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Zef Eisenberg: Racer's high-speed crash 'not survivable' inquest told

Zef Eisenberg

A fitness firm founder who was killed attempting a land speed record had taken one hand off the wheel to deploy a parachute, an inquest has heard.

Millionaire Zef Eisenberg died during the attempt in a Porsche 911 Turbo at Elvington Airfield, near York, in 2020.

He may have also braked then deployed the parachute, causing the car to take off, the hearing was told.

Mr Eisenberg suffered fatal injuries in the crash after his car barrel-rolled and spun end over end.

Coroner Jon Heath recorded a conclusion of misadventure.

The inquest was told the Maximuscle founder’s modified Porsche was fitted with a parachute which required him to take his left hand off the steering wheel to deploy it using a lever.

‘Huge forces’

Steve Gardner, a collision investigator for North Yorkshire Police at the time, said an alternative method was to deploy a button mounted on the steering wheel, but that was not fitted to the vehicle.

“The movement to deploy the parachute was quite substantial,” he said.

Footage from inside the car also showed a “minimal” but “noticeable” twitch on the steering wheel in the moments before the loss of control, Mr Gardner added.

Family members had also expressed concerns about whether he was correctly strapped into the Porsche.

But Jamie Champkin, from Motorsport UK – the body which provided Mr Eisenberg, who lived on Guernsey, with a permit for the record attempts, said the forces involved in the crash were huge, and could not have been survived.

“The car became airborne very quickly, it travelled 513 metres before coming to a rest,” he said.

We know it barrel-rolled, but it had also tumbled, he said, adding: “There came a point in that tumble that the car came down nose first.

“Our estimates were it was probably still doing 150mph, but it hit the ground and our very basic calculations would suggest an impact force 218 times Mr Eisenberg’s body weight.

“This incident was not survivable in that context,” he added.

Zef Eisenberg at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2015

Michael Cole/Getty Images

Coroner Jon Heath said he would make a report aimed at preventing future deaths, asking Motorsport UK to consider its regulations about the strength of the chassis at which point harnesses are mounted.

However, he said that was not a factor in Mr Eisenberg’s case.

Mr Eisenberg, who was from north London, had previously survived a motorcycle crash at the same airfield in North Yorkshire in 2016 when his turbine-powered motorbike failed to stop at the end of the runway.

He returned to racing in 2017, despite concerns he would never walk again, and in 2018 became the fastest biker to ever ride on sand, recording a speed of 230mph (370km/h).

In 2019, Mr Eisenberg set the record for the “flying mile” at Pendine Sands in Wales.

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