The AFT Interview: Shayna Texter
After a dramatic comeback in 2017, American dirt track racing’s fastest female looks to 2018 and beyond – and as a free agent
First off, congratulations on a very successful 2017 season.
Thanks. Like most racing seasons, there were ups and downs. But we had some really good weekends in 2017 while competing for the AFT Singles championship, and I’m excited about the possibilities going forward.
Your team situation has changed. Can you fill us in?
For the last two and a half seasons I’ve ridden for the Richie Morris Racing team on a Honda CRF450R. I won’t be with RMR for 2018, but I want to thank the team for everything it did for me – especially James Hart, Nick Daniels and Shane Hill. The crew at RMR believed in me and worked hard on my behalf, and as I said, we had some great successes, especially in 2017. It will be different riding for a new team next season, but for me it’s the right decision.
What are your plans so far for 2018?
Right now I’m talking to a few different people and sponsors, but nothing’s concrete. I’m pretty sure I want to ride singles again in 2018, because in the grand scheme it makes more sense for me career-wise. But I’m open to getting back on a Twin, too.
So you’re a free agent?
[Laughs] Yeah, I guess you could say that.
You’re coming off a very competitive year, a comeback year with five event wins and a shot at the AFT Singles title. How does that feel now?
It’s been exciting. And it’s opened my eyes, too, to what the top-level guys like Bryan [Smith] and Jared [Mees] go through on a weekly basis during the year. I haven’t been at the top of a championship with a chance to win it since my amateur days, and to be there this past season, after not qualifying for the main in six events, was an interesting scenario. Winning a championship wasn’t my goal at the start of the season; I wanted to get my confidence back, and just focus on winning some races – and I fell into the title chase.
Luckily, I had a good support system at home and with my mechanics, and even though we struggled at some events – TTs, mostly – and didn’t score points, we were still in contention at the end. I remember thinking, after Peoria where I didn’t make the Main, “Hey, you’re still in it.” It’s funny, too. We’re all a big family in the flat track community, especially at the races, but when you’re leading the series and winning races, some people start to look at you a little differently. That was a unique experience for me this year, and it took some getting used to.
Why did you struggle at the TTs?
It’s a few things, I think. For one, I crashed pretty hard at a few TTs, and then I had a scary one at Peoria back in about 2008, and since then I’ve been a bit hesitant to hang it out on the TTs. I didn’t grow up racing motocross or trail riding like some of the riders, so I’m not as comfortable jumping and making corrections mid-air. And after that crash… well, it was tough. But I’ve gotten better, and with some off-season work on tighter tracks with jumps over this off-season, I’m hoping my TT and short track performance improves. I’m also smaller and have less leverage with the bike, and in those tighter, more slam-bam type races, it’s a bit harder for me. No excuse, because I have had some success on TT tracks as an amateur, so I just have to make the necessary adjustments this offseason.
Tell us about your training regimen.
When I’m in training mode I run, ride mountain and road bikes, use a rowing machine, lift weights, etc. During the season, and this was especially true this past season, I didn’t train nearly as much, mainly just a maintenance regimen. I was in pretty good riding shape already, and with the Single being lighter and easier to ride, it wasn’t a problem. This year I’m gonna try to keep up the workouts as much as I can during the season. It also helps having Briar [Bauman] and Cory [Texter] around as training partners. As far as nutrition goes, I usually eat well, and stay away from junk food most of the time. But I do on occasion have a soft spot for chicken cheese steaks.
You’ve said you’re very comfortable on the new Honda CRF450.
Honestly, it’s been years and years since I’ve felt as comfortable as I do on the 2017 Honda. It just fits me, and I felt good and competitive on it from the very first test. I ran the first three rounds with a stock engine and a pipe, and I got on the box in two of those races. There are a lot of good machines out there from a number of manufacturers, but I really did love my Honda this past season. That said, there are a handful of things I know I can do to make the bike better in the future. There is always room for improvement.
You’ve raced twins in the past, and also a bit last year. Is AFT Twins racing in your future?
I’m sure it is. I raced a twin twice this past season, making the main at the second Springfield Mile, and finishing 12th on the RMR team’s test machine. So that felt good. And of course I’ve done well and won GNC2 races on twins in the past. The big thing for me during the 2017 season was to regain my confidence, get my race craft back, and for the most part I did that. Getting back on a twin will be another step up, but I’m confident I’ll be able to make the transition, especially with the right team behind me in the future.
What are you looking forward to most in 2018?
Winning more races, for sure. It’s gonna be hard to out-do my five-win 2017 performance, but that’s the goal: win races, win the championship, and put my stamp in the record books. I’m also looking for that ideal team, and be surrounded by positive, motivating people who live, eat, and sleep dirt track racing just as I do, and who never give up. It’s like my Dad was with me while I was growing up. I remember him staying up really late at nights, trying to figure out how to tweak my bike to try to help me win. I have seen and lived that sort of commitment, and I want that again.
A last word?
I love what I’m doing. And I’m super motivated to keep the momentum I built in 2017 going. I realize one of the keys to winning the championship is to make the most of the bad days – which do happen in any season. So yeah…my goals, once I get settled on a new team, are to prepare well, win races, win the championship, and help build and promote the AFT series as much as I can. I spent a lot of time this season on my off weekends promoting the sport and helping the series grow. The series is picking up momentum, and keeping that going will help everyone involved… riders, teams, fans and sponsors alike. It’s definitely a good time to be a dirt track racer.