Motor enthusiast died after two vintage cars made contact during practice run at Snetterton Circuit
16:50 29 May 2014
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An experienced motor enthusiast died after his 1924 car came into contact with a faster vehicle overtaking him during a practice for a race, an inquest has heard.
Stephen Jewell, who won many titles during 40 years in motor sports, was thrown from his Bugatti T35B and suffered multiple injuries following the crash at the Snetterton Circuit on September 29, 2013.
The 63 year old, from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, had just exited Murrays Corner and was driving along the Senna straight at 80-85mph when he was overtaken by a vintage English Racing Automobile (ERA), which was travelling at about 100mph.
James Hulbert, who was driving the ERA, told today’s inquest at Norfolk Corner’s Court that he had sufficient room to overtake Mr Jewell, but felt a bump on his rear left tyre when the two cars made contact.
Mr Hulbert said he was not aware that Mr Jewell then crashed, and did not realise something had gone wrong until he saw a red flag further around the circuit.
John Symes, technical director of the Motor Sports Association who investigated the crash, said the evidence suggested there was “enough” space for the ERA to overtake, but “it was not vast”.
After the cars made contact, the Bugatti continued in a near-straight line, with Mr Jewell thrown from the car when it hit a barrier. The Bugatti then travelled for a further 200m along a verge.
There was conflicting evidence about whether Mr Jewell had died of natural causes before the crash, or as a result of injuries sustained when the car crashed into the barrier.
His partner, Rosalind Ottignon, said she had seen him move the steering wheel immediately after the two cars made contact, but another witness, John Staveley, said: “There appeared to be no attempt at all to steer back up the track.”
A post mortem examination concluded that Mr Jewell died of multiple injuries, not natural causes, and there was no evidence he had suffered a stroke or heart attack.
The Bugatti did not have a seat belt, but Mr Symes told coroner Jacqueline Lake there was no legal requirement for restraints on such cars, and they were museum pieces their owners drove carefully.
Recording a narrative verdict, Ms Lake said Mr Jewell died as a result of a collision on a race track.