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Chicago billionaire dies in crash on Colorado race track on 70th birthday

James Crown, a 70-year-old businessman from the billionaire Crown family, died in a driving accident on his birthday, according to authorities.

Mr Crown, whose family owns the Aspen Skiing Company, was driving at the Aspen Motorsports Park in Woody Creek, Colorado, when he collided with an impact barrier, according to the Pitkin County Coroner's Office.

The resort includes a track for racing cars as well as a go-kart track.

“The official cause of death is pending autopsy although multiple blunt force trauma is evident,” the coroner’s office said in a statement. “The manner is accident.”

The Colorado State Patrol was called out to the scene around 2:45pm on Sunday, according to the Colorado Sun.

The coroner's office, the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, and the Colorado State Patrol are investigating the crash.

“Due to the ongoing investigation, no further details will be released at this time,” the agencies said in a statement.

Mr Crown's family, via Aspen Skiing Company, issued a statement following his death.

“The Crown family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Jim Crown in an accident earlier today,” Aspen Skiing Company said in a statement on Sunday. “The family requests that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. Further details regarding plans for a memorial to remember Jim’s remarkable life will be released at a later date.”

In addition to acting as a managing partner of Aspen Skiing Company, Mr Crown was the chair emeritus of the board that oversees the Aspen Institute, which is currently hosting the Aspen Ideas Festival in the city.

He also served as the director of General Dynamic Corp and JP Morgan Chase.

Mr Crown was appointed in 2014 to serve on former President Barack Obama's intelligence advisory board. He was reportedly close to the family, with NBC News calling him a member of Mr Obama's "inner circle," and former First Lady Michelle Obama staying at his home in Aspen during a 2014 ski vacation.

The 70-year-old's wife, Paula, helped launch the Aspen Skiing Company's "AspenX" brand in 2021, which focuses on branded retail and apparel products.

Aspen Skiing Company was founded in 1985 and was eventually bought out by other owners in 1993.

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