Death at Speed
THE hugely popular Speed on Tweed car festival at Murwillumbah ended in tragedy late yesterday when a time trial competitor crashed and died. The 54-year-old Queensland man, named in the program as Jon Chippindall, understood to be from Brisbane, lost control of his Austin 7 about 3pm on a tight turn going uphill, at the corner of Rous and Ewing Streets. Witnesses said the small, dark green open-top car tipped onto its two outside wheels, throwing the driver partially out of his seat, then crashed into a safety barrier. The driver, who was sandwiched against the barrier, was taken by ambulance to Murwillumbah Hospital. Racing was abandoned immediately after the fatality and did not resume. Police from the Ballina-based Crash Investigation Unit remained at the accident scene early last night. Murwillumbah Police Sergeant Doug Conners said the victim was a Confederation of Australian Motor Sport-accredited driver who received fatal injuries after colliding with a safety barrier. Sgt Connors said the victim had earlier successfully negotiated the track. Witnesses said he had been having another run around the track after completing a circuit. Witness Peter Smith of Burleigh said the road section where the crash oc- curred had a "bad camber" and some other vehicles had also been in trouble there. "He was basically squashed against the barrier," Mr Smith said. "He was having a fantastic time and he went out fast. "It really puts a dampener on the whole event. "Everybody has been enjoying themselves so much watching these fabulous old cars." Speed on Tweed chairman Roger Ealand was unavailable for comment. Before yesterday's terrible accident, Speed on Tweed was looking like the most successful festival ever staged in Murwillumbah. Within two hours of the time trials starting on Saturday, car parking surrounding the Murwillumbah Showgrounds was overflowing. Organisers were forced to park cars in outlying areas and most streets around Murwillumbah were crammed. A record 170 historic vehicles entered the festival.