Bygdsiljum – soon in the spotlight of the entire rally world
When the town of just over 400 people was entrusted with organizing a rally stage for Rally Sweden, it not only brings in revenue for the local motor club but also unites the villagers, with over 140 volunteers involved.
January 23, 2024Text: Niklas Westman
The significance of Rally Sweden for local sports clubs is substantial. During the inaugural year of Rally Sweden in Umeå, a total of 40 associations shared nearly four million Swedish Kronor. Many clubs and organizations have the opportunity to strengthen their finances and fulfill their dreams thanks to this global event.
Bygdsiljums MK is no exception. When the town is showcased in the 2024 event with both its name and a designated stage, it opens up a new revenue stream that is worth gathering everyone in the village around.
The club’s chairman, Jörgen Ågren, who founded the association in 2010, lives in a small paradise of motorsport. A stone’s throw from the internationally respected wood industry company Martinsons Trä, now owned by the forestry company Holmen, lies the motor stadium.
The club completed the arena at its formation and currently has 185 members with a turnover of around 400,000 Kronor, which is modest in this context.
Bygdsiljum, located somewhat closer to Skellefteå than Umeå, is also known for its beautiful ski slope, placed as a monument to the village. The classic Westman café, with nearly a hundred years of history, is also a reliable destination whose peacocks once brightened the café guests’ experience.
Outshining the Glorious Past
The classic dance palace Siljumsborg was built in 1946 and attracted major Swedish artists like Trio med Bumba and Jerry Williams. It was significant at that time. The World Rally will be even more significant when the eyes of the whole world are focused on the region.
The arena area is now the hub and epicenter in Bygdsiljum, especially for snowmobile cross, where the town has organized several Swedish Championship events in the last decade. Together with Gerry Åström, stage manager, the duo now has busy days organizing and structuring the efforts required to deliver a World Rally stage beyond the ordinary.
“It means a lot that we get the opportunity to engage in the Rally World Championship, and we get revenue from the rally, which is very good for us as we want to develop the club. We need the income, so this is really valuable for us,” says the duo unanimously.
Commitment and Grand Plans
The commitment and time they invest can never be measured in money, but both know that the revenue from Rally Sweden will benefit the club.
“We have big plans for our motor area. Now we are going to build Europe’s first ice oval track, and recently, with the help of volunteers and funds from the public inheritance fund, we have been able to build a new machinery hall for seven million Swedish Kronor,” says Jörgen Ågren.
A Longer and More Exciting Stage
The club was involved in the rally last year as well, but for Gerry Åström, it becomes even more special as the stage puts the club and the town on the map in a completely different way compared to last year.
“We have no problem getting people who want to contribute; the whole village wants to be involved in some way when the town’s name is featured. Moreover, the stage has become both more enjoyable and longer than last year’s part in Botsmark. I think many feel a sense of pride, and the business community is also highly motivated to help us. For us, this is huge,” says Gerry Åström while he and Jörgen proudly guide the undersigned through the dramatic World Rally stage that runs through several farms, which also boast the event’s highest point, Bjursjöaltaret, located approximately 330 meters above sea level.
The concluding part of the stage is technically challenging enough. Fields, farms, bridges, mailboxes, and skewed challenging curves pierce through the nature of villages and places like Rönnliden, Välvsjön, and Orrberget, concluding with the finish line in Norra Stortjärn.
130 Million TV Viewers
Gerry and Jörgen have an iron grip on every millimetre along the stage and the functions required at the different locations where the world’s best rally drivers will accelerate past at frantic speeds.
“Sportingly, from what I’ve heard from both drivers and old experienced hands, it’s an incredibly interesting stage. It’s almost three-dimensional, and we will be able to offer both speed and curves to the drivers on this stage,” says Gerry Åström, and Jörgen Ågren agrees. “It feels honourable that we’ve got the assignment, and it’s fun to be able to showcase little Bygdsiljum to 130 million TV viewers,” say the duo unanimously.
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