Cory Texter: One Final Mission

Following a lifetime spent in the paddock and now at the top of his game, reigning Mission Production Twins presented by Vance & Hines champion Cory Texter recently announced that the 2022 Progressive American Flat Track season would be his last as a full-time professional racer.

But before he focuses on the next chapter of his life, Texter is dedicated to an all-in defense of his #1 plate. That bid got off to a bit of a rocky start in this past weekend’s Mission Volusia Half-Mile where he finished an uncharacteristic seventh. The G&G Racing Yamaha star hadn’t suffered a worse result going all the way back to the ‘19 finale, in which he narrowly secured his maiden Progressive AFT title by cruising to the line in ninth after mechanical issues knocked him out of the lead with just two laps remaining.

Despite the early-season setback, Texter doesn’t come across as overly bothered. If anything, it puts him right back in a familiar position. The Pennsylvanian has long considered himself overlooked and underestimated, while framing his recent era success as one of hard work and determination trumping sheer talent.

That underdog veneer had seemingly been shattered by his overwhelming success since 2019, but one seventh-place finish was all it took to glue that mentality back into place.

“Even after this first round, I see a lot of stuff… other riders talking,” Texter said. “How crazy quick that people forget. I personally think I'm the guy to beat, but if you ask the majority of people, especially after this past weekend, they probably already have someone else picked.

“You're only as good as your last race. Look at the Lakers. They just won the NBA title two years ago and everybody rips on them for how bad they are.”

While Texter was once fueled by slights, he’s evolved past that form of motivation, even if he still recognizes their existence.

“Going into last season, I knew how good we were with our program," he said. "I was really looking forward to the season. I was stoked to see Dalton (Gauthier) and (Dan) Bromley move into the class. I like racing against good competition and having the clout of two former Singles champions was definitely really motivating for me.

“At the end of the year, I remember driving back from Sacramento after I won the championship. My wife was driving through the desert, and I was just lying at the back of the van exhausted with my #1 plate. I put so much into the  season.

“Personally, I know where I'm at, and I feel good. The team is the same. If anything, I think we're better than we were last year. I don't really care what people think. I used to let it bother me a lot more, but once you've reached that level of confidence in yourself, it doesn't really matter what anybody else thinks.

“This past weekend. I got seventh, but I went to bed fine that night and woke up the next morning and was fine. I gave it max effort, and that's all I can do. You can't stress on things that aren't in your control or what others think. You just have to do what you think is right and move forward from there.”

Considering his form and confidence, it’s only natural to wonder why he’d walk away now, especially after fighting and clawing his way for decades to attain this type of week-in, week-out success.

There’s a misconception that Texter timed his retirement alongside that of the Mission Production Twins category he’s reigned over, as it’s slated to merge into the premier class in 2023.

The reality is his plans predated any talk of a class restructuring. He explained, “Anything after 2019 for me has been a bonus. I've always been a mid-pack guy and struggling with rides. I never got the opportunities that I would have liked throughout my career, for whatever reason. It's not for lack of effort. I've called more people and sent more emails than probably anybody in the sport trying to get good rides.

“I won that championship in 2019 and I never thought I'd hold a #1 plate over my head. To grow up in this sport and win a championship was amazing. And then we finished runner-up in 2020, but at the end of the year, I was like, ‘Damn, I feel good. Let's go again in 2021.’

“I really thought about 2021 being my final year. Even in Sacramento, I was kind of emotional after I won because I thought that might be it. And then I didn't make an announcement, and the schedule came out, and sponsors called me to come back. I waited too long (to make the announcement)... Good opportunities got placed in my lap, and I really liked the schedule this year; we're going back to Rapid City and Castle Rock. I was like, ‘Well, I want to hit those events.’

“But I knew I didn’t want to race motorcycles forever. I'm riding as good as I've ever ridden. I train with all the younger kids, and I whoop their (butts) when we go training. I feel good as far as my fitness. But there are just other things I want to do.

“There's so much more to Cory Texter than just the racer. I think I could realistically race into my mid-forties, easily, but there are other things I want to do. And I want to spend more time with my family.”

In fact, Texter’s fear wasn’t racing in Mission SuperTwins but rather that the prospect might tempt him back for another go-round.

“There was part of me that was hoping they'd combine the classes this year. I look at lap times. I ride with these top guys a lot. I train with Briar (Bauman) and Brandon Robinson and Jarod Vanderkooi. I know my speed is there.

“One of my biggest goals in my career is to win a SuperTwins race. I've finished on the podium twice, but I’ve never won. So part of me was hoping they would combine it, but financially and politically, part of me wanted it to stay Production Twins at the same time.

“None of that had anything to do with my decision to retire. Anybody that thinks otherwise, they can just look at my career. I've done the journeyman, privateer SuperTwins thing for over a decade, and I've been successful. It's kind of why I made the decision early in the year. I made that decision before I even saw how the Yamahas and Indians stacked up on the track because I didn't want any of that to be a deciding factor for me.

“Otherwise, I could have easily gotten sucked into another year and another year and another year. Before I knew it, I'd be 43 and still racing in circles.”

While one lifetime in the paddock is nearing its conclusion, another is just beginning. Texter’s four year-old son, Cruise, is proving to be a dirt track prodigy himself and one that’s already attracted more than 200,000 followers on TikTok.

Texter said, “It was eye-opening this offseason. I was trying to train and put laps in, while my wife, Amber, was over with Cruise at the kids' track. I was running back and forth between my motos. I'd do a 30-minute moto and then run over in my gear as soon as I was done to help him on the practice track. I was like ‘Damn, this is tougher than I thought.’

“Cruise has shown an incredible amount of talent, and he loves to ride. He's been riding since he was two – he was literally riding motorcycles and racing when he was still in diapers. But it's a fine line making sure we don't burn him out. Because at the end of the day he's four years old. Keeping him awake just to race his Main Event is tough sometimes. He's so young.

“So yeah, that whole pee-wee dad is definitely challenging. I'm a really bad mechanic. We did our first Winter Nationals at Bike Week this year, and I found out quick that we're a little down on power for his bike. I've been spending all my free time googling and making calls to Yamaha trying to figure out how to get his bike faster and still be legal.

“I have fun with it, but it's a different challenge for me.”

Another fine line is supporting his son’s development as a racer and as a person without dictating the path himself.

Texter said, “I don't care (if Cruise ultimately decides to pursue racing as a career). I'd like to do other stuff. I've been around the racetrack my whole life. And sitting around the amateur races it was like, ‘Damn, I thought we'd be going boating when I retired, but we're already back at the track all day!’

“I would do other things; he naturally picked up racing, obviously. He's been around me, Shayna (Texter-Bauman), Briar, Max Whale, Jarod Vanderkooi, Brandon Robinson, and Trent Lowe his whole life. He eats, sleeps, and breathes around the best in the world, so it's like it's just naturally what he does.

“But if he wants to do something else, hell yeah, let's do it. I don't care what he does, I just want him to put 100% into whatever that is. If he wants to be a synchronized swimmer, we're going to put in the effort and learn discipline with it, and try and be great at it. It's his call. It's his choice.

“There are some days we go to the track and he puts on his gear and does one lap and he's done. We don't force him to ride. It's on him. He got a couple podium finishes at Winter Nationals. There's a pretty funny picture from the podium – it's him and these two older kids. He's standing there in third place holding his trophy all pissed off while the other kids are there smiling and happy. He was upset he got third. It's pretty cool to see that competitiveness already for a four-year-old.”

Beyond his role as a pee-wee dad and aspiring mechanic, there’s still the possibility that Texter will maintain an active presence in the Progressive AFT paddock for the foreseeable future as well.

“I don't know exactly what I'm going to do. I promote races and I enjoy that, and I do my podcast, which is fun. As long as I'm enjoying it, and I feel appreciated, I'll stay involved in the paddock. I help out some of the younger riders; I've been training Trent Lowe and I've been training an up-and-coming amateur named Evan Renshaw, who won the majority of his races during Bike Week, which was really satisfying for me. So yeah, I'd like to stay involved – maybe help manage a team, maybe be an agent for some of these younger riders, and try to get some new sponsors involved.

“There's a lot of things I'd like to do, but it's got to make sense for me. I feel I've got a lot of value within the sport. I feel I can definitely help a team or help some riders. But at the end of the day it's got to make sense for me to do and take time away from other things.

“I love motorcycle racing. I definitely want to stay involved within motorcycles, and if it can be in flat track, then cool. I have a lot of knowledge in that department. I'd love to help keep the sport growing.”

But first, Texter still has unfinished business behind the controls of his G&G Racing Yamaha MT-07.

Goal #1 is winning the 2022 Mission Production Twins crown.

“Trying to juggle both my season and Cruise’s is going to be challenging. I've gotta figure out a way to balance that and still be successful as a racer. I'm all into the pro stuff this year. I put in a really good offseason, and I know I'm capable of winning again. I’ve just got to go out there and do my job.”

Goal #2 is that elusive Mission SuperTwins Main. And he might just get a shot at it before he retires thanks to the introduction of the Mission Production Twins Challenge. Or not.

“As of right now, my team is not interested in doing the Challenge," he said. "If I earn a spot, I don't know if we'll participate. But toward the end of the year, at the right track, if our times are there, maybe I can convince the guys to let me go out there and do it.

“It was cool to see the Production Twins guys do well in the SuperTwins Main at Volusia. I'm not surprised. People think the SuperTwins guys are head and shoulders above the Production riders, but like I've said, we’ve got a stacked class.

“And I think what you saw was, the track was technical, it was rough. And Production Twins has a lot of hungry guys in that class. In SuperTwins, there are a few guys who, if the track gets rough, they'll save it for next week… kind of like what I did. ‘This isn't my track. I'm going to do the best I can and get seventh.’ Well, I think I could have gotten seventh in SuperTwins too. There are guys in my class, especially at a track like that, that are a little bit more 'sendy' than the majority of the SuperTwins guys, and I think you saw that last weekend.”

Goal #3 is to one day line up at a professional race alongside Cruise. So it seems Texter may in fact be destined to be in his mid-forties and still racing in circles.

The first step in all of that is a rebound performance in front of his sponsors at this weekend’s Mission Texas Half-Mile presented by Roof Systems. The last time he raced at Texas Motor Speedway, Texter made history, joining sister Shayna in becoming the first siblings to win Progressive AFT Main Events on the same evening, while also kicking off the amazing run of success that he’s enjoyed ever since.

The venue holds a special place in Texter’s memories for another reason as well.

“I love Texas. Texas is a good racetrack and it’s been good to me. It's memorable because of Jon Reid, who was my mechanic and my best friend and who passed away in an automobile accident at the end of the 2019 season. That Texas trip, me and him, we drove there in a pickup truck. I slept in the passenger side of his pickup, and I gave him the victory lap after we won.

“There's definitely good memories because of that trip I made with Jon. At that point in my career, I had nothing. It was a very low point. But I could feel the win coming. I always knew what I could do on the right equipment. I think I qualified like fourth, and my guys were asking what we could do to be better. And I said, ‘'Nah, we're good. Trust me.'

“I remember lining up for the Main and looking over at Jon, and I said, 'I'm going to kick their asses.'

“I felt really confident about that. Texas has always been good to me, but it's never easy. Like I said many times before, I have a lot of respect for the guys I race with, and they are going to bring it. They are hungry.

“And if this the last year of Production Twins, a lot of those guys are going to want a #1 plate for their wall. It's just as motivating for me to not have anybody else win it as it is for me to win it myself.”