Canadian oil tycoon, 80, died in vintage car crash 'after taking wrong turn onto motorway'

Philanthropist Ron Carey, 80, died when the vintage car he was driving collided with a lorry along the busy M23. (PA)

The man who died after colliding with a lorry while taking part in a vintage car rally between London and Brighton has been pictured for the first time.

Millionaire oil tycoon and philanthropist Ron Carey, 80, was thrown "into the air like a ragdoll" after his 1903 Knox Porcupine was struck yesterday morning after he took a wrong turn onto the M23.

He drove onto the motorway, which was not a part of the route, while competing in the rally with his wife Billi.

Ron, from Calgary in Canada, was pronounced dead at the scene in Surrey while Billi was airlifted to hospital with severe head injuries.

The pair were taking part in the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run after flying from their home in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

The 60-mile run began in London’s Hyde Park at dawn and travelled through Gatwick, Crawley and Burgess Hill before the first car arrived at Madeira Drive, Brighton, shortly after 10am.

Ron - who owns a £3.8million classic car collection - was a prominent member of multiple vintage car clubs and business circles around Calgary.

The man drove his wooden-bodied 1903 model Knox Runabout Old Porcupine vehicle onto the M23, which was not a part of the rally route.

“It’s very tragic, gut-wrenching news,” friend Rick Pikulski said. “I’ve known Ron for almost 40 years and he was very well-respected and well-liked.”

“He was an avid collector,” added Mr Pikulski, who met Carey through the hobby. “He had a passion. He’s a tremendous loss.”

Jocelyn Gregory, who passed the car and the lorry seconds before the impact, saw the collision in her rearview mirror.

She told the Daily Telegraph: “When the lorry hit, they flew up into the air like rag dolls. It was awful. I am not sure how the other passenger was still alive.

“I still have visions of them catapulting... out of the car."

Carey was the founder of J&L Supply, an oil supply company based in Canada.

He was more widely-known for his contributions to Gasoline Alley in Heritage Park and Irricana’s Pioneer Acres, an antique vehicles museum.

Earlier this year, Heritage Park’s Alida Visbach spoke with CTV News about the 67 vehicles Carey has on display.

“This building wouldn’t exist without Mr Carey’s donation. These aren’t just regular cars and trucks; these are the trucks that built this nation, especially Western Canada.

“It’s quite unique and through this collection we can tell the story of settlement.”

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Surrey Police said yesterday that the car was struck by an HGV with the driver thrown from the vehicle.

A statement from said: “We can confirm that a man has sadly died following a collision on the southbound carriageway of the M23 near J7 Hooley this morning.

“The collision, involving a car (1903 Knox Runabout Old Porcupine) and an HGV, took place around 10am.

“The driver of the car, an 80-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after the collision, and a female passenger has been taken to hospital by ambulance with serious injuries. Police have notified the man’s next of kin.”

The crash happened on the M23 near the village of Hooley in Surrey. (Getty)

A spokesman for the run organisers confirmed that the vehicle involved in the accident on Sunday was entered in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

Around 400 cars took part in the rally.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service said in a statement a woman had been taken to St George’s Hospital, but that her injuries were not thought to be serious.

A second man was also treated at the scene for minor injuries, the statement said.