now-fiancé (and current factory Indian Rider and 2019 Twins Champ) Briar Bauman, who was competing in his first season as a pro. As they battled wheel-to-wheel the crowd was going apeshit, on their feet the whole race.”
Since that first historic win at Knoxville, she’s continued to prove herself in the sport again and again, racking up another 18 wins over the past few seasons. But despite all the wins, she came in third in the championship in 2017 and ’18 and seventh in the championship in 2019.
Why? Because TT races and short tracks continue to be her kryptonite. She’s had a tough time even qualifying into races at these types of tracks, mainly because they require a different style of riding that caters to the larger, stronger males, which there are plenty of in the packed Singles field.
But 2020…well, it’s different. Everything in 2020 has fallen prey to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Originally, American Flat Track racing was supposed to kick off with the Daytona TT during Daytona Bike Week. Then Covid-19 shut everything down and we all went into lockdown for several months.
Finally, American Flat Track got the series back on the road in late July at the Volusia Half Mile in Florida. Because of the many changes to the schedule, we have a season that features no TTs and more Half Miles, where Texter always proves formidable. With the Springfield Short Track behind us and only one more short track left at Atlanta, the rest of the season caters to her strengths. That begs the question: could this be the season she’s able to make history as the first woman to win the championship?
Naysayers will remind me that Shayna currently sits ninth in the points standings for the season. Her best finish in 2020 is second-place at the Volusia HM 2 where she worked her way up from the back to take second and likely would have won if she’d had another lap or two. She also ended up on the podium with a third-place finish at the Indy Mile II (a race that I, and many others, thought she’d win).
Despite not taking home a win yet, she still has a chance at the championship. We’ve seen six different winners in the Singles class so far spreading out the points, and with eight races left in the season the door is still open for Texter.
Of course, American Flat Track is carrying on in the middle of a pandemic, this season has ushered in many changes for AFT, and Shayna’s preparing for a wedding next month. She struggled on both of the Williams Grove Half-Miles, something unusual for the racer who has many Mile and Half-Mile wins to her credit. “Long weekend for our team,” Texter noted on her social media pages, “just battling grip and getting drives off of the corners. Came home night two in p15. The team worked so hard with throwing everything we could at it and I cannot thank them enough for trying! We will regroup and be ready to rock & roll in Texas.”
There’s always one thing you have to remember…you can never count Shayna Texter out! She never quits. And like brother Cory has said before, “When Shayna decides she’s going to win the race, she’s going to win the race.” And perhaps…a Championship!