The family of a teenage driver who was killed after racing his car on a residential York road spoke today of the needless tragedy that has left their lives empty.

The inquest on 19-year-old Richard Brian Warner, of Westfield Place, Acomb, York, heard the teenager bought a black Peugeot 205 GTI car on May 15 last year.

Within hours the new £250 purchase led to his death.

After York coroner Donald Coverdale recorded a verdict of death by misadventure on Richard, his mother Pauline said the tragedy had left their lives shattered.

She said her unemployed son had vowed to get his life back on track just before the crash happened.

She said: "He was a fit and brainy lad who had no fear. He wanted to go into the Army and had promised me he would stay out of trouble.

"We miss him so much, our family will never be the same without him."

The inquest heard Richard was out driving with his friend Richard Hughes, 17, of Sowerby Road, and two schoolgirls, Selena Thackeray, now 16, of Mowbray Drive, and Hannah Jacques, now 16, of Burnsall Drive.

They had driven to Poppleton where the boys smoked a joint of marijuana, and were travelling back to Acomb when they saw a friend Luke Watson, 19, drive past in his red Fiesta.

The inquest heard that this was when the race began and witnesses recalled the two cars travelling at speeds in excess of 70mph along Beckfield Lane towards the Boroughbridge Road.

In an attempt to overtake Luke, Richard pulled into the right-hand lane and overtook him around some bollards.

He then lost control of the car and crashed into a tree, just past Ostman Road.

Witness Leonard Grove, of Celtic Close, was walking his dog with his wife when the accident happened at about 8.15pm.

He said the car appeared to be airborne when it hit the tree. He described the impact as "a noise that was so horrendous it sounded like an explosion".

PC Michael Natt, for the Accident Investigation Unit, said Richard's car was travelling at more than 65mph on approach to the accident and was doing 36.5mph on impact with the tree.

Richard later died at York District Hospital of injuries to his chest and abdomen and his three passengers all suffered injuries.

Mr Coverdale said: "Mr Warner was engaged in racing Mr Watson in very dangerous circumstances.

"It is indeed such a sad loss that a young man should die in such a horrific way."

Updated: 10:29 Thursday, May 31, 2001