Walters Arena has been awarded the coveted Tom Pryce Memorial Trophy for 2020.
The Tom Pryce award commemorates Wales’ greatest racing driver who tragically lost his life during the 1977 South African Grand Prix and is presented annually by the Welsh Motoring Writers to an individual or undertaking with a relationship to Wales for an outstanding contribution in the world of transport.
Walters Arena has become a world-famous location for motorsport and off-road vehicle development and plays a significant role in bringing visitors to the local area and supporting the local economy. The site originally started life as an opencast mine after the Second World War and after the coal reserves were extracted, it was backfilled, topsoiled and landscaped with conifers and grass.
It has evolved into an international motorsports complex hosting the Welsh round of the World Rally Championship and is an established testing venue for WRC teams. It has also been used by vehicle manufacturers to develop cars with off-road ability and hosts a number of national and international motorsport events and featured on television in Top Gear, Fifth Gear and Wheeler Dealers.
The Walters Arena site has also been home to the BMW Off-Road Skills Motorcycle Experience for many years, and the Dawn to Dusk 24-hour motorcycle endurance event is also hosted at the venue.
As part of the Walters Group, sustainability is also important at the site, with pine and larch plantations, a number of ponds and watercourses, and wildlife including peregrine falcons, red kites, sparrow hawks and barn owls as well as rabbits and brown hares.
Welsh Motoring Writers took part in off-road driving at Walters Arena in 2017. And it has recently become home to the Maesgwyn wind farm with 13 wind turbines supplying the grid, while a solar scheme has also gone live. There are plans for further wind generation, as well as hydroelectric and gas generation.
Greg Clement, Motorsport Manager at Walters Arena, said: “It’s an honour to receive this award and I would particularly like to thank my predecessor, Cliff Mainwaring, who worked so hard to make the venue what it is today. And, of course, all the volunteers – without them the venue wouldn’t run. We should also thank Mr Walters, who owns it, and I know he would be very chuffed that we have won this award.”
Welsh Motoring Writers Chairman Simon Harris said: “Clearly, Walters Arena has made a name for itself in the global automotive scene, and people might not realise that some of the four-wheel drive road cars they use every day have had development work completed at the venue.
“It is now well established as a site for motorsport and vehicle development as well as driver and rider training, and it gives us great pleasure to recognise Walters Arena with the Tom Pryce Memorial Trophy.”