First the Grand Prix, now Finke. What’s next V8 Supercars? Well, now that you mention it … they are on in Darwin next week. Of course, I wouldn’t go to Darwin just for the cars, but it is warm up there ….
We arrived in Alice Springs last Wednesday after spending a week tooling around the East MacDonnell Ranges. I hear that NT Tourism has nominated the West MacDonnell Ranges as the 8th Wonder of the World. That’s next on our list, but it will have to go a long way to beat the East Macs!
The plan was to get the car checked out in Alice, then head down to Finke for that end of the race. We were out here after all, and it would be rude not to watch!
Doc was here 10 years ago and has friends in Alice, who just happen to be involved in organizing the race. Of course we were under instructions to call them to say hello, then with typical outback hospitality they asked us to stay, and took us under their wing in all things Finke.
Helen’s idea of sport is pretty much the same as mine – it must involve a ball, though we differ in the shape of the ball. I love my rugby she loves AFL, we both agree on netball, I like tennis but she’s obsessed with it.
But in the space of a few short months I have gone from being somebody who avoided motor sports like the plague (very hard to do living with Doc but I had been quite successful), to a GP convert, and now a Finke official. And Helen is following fast!
First it was just helping out our hosts as they’d been so good to us, then I started getting ‘involved’. It was exciting being around the action. I worked at the Scrutineering night where all the entrants were checked out for compliance and safety. Then I backed up again the next morning at the Prologue. That’s the time trials that determine the starting positions for the race itself.
As a Finke novice everyone is very nice to me and explains everything that is happening – who is who, who’s likely to win, the different classes of cars, buggies and bikes, and what it all means. It’s much friendlier and more supportive than some of the sporting events I’ve been to where you’re treated with contempt if you don’t know all the intricate rules. And nobody has treated me as a secondary citizen just because I’m female – so much for bogan chauvinism!
This morning at Prologue I got time to go and check out the cars going around the track. As an official I even got to the start and finish lines and into the control areas. It was a buzz – things going on all the time, with sometimes quick reactions necessary.
But the best bit was out with the crowds, watching from the stands at the chicanes. Cars and buggies going as fast as they can around the bends, throwing up the dirt, then becoming airborne over the hills. The wheels on the 4WDs had individual lives, sometimes appearing to be going in opposite directions from each other as they twisted through the turns and tried not to roll.
Only two did – roll that is, but fortunately nobody was hurt.
And now I’m camped out on the track – 119kms from Alice Springs waiting for the race tomorrow. Red dirt abounds, there are campfires all around and a camaraderie with the other campers creating a real party atmosphere. There are even kids and toddlers roaming around that everybody is keeping an eye on.
If this is being a bogan, I’ll take it any day!