One of the last remaining pro barriers was finally cracked at Sydney Dragway on May 4, 2019 when Queensland’s Luke Crowley recorded the first six second pass by a Pro Bike in Australia.
Crowley’s pass of 6.903 at 193.77mph was the quickest and fastest ever seen in this country from a naturally aspirated bike on two wheels.
The six second run has been on the minds of Pro Bike teams for over a decade, ever since Daniel Peatey ran 7.09 in 2006.
Crowley has been one of the favourites to hit the six first, with multiple trips to the USA to race and learn from the quickest naturally aspirated motorcycle teams in the world.
Coming into Gulf Western Oil Nitro Thunder, Crowley had his mind elsewhere, attending the funeral of his grandfather the day before the event began.
“Lucky for myself in some ways, there was no way I would have been able to make a run on Friday even if the weather was clear, as on Friday morning I was in Brisbane saying my final goodbyes to my late grandfather – possibly my greatest supporter,” he said. “He loved to see and hear how well I had done with everything in life, and not just my racing. I know that he was up there watching and at times maybe helping me stop the bike in the very trying conditions of the Sydney Dragway braking area.”
Arriving on Friday night, Crowley began his preparations on not just his own bikes but also those of Ryan Learmonth and Daniel Rabnott. The trio have a set up a team of sorts to share resources and produce some quick times.
“My first job was to check on both my team mates’ bikes and ensure we were all 100% prepared for what lay ahead,” Crowley said.
“Wiseguy Racing and Ryan Learmonth had been working their butts off back home on the one percenters I knew would considerably help them go faster than their January PB. That turned things on from the get go with a 7.22, 7.13, and a 7.07 rolling off early in the final to take the win and all that data to continue to go forward even faster at the Winters next month.
“Then my good mate Daniel Rabnott from NDR Racing was back running his smaller cube motor for maybe the last time. With a few hiccups first up when it wouldn’t as much as even start we got it running and sounding on song and a 7.44 was no slouch. Unfortunately I over looked something and he kept hurting clutch plates late in every run but we now have the cure and can’t wait to unleash it in a few weeks time.
“As much as I enjoy my own racing I really love to help these guys and also a new team mate that’s coming back from retirement very soon, Scott White.”
Crowley had his own issues to contend with but was positive a new direction would pay dividends.
“My long time best mate and dedicated crew chief of 10 years, Andrew, had spent the rainy day to fit up the bike and have it race ready and from the first start up it was on. We both knew we had the horsepower and the bike to make something happen on that day.
“I had gone in a whole new direction with clutch setup, as I had been down a long path that wasn’t showing us what we were looking for. The 7.6 on the check out run was no surprise, but we needed it to start with and go from the data for the next few runs.
“We had some gains but the original issue was still showing its ugly head, until my good friend Blaze Hansen came and ran his eyes over it also. We came up with a quick fix and then after our 7.55 against Daniel’s 7.56 we decided to throw everything we could at it and see if it would stick on the last pass.”
Crowley and team were thrashing just to make it to the line for the final.
“We were busting our butts in the pit while we heard the first run of Pro Bike go down the track. We were still putting the clutch cover on and I was quickly swapping my helmet visor so I could see.
“Blaze and Andrew had the bike ready to roll in a big hurry to the start line. We came through the crowd at speed and pushed straight into the water box as my guys Ryan and Daniel held up the officials so I could make the call. I was so grateful for the efforts of these guys and their teams.
“Ryan’s dad Glen was ready to start my bike and Trevor Birrell was helping too as we quickly checked the rear tyre pressure, which gave me a minute to compose and not think.
“Pulling up to the beams we were hoping for any kind of result. On the drop of the clutch the dang thing left like never before. From that second I knew it was motoring. I hit every shift within 50-100 rpm and it was an absolute pleasure to ride (until the braking area).
“I wasn’t even thinking it was a six, but I was pumping my fist because it finally got done the track like we have wanted to for four years. I pull up and can hear the other boys yelling out and then it dawned on me. I just created history!
“As I’m pushing my bike off the track there were two butterflies flying about and I knew I had two special onlookers. I then got to celebrate in style with all these blokes we race with and against in the deep end, with tears a plenty and cheers.
“Thanks to everyone that has rang, messaged, commented and sent positive vibes. I’m so grateful and humbled. To my guys Andrew Budgeon, also known as Budge, I wouldn’t be racing had this guy not kept pushing me.
“To Mr Rocket RLR Rhett Lougheed, for all you have done and developed on these motors – truly incredible.
“My mentor Craig Thompson for always bouncing ideas and the long hours helping me keep these engines in the best shape possible, I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for me and showed me in the last 10 odd years – absolute champion.
“Blaze and Gavin Hansen for always making me think outside the box and proving to me it’s possible and the countless hours of fabricating over the years on this rocket ship.
“NDR Racing, thank you Neil, Ash and Daniel, for getting my bike there and back safely and always supporting me – oh and the beers. Ryan and Glen Learmonth and crew, what an awesome bunch of guys to race with. Glenn Wooster and team, what a killer run snapping on our heels. And the master bake potato chef Jenny, thank you
“Now to see what we all can do in four weeks time. I can’t wait.”