Arthur Debenham has been credited with keeping the sport of rallycross alive after a building was named after him at Lydden Hill circuit.
Debenham — the Bury Free Press’ motorsport columnist for approaching four decades — and his wife Adrienne visited the ‘home of rallycross’ in Canterbury for the new commentary tower, which overlooks the one-mile track.
After struggling for a few years, rallycross — held on mixed-surface circuits — is enjoying a renaissance thanks to investment from IMG Sports Management, which helped its world championship to achieve FIA status this year.
“If it wasn’t for Arthur and his wife Adrienne, rallycross may not exist,” said Xavier McCartan, public relations for Lydden Hill and British Rallycross.
“I don’t think people realise the debt of gratitude they owe them.
“If it wasn’t for people like Arthur, IMG wouldn’t have had anything to take over.
“Arthur says it was an honour for him to have the tower named after him, but it’s just as much of an honour for Lydden Hill and British Rallycross that he said yes.”
While Arthur became known as ‘the voice of rallycross’, Adrienne played a crucial role away from the microphone and the pair set up the Rallycross Trust, ploughing any money they earned straight back into the sport.
“It’s one of those husband-and-wife partnerships that you can only look at and envy,” added McCartan.
The new commentary tower was the first in a series of improvements to freshen up the circuit for the British round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship, which went to Lydden Hill last month.
Debenham, of St Andrews Street North, Bury St Edmunds, admitted he was honoured to have the tower named after him.
“For the first time in my life I was speechless,” he said. “It’s quite amazing really — a real honour.
“Adrienne and myself are over the moon because we’ve spent many hours there.”
The couple were guests of Lydden Hill for the World Championship event at the circuit last month and Debenham admitted it ‘did his heart good’ to see so many people attending the event.
Paying tribute to Adrienne, he added: “She worked very hard for the Rallycross Trust and was also my assistant in the commentary box — wherever I was commentating, she was with me.”