4th Finke triumph for Rentsch, 40th for volunteers

p2245-Finke-2015-3UPDATE 7:00 pm: Next year no Finke camping for the first 30km? Ghan Society on the warpath – see comment below.

 

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

Father and son crew Shannon and Ian Rentsch from Warrnambool, Victoria, took out their fourth Tatts Finke Desert Race this morning, doing the return trip in an amazing 3 hours and 42 minutes.

 

They were seven minutes ahead of second place getters, Jack Rhodes and David Pullino from SA. Beau Robinson (WA) came third.

 

The 40th Finke was again especially a triumph for the 400 volunteers – and the one sole paid employee – who run the big national event.

 

p2245-Finke-Heller-RowseDebbie Heller (at left with mother Heather Rowse) has been a volunteer for 10 years: “I love seeing the guys I sign on during the week, and hearing their stories.

 

“And then I love seeing them come home, and I love hearing the stories about how they came home. And I get them to sign off.

 

“They have a big smile and they give me a hug and say, ‘I’ve made it!’

 

“Most of the people have been racing so long that you see them grow up, father hands over to son. It’s their passion that drives us to be here,” says Ms Heller.

 

Ms Rowse has been a Finke volunteer for about 15 years: “I’ve always been interested in car racing.

 

“My daughter and I manage the scrutineering of the cars, and sign them all back in today.”

 

p2245-Finke-Naomi-PreeceNaomi Preece (at right) works in the VIP grid lounge: “I’m a local girl for about six or seven years now.

 

“It’s good to be part of the event, getting a different perspective from being just a normal spectator. We’re much needed. The more volunteers the better.”

 

p2245-Finke-Haydn-BranfordIt is the fifth year running the lounge for Haydn Branford (at left): “We’re doing it to just help out. You’re part of the atmosphere. My little brother [past bike winner Ryan Branford] races. Gives us something to do on the weekend!”

 

Mayor Damien Ryan (below right, with a representative of naming rights sponsor, Tatts) has been a Finke stalwart from the beginning of the race.

 

He says this year about 400 people from all walks of life helped out, just for the fun of it, and the “old brigade” are beginning to hand over to youngsters, he says.

 

p2245-Finke-2015-8Young men from the Clontarf football academy will today be cutting rented transponders off 500 motorbikes, cleaning them and putting them back into their boxes.

 

“It’s all those little things.”

 

President Antony Yoffa is working in the main control room as an offsider to Jol Fleming who’s been doing it for a long, long time.

 

“We’re in the process now of passing knowledge on to younger people so the race continues on,” says Mayor Ryan.

 

“It’s no good people turning up one year – ‘where is the procedures manual?’. Ah, we don’t have one.

 

p2245-Finke-2015-9

 

AT LEFT: The winning crew with grid girls. Their buggy is pictured below. AT TOP: Winners racing past spectators near the finish line.

 

“Life member Judy Hoare came back this year and took on the role as volunteer co-ordinator, presiding over group leaders in charge of each area. It’s one of the biggest jobs we have. It has worked very well.

 

“Today she’s running the Deep Well checkpoint. She won’t be home till very late tonight.”

 

The Finke Desert Race company still has only one paid employee: “It would be good running a business that way,” says Mayor Ryan, “with the same sort of turnover.”

 

p2245-Finke-2015-11And that has grown to be big indeed, with a record breaking entry of 600 bikes and 134 cars.

 

 

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. The Barkly Magpie
    Posted June 11, 2015 at 10:29 am

    One final word on the issues from the weekend.
    It’s a very important event on the local sporting calendar and it attracts a lot of people to town, which is a good thing for the local economy. Some of those visitors use it as a chance to catch up with family, which is great.
    I have heard comments this week that everyone who enjoys the event should not be penalised for the actions of a few. Sadly, some people see the event as an opportunity to drink way too much, get into the drugs and become violent, dirty animals who are a danger to traffic, other people and themselves.
    They threaten people, camp where they want to, throw their rubbish around everywhere, defecate all over the place and expect others to clean up their stinking mess.
    Hopefully, the committee and the sport’s governing body will do something about it next year. Hopefully, police will have the Tac Team standing by to quickly and efficiently deal with the trouble makers.
    Pardon? Finke? Sorry, I thought we were still talking about the Lightning Carnival.
    It’s white fellas being drunken animals so that’s all right then – it’s their core value as Territorians.
    So when are the BoganNats on? Can’t wait.

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  2. The Barkly Magpie
    Posted June 10, 2015 at 10:35 am

    @ Robert: I fear it is not going to get any better until they start testing babies to see if they carry the bogan gene.
    There was a time – it was a while ago now – when you didn’t have to be a knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, redneck racist cretin to call yourself a Territorian. These days, you have to have those qualities to get elected.

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  3. Robert
    Posted June 8, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Some unhappy campers
    Liz Martin. [Road Transport Hall of Fame.]
    CONGRATULATIONS… YOU DID IT!
    Following an emergency meeting of the Road Transport Historical Society Inc. Board of Management this morning, instigated by physical threats of violence to our volunteers, it has been decided that having the Finke Desert Race and the campers on our land is not worth the danger, trauma or the damage and will be stopped forthwith at the end of this event.
    Special thank you to all those who do the right thing. We have tried every avenue to NOT have to do this but the time has finally come. Last year I had death threats and people threaten to put their dogs on me.
    This year we decided to try the non confrontational approach and didn’t advertise or put notices on facebook but dealt with individual campers.
    Of course, we’ve have had the usual keyboard warriors (little boys who hide behind a big keyboard), verbal abuse and personal threats (including a headbutts and stone throwing) to my senior volunteers and to me, the usual filth, pallets, toilets and crap.
    We have drunks driving up and down our road with small children on bikes on the same road, people lighting fireworks when we have a strict no fire works policy, digging up the railway line and burning our sleepers. That’s a heritage line!
    To avoid the breathalysers the drunks are using our road as a race track!
    Thank you also to the clever “legal eagles” from town who took it upon themselves to tell all the campers around them that I had NO rights on MY land and not to pay.
    I have your name and workplaces and a tresspass order is on its way to you special people who place yourselves above the law!
    A footy club whose drunken games nearly ended up with a competitor running over a camper who “fell” onto the road. We even had a group this year come into the museum, refuse to pay, and abuse my staff … well enough is enough!
    Again I reiterate thank you to the people who do the right thing. It is you who give me the incentive to even try for a resolution.
    On your way back – call in and thank the idiots camping along the Old Ghan Line or get on here and thank the keyboard cowboys who think they can control what is not theirs.
    Because finally, FINALLY … they have stuffed it for everybody. Those who know me know I don’t say things I don’t mean. I haven’t had a good blue for a while and its now … game on!
    So, NT Government and Finke Committee, you take the land and manage the risk, duty of care, liability and idiots yourself … or you fence the idiots out of our land completely … Or you run the race down the main road and don’t use our land other than the first crossing of the line.
    We can fence that bit and you can put security and cops there because when I say its OVER I mean its OVER.
    Ban camping for the first 30 kilometers – or employ some-one to manage them! It usually costs us $10 grand to clean up after the slobs – that’s what the $10 fee is for!
    My Board are flying back in on 12 /13 July with our solicitor and we want a meeting with all stakeholders to sort this out.
    What a pity such a small group of disrespectful ungrateful loudmouthed fools can stuff a major event so crucial and vital to our town’s social and economical well-being!

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