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26th June 2000                                                                                              Index

'Race death crash stuns spectators'


A race marshal is fighting for his life after being involved in an horrific 100mph accident which killed two people at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Stephen Tarrant, from Poole, in Dorset, suffered serious leg injuries when a classic Formula One car hurtled from the course on Saturday. Driver The Hon John Dawson-Damer, 59, died at the scene after his Lotus collided with the finishing post. An onlooker estimated the motoring enthusiast was driving at over 100mph at the time of the accident. Fellow marshal Andrew Carpenter, 40, from Eastbourne, died of his injuries at St Richard's Hospital, Chichester. Last night 39-year-old Mr Tarrant was in intensive care at the hospital, where his condition was described as serious but stable. His father-in-law Rex Breach told the Daily Echo he had undergone lengthy surgery for serious leg injuries.

Racing was cancelled for the rest of Saturday but resumed on Sunday morning for the last day of the annual event. Eton-educated Mr Dawson-Damer, brother of the Earl of Portarlington, came over from Australia to drive his three-litre Lotus, once used by ex-world champion Mario Andretti, at the festival.

The crash, which occurred during a timed hill climb just after 4pm, was broadcast live on huge television screens around the park. A crowd of around 100,000 people was attending the event. One racing fan told the Daily Echo: "He had been up the hill once already and gone through a speed trap in front of the house at 117mph. I guess when he was approaching the finishing line he would have been doing over 100mph."

Lord March, who hosts the event in the grounds of his home near Chichester, said: "I am extremely upset by the accident and offer my deepest sympathy to the families involved." Sussex Police have launched an investigation, and will be updating the British Association Racing Club with their findings. Inspector Ian Barnett said motor racing was a dangerous sport. He added: "I am satisfied there's a current safety certificate for the circuit."

An inquest into the deaths is due to be opened and adjourned this week. Environmental health officers will also carry out an investigation into the tragedy. Mr Damer-Dawson is survived by a wife Ashley and two children.  

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