Every Year on Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June the Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs takes place. We have been lucky enough to be in Alice Springs during this weekend. Here you can read more about this crazy race through the desert and get Finked.
We arrive in Alice Springs on Thursday and it is already difficult to get a spot in a caravan park. We get a spot on an overflow area. The whole overflow area is completely packed with bikes, spare parts and many of the competitors and their friends are busy working on their bikes and getting prepared for the race. The mood is good and everybody is looking forward to the Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs.
Friday – Scrutineering
On Friday all the competitors bring their vehicles to the scrutineering and the officials check the specifications. It’s also the possibility to get really close to the vehicles and see the details. It’s impressive to see the huge number of participants and the variety in motorbikes, quads, buggies and cars. The entry fee for the scrutineering is AUD 15 (Price June 2014). If you don’t like to spend the AUD 15, you can also see the vehicles in other places. During the days before the race, many vehicles are presented in shopping malls and some of the shops in Alice Springs.
Saturday – Prologue of the Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs
On Saturday the action is on the sandy round course at the start/finish line outside of Alice Springs. All the participants have one lap on the round course. The time defines the starting position for the race.
The track is on sand and the best time is 4 minutes 59 seconds. It’s crazy how fast the buggies race around in the sand. After every car that is passing by, the wind is blowing a huge dust cloud over the spectators on the high stands. It’s loud, it’s dusty and it’s a lot of fun to watch.
There are many stalls with drinks, food and merchandising and you are allowed to walk around the race cars and motorbikes and can watch the mechanics working on the machines.
In the morning the cars are racing and in the afternoon, the motorbikes and quads have their go. The entry fee for the prologue is AUD 10.
Sunday – Alice Springs to Finke
On Sunday is the first race day. All the participants are racing on the race track from Alice Springs down along the Old South Road to Finke. The distance is 226 km and the fastest time for this distance is 1 hour 48 minutes.
There are different options to watch the race. The first 68 km down the Old South Road to Deep Well are open during the race so it is possible to drive there and leave again.
Further down the road beyond Deep Well, the road is closed during the race days, if you like to watch the race here, you need to camp along the race track, what is great fun.
We decided to drive right down to Finke after the Prologue because after the race we are heading south anyway. We found a nice camp spot along the race track just before Finke and camped there. There is a bypass road so we can leave whenever we want.
The most interesting places to watch the race cars and bikes racing by are around a crest, a bend or on a long flat part where they are going really fast. We have watched a few cars in one spot and then walked along the track to another interesting spot to see them in different situations. Be extremely careful if you cross the track because they are really fast.
It’s amazing to see how powerful the race cars are and how fast they race along the bumpy track. The suspensions have to work very hard and it’s a tough job for the drivers to keep the cars on the track. The entry fee is a gold coin donation only.
Monday – Finke to Alice Springs
On Monday, everybody is racing back from Finke to Alice Springs. In the evening there is a big presentation and party. The Finke Desert Race is one of the races of the Australian Off-Road Championship and the drivers are coming from all over Australia. We met some motorbike riders that came by ferry from Tasmania. It’s a really great event and you shouldn’t miss it if you happen to be around Alice Springs during that time.
After the Finke Desert Race many 4×4 enthusiasts are heading towards Dalhousie Springs to cross the Simpson Desert. So do we. Another adventure is ahead of us. Can’t wait go get there.