Rob Cassar locked down his maiden ADRC Top Fuel Motorcycle Championship at the Hidden Valley Drag Strip in June, taking out the title over runner-up, Benny Stevens.
After securing the title with a round two win over Stevens, Cassar ensured he had his hands full when it came time to leave the Darwin facility by going on to also claim the Nitro Up North event victory with his nitrous-powered Ballistic Performance Parts Kawasaki.
It has been a highly successful season for the Victorian, with Cassar taking 2 event wins and 1 runners-up while also breaking through the six second barrier for the first time at the penultimate round of the season.
“I am really stoked to have clinched the title. It was a lot of driving on my own North, South, East and West!” Cassar said.
“I have dabbled in Group 1 racing over the last 10 years or so and never contested the championship. I thought I would give it a go and with a couple of wins and a runners-up I managed to do it.
“I still can’t believe it. I am the little engine that could!” he laughed.
Cassar’s newest title trophy now sits proudly alongside his 2019 Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Series Competition Bike Championship trophy.
His latest championship-winning season got off to a very strong start in the same place that it ended so successfully – Darwin’s Hidden Valley Drag Strip.
“The first round of the season at Darwin was a real highlight. I had never raced in Darwin at that point, the atmosphere was amazing, and I was lucky to take the win,” Cassar said.
“When it comes to my favourite race of the season, I have enjoyed so many of my races and have been lucky to go up against many of the best. I think my favourite race though would be the final against Greg Durack at that first event of the season, because it was so close, and I got the win.
“After claiming the title now and running my first six at Sydney, from here I will be focusing on improving my performance and getting further into the sixes.
“As far as defending the title goes, I am going to start at Tailem Bend in October and just see where the season takes me from there.”
Amongst a field dominated by nitro Harleys, Cassar’s Kawasaki is a giant-killer.
“I like racing my bike because I can race it in any of the bike classes. I can tune it up and tune it down,” Cassar explained.
“It also it works for me because I don’t need to rely on a large crew. Katie and I have raced at many meetings as just the two of us and we can manage, which makes our racing more flexible. Of course, we do love to have the extra help when we can!
“I may not be the fastest in Top Fuel Motorcycle, but my consistency helps along with some good lights here and there, and in this championship, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Cassar’s racing career has now stretched nearly 30 years.
“I started on the crew of Igor Krasnowski’s Pro Bike when I was just 14 years old. He was my neighbour, and I went to a few races with him and then I was hooked,” Cassar explains.
“I crewed for him until I was 21 and then Igor helped me build my first drag bike in 1996.
“I would compete in Modified Bike at the local rounds, where often in the first season I qualified at the back of the field. It wasn’t long though before I got the bug to set up nitrous on the second bike I purchased from Mark Geyde, a Top Fuel Motorcycle rider.
“I have had a few bikes over the years and lots of broken parts. I imported my current bike from the States in 2018 and it has been my favourite so far.
“Over the years I have continued to learn about nitrous and racing and improve my performance and in my opinion, it is the best sport in the world.”
Unsurprisingly, Cassar has a long list of people he would like to thank for the roles they have played in his winning year.
“There are just so many people to thank,” Cassar said.
“Obviously, I have to give a big thanks to my wife Katie for making it to all but one of the rounds, and also to my nephew, Shaun.
“I also want to thank my Sydney crew, Paul, Jake and Eric; and my Western Australian crew, Dale and Kevin Gummow, Peter Kleimsit, Dave Partington and Stuart Dean.
“I must also say a big thanks to Glen and Shona Wooster who drove my car and trailer to Perth in March when my father passed away.
“I also need to thank Igor for all of the machining work he has done throughout the season and Gavin Forbes for doing work in the early hours of a Sunday morning.
“I should also thank my sponsors – Ballistic Performance Parts, Powerplus Racing Fuels, Lucas Oils Australia, Denso Auto Parts and Shinko Tyres – who have supported me all season.
“And also, a final thank you to those who have helped me out across the season: Andrews Automotive, Forcewear, Cabworx and ABS Moorabbin.”
With the conclusion of this 2022/2023 season, Australia’s group one and sportsman racers now look ahead to a new era for Australian drag racing, with the new National Drag Racing Championship (NDRC) set to kick-off in July for the sportsman competitors and October for group one.