Finke Desert Race 2019- Crossed of the Bucket List- (for this year!)

Finke there and back !

2019 Finke winners - Congratulations to Jack Rhodes & David Pullino

Well the red dust has settled and I can reflect upon my first photographic adventure of the iconic Tatts Finke Desert race, Alice Springs in Winter!!

Runners up for 2019 – Josh Howells and Eric Hume.

A couple of memories will stay with me forever, firstly, how cold the center of Australia can get! Minus 2 degrees greeted you of a morning and it didn’t get much warmer during the day! Secondly, how bright the stars can actually be when you venture further away from built up areas. I camped for the first night at Winton Qld and, due to nature’s call, had to leave the tent (as you do!). As I stepped outside I was visually assaulted by how bright the night sky was, in particular the Milky way. Even half asleep it was spectacular!

The distance/drive can be daunting but I enjoyed the journey and let the destination be the reward.

There is a thing called ‘Finke Fever’.  I definitely had the impression that, for the competitors at least, it was the Holy Grail, if not to win, then to be able to say “I competed in the Finke”. Better yet “I made the finish!” This was reflected in the numbers competing on both 2 and 4 wheels – 150 vehicles and over 600 Bike or Quads.

The street party in the town centre on Thursday night kicked things off. My lasting impression was how many people idolize Toby Price and appreciate his achievements. He accommodated every photo request, autographed a never ending array of items and just the man’s honest approach to his fame was refreshing to see.

Next came Saturday morning ‘s Prologue, to determine the crucial starting order for the race to Finke.  This can be critical in determining how much dust or sand you have to eat the next day.

As the cars do their sighting lap, the sun comes up it and it offered great opportunities for us photographers.

Golden minutes for us photographers!

Not a good start to the weekend for some !

Finke is pretty basic.  It’s a Sunday Race to Finke a Monday Race back to Alice.  But in between there is 220km’s of sand, lumps and surprises waiting to catch you out and wreck your Finke experience.  So treat it with respect or it will bite you, as my drive back to town on Sunday showed, with broken vehicles evenly spaced within the first 35kms back to town.

Cold and Early starts were the order for the day!

 

Desert Glamour !

Heading South on Sunday.

Fairy tales are nice when they happen but Toby Price will have to wait another year for his 4-wheel dream to come true.  Even a 7-minute head start cannot guard against the track or mechanical gremlins. For Jack Rhodes and David Pullino, two second and two third places were finally rewarded with the top step of the podium. This didn’t look likely after prologue, where Jack rolled his buggy and started the race to Finke in 14th Place.

Toby Leading the way to Finke on Sunday.

Sunday – Race to Finke.

Prologue  – Saturday.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the Finke experience and I am already thinking about next year.  Lastly, if the Famous Finke Desert race is on your bucket list, take some advice – do it!

Finally the Top step for winners Jack Rhodes and David Pullino.

 

Words and Pictures
Terry Hill