Alice Springs is proud to be the home of one of the largest and most thrilling annual sports events in the entire Northern Territory: the Finke Desert Race. Every year on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June, over 600 cars, bikes, quads, and buggies race from Alice Springs to the remote town of Finke and back on a demanding 460KM off-road, multi-terrain course. The two-day event is open to all entrants and is perceived as the richest off-road race in Australia. It is also considered one of the most challenging off-road courses in one of the most remote places on earth. The fastest car and the fastest bike are both awarded the impressive title of ‘King of the Desert’ and a prize. However, most competitors and fans consider simply making it there and back to be a significant and worthwhile achievement in itself.
The Finke Desert Race attracts keen entrants from all over Australia and the rest of the world, as well as plenty of onlookers, with an estimated 12,000 spectators camping beside the track and sleeping under the stars in swags and tents.
The race can be traced back to 1976, when it began as a bike race between some local motorbike riders from Alice Springs to the Finke River and back. Following the success of this ride, the Finke Desert Race was created and has taken place annually ever since. In 1988 cars and off-road buggies were welcomed to race alongside the bikes as the event continued to grow.