This year’s Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday 13 July) will move into the centre of Builth Wells, with the Rally Headquarters located at the fully renovated Strand Hall on Strand Street and the Service Area based at the Builth Wells RFC at Groe Park, a stone’s throw away from the town’s main high street.
Organised by Quinton Motor Club (which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year), since 2011 the Nicky Grist Stages has been based at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd. In 2017 it moved its ceremonial start to Strand Street and its podium celebrations to Groe Park, on the banks of the River Wye. Such has been the support from local traders, Builth Wells Town Council and Powys Country Council, that the event will now move into the town – with the Start, Finish, Service Area and Rally Headquarters located all within sight of each other.
The trailer park and a re-fuelling zone will be located at the town’s Cattle Market car park, while extra marshals will be brought in to manage the Service In and Out controls, as well as the rally car exit route. Auxiliary service vehicles, officials and media car parking will be located adjacent to the Service Area.
This means that the busy hub of the Nicky Grist Stages will be within sight of Builth Wells’ main high street, which is full of independent coffee shops, cafes, bars, hotels, B&Bs, hardware stores and a multitude of other outlets – meaning that team personnel and all rally visitors will have quick and easy access from the Service Area to everything the town has to offer. The event is working closely with Builth Wells Town Council, the Builth Wells Chamber of Trade and Powys County Council to make sure all the local business opportunities are maximised and all rally personnel are catered for.
The Nicky Grist Stages will begin to set up in Builth Wells on Thursday 11 July, with a site clearance operation returning everything to the way it found it concluding on Sunday 14 July.
The organisers predict a large number of visitors to Builth Wells, as the event hosts a round of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series for a 32nd consecutive year – as well as welcoming crews from the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship, FMP Rally Challenge and the HRCR Old Stagers Championship.
Jeremy Pugh, Powys County Council Councillor and Chairman of Builth Wells RFC, said: “We are delighted to welcome a major sporting event like the Nicky Grist Stages into the centre of Builth Wells. The extra trade it will bring into the town is exactly what the local businesses need, and it will be a fantastic sight for everyone to enjoy. The rugby pitch sits on a very large grass area that has previously held a wide variety of family events, and it will easily accommodate more than a hundred and forty service crews and rally cars. We are confident that what we have planned together with Quinton Motor Club will be of maximum benefit and minimum inconvenience to the town.”
Gwyn Davies, Builth Wells Deputy Mayor, said: “We are very excited to have the Nicky Grist Stages come into Builth Wells town centre. We are situated in a very beautiful part of the world and on the major north-south link through Wales, so as a town we do well out of tourism and passing trade. To have a big event based on the Groe, within sight of the main high street, will be great for the people and businesses of Builth. We have a new generation of shopkeepers in the town who will be very keen to welcome the Nicky Grist Stages, and we’re looking forward to making this the start of a long-term relationship with the event.”
Jo Jones, owner of The Owls B&B, said: “As a catering business, we personally do well out of the Nicky Grist Stages as we always have rally guests staying at The Owls. This year we are really excited to have the event based at the Groe, as all the businesses on the high street can benefit from the increased trade. Builth is such a lovely little town, a real Mid-Wales gem, full of wonderful independent shops and a real community spirit. It’s lovely to share the town with visitors, who we hope go home happy and tell their friends to come and find us!”
Neil Cross, Nicky Grist Stages Clerk of the Course, said: “This is a fantastic and exciting move for the event. Crossing the river and bringing the rally to the heart of Builth Wells will showcase the event to the local population and hopefully bring welcome business to the cafes, coffee shops and takeaways. Both the Builth Wells Town Council and Powys County Council have been instrumental in this move and we thank them for all their support and encouragement.”