Half the Alice Springs population, some 13,000 people, will be watching tomorrow when 440 bikes and 99 cars set off on their first leg in Australia’s biggest and toughest off-road race, the Tatts Finke Desert Race.
Some spectators will be at the start line, but most will be camped along the track in what’s the town’s biggest social event, sleeping in swags, tents and caravans, cooking on camp fires and downing the odd beer and rum.
It’s the 38th annual Finke, founded by locals, and despite its now national and international profile, entirely run by local volunteers.
What’s more, some of the racing machines are built or modified by local professional and amateur mechanics.
Many competitors come from right across the diverse population of The Centre.
Today’s prologue (pictured) determined tomorrow’s starting positions.
The fastest competitor, likely to be driving a buggy, will do the 226 kilometers from Alice Springs south to the tiny Aboriginal community of Finke in less than two hours.
The second leg – back to Alice – will be on the holiday Monday.
If you can’t be there, follow the race online.