Finke Desert Race 2010

Car no 70, going for broke close to the finish

Alice Springs comes alive during the cooler winter months, and the annual Finke Desert Race is one of its many attractions.  It is a gruelling event, stretching some 229km from Alice Springs to Apatula Community on the Sunday, then returning to Alice on the Monday of the June long weekend.  The race crosses the Finke River, believed to be the oldest river in the world.  To travel this track at a cautious pace in a 4WD is challenging enough, but to race across it at breakneck speed is mindboggling.  This year the number of motorcycle entrants was limited to 500.  This surprised me, because I thought you’d have trouble finding 100 suicidal maniacs to enter the event, let alone 500!  Seventy or so 4-wheeled entrants also entered the event.  I hesitate to call them cars, as they resembled something you’d more likely see in a Mad Max movie.

It was a crisp Monday morning as I prepared to head out to the start/finish area to see the survivors come home.  As I was leaving, Nirbeeja said “Don’t come back a bogan”.  I’m afraid the figurative horse had already bolted, as my race-day attire consisted of tracky dacs, flannelette shirt and beanie!  Oh well, I guess I looked the part, and it was cool after all.

 Unfortunately, I missed the return of the leading cars, but those I watched provided plenty of entertainment.  These guys certainly know how to hurl a vehicle around a dirt track.  The suspension set-ups on these vehicles had to be seen to be believed.

Not a bad suspension set-up!

I was there to watch the leading bike riders come home.  To put it mildly, these guys are amazing.  Close to 500kms and they were still hanging their bikes around every corner.  I heard the winner, Toby Price, interviewed minutes after he finished the race and he sounded as though he had just been for a gentle stroll. He wouldn’t have blown out a candle!  These guys are super-competitive but there is also a great sporting spirit and camaraderie in the race. On Sunday one rider came off his bike and was knocked unconscious.   The next rider, who was highly placed at the time, came across the other rider lying on the track.  He stopped his bike, helped administer first aid to the injured rider, ensured he would be okay, then helped carry him away from danger.  Only when he knew the other rider was okay did he jump back on his bike and resume his race.  I can’t imagine too many Formula One drivers stop to help an injured rival, can you?

Toby Price, motorcycle winner.

Hope you enjoy the photos.

Peter  14 June 2010

Click on the following links to watch short videos I shot at the race:



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