Meet the Riders: Barry ‘the Punk’ Stevenson - From Drifting to Dirt Track
Ask anyone what makes the DTRA so unique, and there’s a good chance that they’ll mention the types of people that race. There truly is no ‘typical’ dirt track rider; our club members come from all kinds of backgrounds, and have each taken their own journey into the world of dirt track racing. At any race meeting you can find tilers, photographers, barristers and roofers hanging out with engineers, artists, farmers and magazine editors. Some of our riders have evolved into flat track racers via BMX, motocross, or car racing; others are complete newbies to any kind of racing or extreme sport, but they’re giving it their all anyway.
We thought it’s time to shine a light on the characters that make the DTRA as interesting as it is, and give you a more personal introduction to some of our riders. First up is one of the most distinctive members of our club, Barry ‘the Punk’ Stevenson (#299), a towering Scotsman with a huge smile and a determination to match - last year, Barry travelled solo all the way from Edinburgh to his first ever flat track round, the 2018 DTRA season opener in King’s Lynn. He finished the season placing a very respectable 7th overall in Rookie class, and made a promising start in Thunderbikes.
We asked Barry to tell us more about how he discovered flat track racing and the DTRA, his first impressions of racing, and his ambitions for his second season. He’s got an interesting story to tell, and if you’ve ever met Barry in person, you’ll know that he’s got plenty more stories where this one came from...
I’m Barry, I’m 33 years old and from Edinburgh, where I work as a commercial refrigeration engineer. Before getting into flat track racing, I competed nationally with drifting. I had a Toyota KE70 V8 competition car which I used in Drift Cup and the Retro Drift Challenge.
I decided to have a break from drifting at the end of 2016 to focus on bikes. I had taken an interest in flat track when I saw a video of Mike Hill of Survivor Customs (and DTRA racer #35) sliding a bike around a horse paddock and thought, “that looks awesome!”.
The video that started it all - by Tom Bing.
I decided to investigate further to see what the scene was like in the UK, and so discovered the DTRA racing series. This was when decided to shift my focus to flat track. After competing in drifting for 10 years, I fancied a new challenge - time for a change!
I found out about Champions Flat Track School, run by Pete Boast, and immediately booked a Level 1 course. I absolutely loved it and went back for Level 2. I knew then that it was definitely what I wanted to be involved with.
I started looking for my own bike and my timing couldn’t have been better - a Rotax Thunderbike had just come up for sale on one of the flat track pages on Facebook. I travelled down to Tamworth to pick it up. When I got it home, I began to do little bits of work to make sure it was ready for me to race in the 2018 DTRA season.
Doing this work put me in touch with Mike Hill, he built a new subframe for me which I then fitted to the bike. I thought it was funny that it was his video that got me interested in flat track and then there I was, getting parts from him!
Fortunately, I’m used to bikes, I’ve had bikes for years, so I was aware of the basic gear I would need. I could see what a lot of people were wearing in videos and found some basic kit to start, which I added to as the year went on. It wasn’t always smooth sailing and having a few spills made me realise where I needed additional protection...
On the lead up to the season I pestered loads of current DTRA riders on Instagram with daft questions and asking for pointers with setting up my bike. After doing the drifting for so long set up wasn’t an issue; I was used to tweaking and testing as I went, so I applied much the same approach with the Rotax.
I had ZERO expectations going into my first racing season! I just wanted to have a good time, enjoy myself and hopefully improve my skills. Up until Round 1 I had only been on the bike once – on a soaking wet track at Buxton. I figured if I could improve through the season and have fun, I would have accomplished what I wanted.
Overall, my first season was amazing experience. Riding in Rookies and Thunderbike really helped me progress my riding. I felt by the round at Greenfield Oval everything was coming together for me, it was all starting to click into place. I’m struggling to choose a favourite round from last year, but I really enjoyed the Greenfield TT, and Ammanford, because it was super fast!
I’m looking forward to building on the foundations I set in the first season. I finished 7th overall in Rookies which I was so pleased with. I feel it’ll give me a solid start this year.
I’m so pleased to have got involved with the DTRA. It’s such a great club, full of fantastic and passionate people, I couldn’t ask for a better group of folk to go racing with. I feel I’ve made some solid friends and I’ve truly valued their support and advice. The relaxed atmosphere in the pits isn’t something I’ve seen in any other motorsport. It really makes it inclusive for everyone.
My goals for this year are to continue to improve and ultimately get on the podium. I can’t wait for the season to start!
Thank you for the excellent blog post Barry, we’re glad to have you racing with us too and wish you - and all of our riders - the very best of luck for the 2019 season, whether you’re racing in the Nationals or have joined our new Euros championship. Don’t forget to follow the progress of our season here on the blog, and over on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
Pictures by Tom Bing and Ian Osborne.