American Flat Track (AFT) announcer Scottie Deubler and Chris Carter run the popular flat track podcast “Off the Groove,” and talk dirt track racing every week for an audience of thousands. So when we wanted to talk fast females like Nichole Mees and Shayna Texter, we knew who to call.
These days, more women than ever before are getting involved in flat track racing, and much of that trend is due to two of the most highly visible and highly successful women racers ever – Nicole Cheza Mees and Shayna Texter. At amateur races across the country, more females are showing up to race the guys, and there’s even a women’s class in international flat track racing.
But it’s Cheza Mees and Texter, in particular, who’ve boosted interest and excitement in the sport.
Cheza Mees pretty much led the way in dirt track racing, competing in the GNC1 class in the AMA Grand National Championship and doing well enough that she was the 2003 AMA Female Rider of the Year. Very simply, the woman is a badass. She worked out harder than her husband – current factory Indian Twins rider and five-time Grand National Champ Jared Mees – and shined when tracks weren’t perfect, outriding many of the guys. If she crashed she got right back up. Badass.
While she’s now retired and Mom to young daughter Hayden, she continues working within the sport as the co-promoter for the Lima, Ohio Half-Mile every summer along with husband Jared. She’s meticulous in her preparation for the legendary Lima event, and the one behind the scenes making sure everything goes smoothly at that hugely exciting race.
And then there’s Shayna Texter – the winningest AFT Singles rider in history – who’s now carrying the torch for every fast female in dirt track racing. She’s both talented and fearless, and we always expect her to be out front as one of the top riders in the top-level AFT Singles class. Shayna, who’s part of the Red Bull KTM factory team again in 2020, is a consummate professional, someone the entire series looks to. That happens when you win races against some of the fastest male riders in the world, and she’s done that on many occasions. Texter has done for flat track what Danica Patrick did for IndyCar and NASCAR, and she’s an example young girls can look up to.
She’s a hell of a rider, and not just because she’s small and on good equipment. She was a very good rider before she had top-notch equipment. My favorite race I’ve ever announced was in Knoxville, Iowa back in 2011. She had a horrible start that night, and went back and forth with now-boyfriend (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. That was the night she won her first Grand National race.
Of course, when talking about women in flat track, we’ve got to mention Tammy Jo Kirk. She was the first woman to hold a national number and grabbed the best finish by a woman (at the time) at Du Quoin, Illinois in 1986, later leaving flat track to race NASCAR. Then there’s Diane Cox who was the first woman to advance beyond an entry level AMA Pro Racing Flat Track License in 1974. And there are others surrounding the sport today, such as Michelle Disalvo, who was the second woman to hold a national number and who went on to work as Factory Indian rider Briar Bauman’s mechanic.
Cox, Kirk, and Disalvo opened the door. Mees walked boldly through it, and Texter is continuing the tradition. More women than ever are throwing down on dirt ovals across the country, so if you’re a female who wants to ride, stop thinking about it and go do it. And bring three more women with you!