top of page

Birtwistle To Do Daytona

The reigning UK DTRA Pro singles and twins champion, Gary Birtwistle, is heading to Florida to compete in the opening round of the 2023 American Flat Track season at Daytona. He has set up a deal with Jeffrey Carver for bikes and mentoring. Birtwistle will be the first Brit to race in AFT since Oliver Brindley's forced retirement in 2019.

We got more details from both Gary and Jeffrey about partnership. First a Q&A with Gary B.

You're racing Daytona Singles! How and when did that opportunity come about?

I can hardly believe it myself! It has always been a dream of mine to race in America. The idea came about when Jefferey raced over here in the UK [September last year]. I was really inspired that I had the pace that day to stick with him. I guess that gave me the confidence to try and give it a go. I reached out to a few people back in December to try and source a bike, I even thought about shipping my 450 over. Then I spoke to Jeffrey and everything seemed to just click between us. He was as excited as me to make this happen, so we made some plans and here we are.

Whose bike are you racing and what bike is it?

The bikes are Jefferey Carver's personal bikes, both Husqvarna 450s. I'm bringing my suspension and a few other parts with me to put on one bike and we will have his suspension on the second. Hopefully this will give us a few options to test and find what works best.

What is Jeffrey Carver's input?

We are racing under the 'Happy Trails Racing' banner, so Jefferey is the team manager. He has put our whole two-week programme together from preparing the bikes to scheduling practice sessions. He has worked incredibly hard to make this happen. He is a world class rider and coach with a lot of experience so I'm definitely in good hands.

How difficult is it to get an entry, as someone who hasn't raced in the US before?

It wasn't too difficult but I think it depends on your experience. You have to provide a list of credentials and results, I spoke to a few US contacts first and they figured with my achievements in the DTRA I would be accepted.

Are you planning to race any of the pre-AFT events that happen in the run-up?

I'm hopefully racing a clay half-mile the week before, probably not the best Daytona simulation but another great experience for me.

How are you preparing, physically and research wise?

It's hard to ride flat track over here this time of year so lately I've been doing a lot of trail riding just to get bike fit. I've had a bit of an injury, but now I'm back training, running, cycling, and some circuit training. For research I've watched a lot of videos of past races at Daytona short track trying to see how the track changes through the night and what styles and tactics seem to pay off.

The singles class is so fast right now. What results are you hoping for, what will you regard as a success?

Yeah the depth of field is pretty crazy. For me it's important to enjoy this experience and I'm ready to be humble and hopefully learn a thing or two. Having said that, if I could make the main event I would be stoked!

Have you spoken to any of the other Brits who've been over to the US in the past for advice?

I have spoken a lot with Derek Brindley , he has helped me a lot. Also my brother Alan [from UK champ and second overall in 2023] who made quite a few trips to the states back in the day. I've heard horror stories about the track getting cut up and slick. It can't be much worse than a hot day at Rye House, right?

If anyone wants to help with sponsorship, how do they get in touch?

If anybody wants to help us out that would be amazing they can contact me at or reach out to Jefferey Carver at

I've got some sticker spaces on my helmet if anybody wants to support this dream.

Anything else you want to add?

Just a big thanks to Jefferey for being so forthcoming and helping make this happen. Thanks to the AMA and AFT for getting my licence sorted and allowing me to race.

Jeffrey Carver adds: 'Going into 2023 my goal was to race the full AFT circuit again, events happen and I suffered a severe injury in December 2022.

'Acknowledging my position in life I have decided to step back from racing AFT for 2023 to allow my body to heal properly. In the process of this new shift Gary had reached out looking for support to come race the first two rounds AFT. For me, it has been a dream to support riders from other countries to come race in America after my flat track school “Happy Trails Racing” has taken me around the world sharing my gifts.

'I won’t be on the bike this time but I will be casting my spells to give Gary the best opportunity to live out his dreams!'

#23, Carver, #11, Birtwistle, on the Greenfield track when they first met at the DTRA finale of 2023

Action photos: Braking Point Images


bottom of page