Finke Experience Q&A with Bailey Cole

Finke Experience Q&A with Bailey Cole

The 2023 Finke Desert Race was Bailey's first time visiting Australia and first time racing in trophy truck a.k.a our Maloo inspired Trophy Ute.

So after the race, we had plenty of time in the car on our drive home to SA from Alice Springs and asked Bailey a few questions.

What had you heard about Finke that made you want to come and
race it?

I heard that it was the fastest average speed of any offroad event in the world. You are carrying around one and a half times the speed as you would get in any race in the states. In addition I hear that the motorheads in Australia are second to none! So the speed and the Finke Offroad community is what I heard was special…. I also have wanted to get behind the wheel of a Trophy Truck since I was little, so when I was given the opportunity I couldn’t say no.

What makes Finke different from races in the States?

As touched on previously the speed is second to none, However some other key differences are that it is a multi day event. So we had a night in between the two sprints to and from Finke. The terrain also changes very quickly, While in the states you can be on a straight whooped road for 20+ miles it seemed like every bend at Finke had a different challenge. There were sand dunes, technical corners, flat out drifts, some of the biggest holes I have driven through, and even the occasional kangaroo!

How did the team prepare?

The obvious is getting the car ready. Jack and Amy spend months in the garage making sure everything was perfect on the car. They even did some big changes to make sure it was as competitive as ever, such as fitting it with 37” tires, and hubs to hold up to the abuse of the course. For me there were also the Visas and passports necessary for an international race. Also a first for me was having to get swags and prepare for nearly two weeks of living out of the back of a chase rig. Generally we are in an Airbnb or a hotel so living out of a swag was definitely different, but wouldn’t want the outback experience any other way.

What was the Trophy Ute like?

The Trophy Ute was my first experience driving a fully unlimited desert car. I knew it had great parts in it as it had a strong chassis, LS motor, TH400, Fox Shocks, Spidertrax housings and hubs, Wilwood Brakes, inside the great pairing of 17” Vision Wheels and 37” Yokohama Geolander MTs! It was also crazy unique with its Maloo body and retro livery.

It was also a different challenge for me was that it was a right hand drive car. That means I had to adapt to both the steering wheel and shifter in the wrong spots for me. Little things like getting in and out of the car became a bit harder as we as I could never really relax in the car because I always had to be aware of where I was in the car compared to where I thought I was.

Talk us through Finke?

The racing at Finke lived up to the hype. It was an incredibly fast and fun track. We were pretty quickly into the dust of our competitors and the first 50km of the track was tight and technical. Amy had to be on her calls and we had to take it a bit easy through there. From 50 km to 150 km was really fast with some of the biggest holes I have hit in an offroad car. We were skating across the top and having a great time. We picked off a few cars through that section.

Then we got to the last 40km and we heard a bad noise coming from under the car. To me it sounded like the skid plate was banging off the whoops, but we couldn’t be sure in the car. We backed off and it was a good thing we did. We broke the clevis off the front limit strap so not only was the strap dangling and beating on all the front end components, but also the front shocks were in danger of ripping themselves apart with nothing to stop their extension. Luckily we got through day one without major damage though!

Will we be back?

As long as Jack and Amy invite me back out I will be. The atmosphere and event was truly one of a kind, and now we have to fight and get that so hard to get pin!

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