A powerful car in which two Queensbury men died when it skidded and crashed is believed to have been “racing” another car shortly beforehand, a police chief has said.

The 20-year-old driver and 18-year-old front seat passenger of the Volkswagen Golf GTI suffered fatal injuries when it smashed into a steel lamppost in Ovenden Road, Halifax, at about 10pm on Friday.

A 19-year-old man, who was the back seat passenger and also of Queensbury, suffered minor injuries to his foot and was taken to Leeds General Infirmary for treatment.

Speaking at the scene yesterday afternoon, Chief Superintendent Angela Williams, the commander of Calderdale Police, said: “The red Golf came out of the town centre, we believe at a speed above the 40mph limit, lost control and collided with a lamppost and the central reservation. Both the driver and the front-seat passenger died at the scene.

“Witness reports and CCTV inquiries suggest the red Golf may have been racing around Halifax town centre earlier along with a red Astra.

“We have now traced that vehicle and a 30-year-old Halifax man has been arrested in relation to this incident and the earlier driving standards. That man is now out on police bail while the investigation continues.

“It is a very tragic set of circumstances for the men’s families, and for the Queensbury area, which has lost two young men and is obviously in shock.”

A stream of grief-stricken mourners attended the scene of the accident over the weekend, leaving floral tributes to the dead men, who were named in one message as Ben Brearcliffe and Mike Hudson.

One tribute read: “You will always be missed Ben, you’ve been stolen from us far too soon,” while another said: “To my precious, beautiful, sweetheart son Michael, you’re my love, heart and soul.”

Messages for the pair, both former Queensbury High School pupils, were also left on Facebook.

Councillor Michael Walls (Con, Queensbury) said it was a horrible thing to happen for the families of the victims.

He said: “It is an awful loss of two young lives. Our sympathy goes out to them.”

Fellow Queensbury Councillor Paul Cromie (Ind) added: “People need space to grieve when such tragedies occur, but if there is anything we can do for the families, we will. We offer our condolences to the families.”

Road closures were put in place on Friday night while officers carried out investigations at the scene.

Sergeant Carl Quinn, of the Major Collision Enquiry Team, said: “We are appealing for witnesses to this incident in which two men have lost their lives, and another has received a serious injury.

“The VW was seen driving around the town centre prior to the collision, with a red Vauxhall Astra VXR, and we are keen to speak with anyone who witnessed the behaviour of either car, or the collision itself.

“Anyone who has information should contact the Major Collision Enquiry Team on 01924 293047, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”