Passport? Check. FIM license? Check. Steel shoe? Check. Early this week, Shayna Texter will fly to Barcelona to compete alongside fellow Americans Brad Baker, Jared Mees, and Kenny Noyes—and more than 40 mostly European racers, including two-time MotoGP champ Marc Marquez—in Saturday’s Superprestigio dirt-track invitational.
How did Texter earn a spot in the Superprestigio’s Open class? Spain is very supportive of female racers. Laia Sanz, for example, is a many-time women’s world trials and enduro champion. She wanted to participate in the Superprestigio but is committed to the Dakar Rally. Roadracer Maria Herrera, who finished second in the 2014 FIM CEV Repsol Championship, will make the leap next season to the Moto3 World Championship. Both are household names in Spain.
Likewise, Texter has an impressive racing résumé. Three years ago, she became the first woman to win an AMA Pro Flat Track main event, the Knoxville Half-Mile. The 23-year-old Pennsylvania native has since racked up a total of eight national victories, six in Pro Singles and two in Pro Twins, plus the 2009 AMA Hot Shoe Pro Twins and 2012 AMA All-Stars Pro Singles titles. This past season, Texter completed her rookie season in Expert Twins (now GNC1), with a best finish of 12th at the Lima Half-Mile.
Texter expressed two concerns about racing on the 200-meter clay oval in the 13,500-seat Palau Sant Jordi stadium: 1) the unique motocross-style starting gate; and 2) her inability to kick-start a 450cc MXer, even one lowered for flat track. With a field as deep and talented as this one, a stalled engine in one of the two heat races could end her night.
“I started my bike once, when I was really mad,” the five-foot-tall, 95-pound Texter said with a laugh. “I’m just too small.” In comparison, reigning AMA Pro Grand National Champion Mees looks like an NFL linebacker.
Like Mees, Texter has no experience with the Superprestigio’s spec 17-inch Michelin rain tires. A few hours of practice with the other riders at Marquez’s private track on Thursday will help. Texter is bringing her own handlebar, exhaust pipe, and suspension for her Honda CRF450R loaner bike.
Can Texter hold her own against the big boys in Spain? We’ll find out Saturday night. One thing is certain: Once she pulls on her helmet, gender goes out the window.