Reported in the News Letter on May 23, 1960: Seven killed after 110mph race car ploughs into spectators on collapsed bridge

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Seven people – including the British racing driver Chris Threlfall and two women – were killed and 20 injured when a footbridge collapsed on to the racing circuit at Aix les Bains, France, yesterday.

Threlfall’s car – with no time to reduce speed – crashed at 110 miles an hour into spectators caught in the wreckage of the bridge.

A member of the BMC-Elva works team, Threlfall, a bachelor aged about 28, was a former British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) pilot.

Officials said the footbridge collapsed because too many people were standing on it.

The race was abandoned.

Threlfall’s mechanic said: “Chris was one of the nicest persons you could hope to meet. He tried to avoid the crowd. But he had not a hope at 110 miles an hour. There were about 50 people on that wooden footbridge, and crowds lining the track on either side. It could not have happened in England.”

Threlfall has been driving for a number of years. Four years ago, almost to the day – on May 20, 1956 – he was involved in a racing incident in which a woman and her two children and a young man were killed.