Swedish games mogul smashes million dollar Ferrari

A rare one-million-dollar Ferrari sports car belonging to a Swedish game industry mogul slammed into a pole during a high-speed street race on Tuesday, reducing it to scrap metal, US police said.

Police in the plush Los Angeles district of Malibu said the 2003 Ferrari Enzo, only 399 of which were ever made, was owned by Stefan Eriksson, 44, a controversial former executive of the failed handheld gaming company Gizmondo.

The driver lost control of the Ferrari at around dawn when it careened up an embankment, probably became airborne and then slammed into a pole, slicing the vehicle in half, police said.

Eriksson, who was slightly injured in the crash, told police he was a passenger in the vehicle and that the driver was a German man called Dietrich who had fled the scene, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Philip Brooks told AFP.

“Whoever was driving the Ferrari and a Mercedes came out to Malibu for a little race,” Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Philip Brooks said. “The other car racing was a (500,000-dollar) SLR Mercedes,” he said.

Eriksson had a blood-alcohol level of 0.09, which is above the legal limit, Brooks said, adding that nobody had been arrested in connection with the crash but that officers were still seeking to identify the driver of the car.

“He’s still considered as the passenger,” Brooks said of Eriksson. “We’re continuing our investigation. He’s not in custody.”

The red Ferrari Enzo, other examples of which are owned by such high-flyers as Oscar-winning movie star Nicolas Cage and US fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, was speeding are more than 192 kilometers an hour (120 mph) when the crash occurred, Brooks said.

The impact sheared the red Italian sports car in two, separating the entire front section from the rest of the vehicle. The 650 horsepower car had a top speed of more than 360 kilometers (225 miles) per hour.

“For a million dollars, you get a very good passenger-safety system, and apparently, in this case, it did work,” Brooks said.

Police determined that Eriksson was once an executive of the video game industry firm Gizmondo.

“He told us he is or was the head of Gizmondo,” Brooks said, adding also that Eriksson had previously professionally raced Ferraris in Europe.

Internet records show that Eriksson was the executive officer of Gizmondo Europe — a unit of a US company Tiger Telematics — which developed games and a high-tech gaming console.

British press reports said Eriksson resigned in October last year after a Swedish newspaper claimed he was convicted in Sweden in the early 1990s for alleged involvement with a Swedish mafia outfit.

The company filed for bankruptcy in Britain last month after reporting a net loss of 140 million pounds (225 million dollars) for the third quarter of 2005 on sales of 1.4 million pounds.