Keith Kassulke will make an emotional motor racing return this weekend just six months after a life threatening incident at Phillip Island.
The Touring Car Masters regular will jump behind the wheel of the #91 MARC Focus in the Queensland Racing Drivers Championship meeting at Queensland Raceway.
His return to racing comes after he sustained severe third degree burns on the right side of his body and face when his Ascari KZ1R GT3 caught fire during a Victorian State Circuit Racing Championship round last October.
Kassulke was only released from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital three days before Christmas, having previously spent three weeks in intensive care at Melbourne’s Royal Alfred Hospital.
Despite the horrendous incident, Kassulke has been eager to return to competitive action this year.
Since the start of the year he has undergone further surgery on his eye which has improved his vision, while undertaking daily courses of physiotherapy.
The native Queenslander’s preparations have been aided by time behind the wheel at the Performance Driving Centre on the Gold Coast last week.
“I’m very excited about it,” Kassulke told Speedcafe.com of his racing return.
“(Because) the incident at Phillip Island wasn’t a racing incident where there was contact or a crash, it hasn’t dimmed my appetite for racing.
“It is just over six months since the incident and as you can imagine it has been a pretty tough period.
“Thinking back, I wonder how I did get through all of that. It was pretty bad but I have got through it.
“I’m getting pretty fit now. I thought about getting back in the car a couple of weeks ago.
“I was a little bit apprehensive but I jumped in one of the Driving Centre cars at Norwell last week and did some laps at speed and there was nothing wrong with that.”
While excited to be back racing, Kassulke says he still faces a long road to recovery with the first of a series of plastic surgeries planned later this year.
“My skin is repairing remarkably well. The burns doctor told me he was amazed by how my recovery is going,” said Kassulke.
“I’ve still got a long way to go. The doctor says I cannot begin any plastic surgery until October.
“I reckon I will have a year of surgery next year but it will all come good.”
Kassulke is aiming to compete in the Australian Endurance Championship event at Phillip Island next month and the Creventic Endurance Series’ Paul Ricard 24 Hour in July.
He will undergo a medical examination next week in order to update his CAMS licence which is required to compete at the event held at the scene of the terrible incident.
“Going back there (Phillip Island) might be different. I’m going to do it and get through that. It is just a mental thing,” Kassulke added.