It was Saturday evening and we had just witnessed one of the most amazing finishes to a college football game in recent history, as the clock expired Auburn’s Chris Davis had returned a failed Alabama field goal attempt for a touch down and won Auburn the lauded Iron Bowl. It was just about that very same moment that we first started seeing rumors swirling on the internet that actor and automotive Motorsports enthusiast Paul Walker had died in a car-crash… Quick to dismiss this as some sort of sick Thanksgiving internet joke, something seemed off…
Then shortly there after confirmation came in that this was indeed no hoax, Paul Walker and Roger Rodas had passed away just minutes after leaving a charity event in California while driving in Roadas’s red 2004 Porsche Carrera GT; a silence fell across the room. A look of reverence took hold as we all processed the implications of Paul’s untimely death; the amusement and euphoria of the Auburn victory just moments before having drained away and been replaced with sadness and introspection.
Why has the tragic passing of Paul Walker (and Roger Rodas) made such an impact on the automotive community as a whole? Quite simply because Paul Walker whether you liked his acting or not represented us all, he was an enthusiast indicative of our generation, an every-man that shared our same love and passion for cars, Motorsports and going fast… Having just turned 40, Paul had found success both on and off the track and alongside his character of Brian O’Connor, we had all grown older, wiser and more deeply invested over the last decade. Paul Walker was us, a Hollywood embodiment and icon for cars and Motorsports, a famous face for a generation of enthusiasts. In Paul Walker we saw ourselves personified larger than life and in his untimely passing we loose a bit of ourselves, mortality enter the equation and it terrifies us.
Paul Walker is survived by his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow Walker, who is his only child with Rebecca McBrain. The teen had recently moved in with her father in his California home and had even attended the Philippines typhoon relief charity event in Santa Clarita, Calif., on November 30th with him.
The following days have seen an unprecedented outpouring of mourning and support across the internet for both Paul Walker and his family; both on-screen and off.
Walker was a true speed demon — a gear-head, a rubber-ripping racecar-driving adrenaline junkie — long before “The Fast and the Furious” or any of its mega-sequels gave him enough money to afford the world’s most expensive fix.
“I’ve always been into cars,” Walker recently told E! in a conversation light on movies but heavy on his family’s hot-rodding streak. “Growing up with all the car publications around the house, going to my grandfather’s shop … he was the first to break 160 mph with the Ford Falcon back in the day, which was a big deal.”
“I’m a speed demon,” Walker told the interviewer back in May.
She asked how fast he’s gone in a car before.
“Just under 200. I did 197. I just haven’t broken 200 yet, which is driving me crazy! I’ll do it; it’s just a matter of finding the right car. Every car I have has plenty of power for that and everything — it’s just aerodynamics.”
Asked whether his favorite car was something vintage, Walker swerved clear of the loaded question.
“I like old-school stuff, but I’m more of a performance guy,” he said. “I like modern-day technology. I like going fast. And I like precision.”
Stunned by Walker’s untimely death, fans, friends and family remembered what he meant to them and what he did for them.
His father remembered him as a loving son who wanted to take a hiatus from acting. A fellow actor said he had just celebrated Walker’s 40th birthday. And a U.S. military veteran will forever be grateful for a touching act of generosity.
Day and night Sunday, legions of fans gathered near the charred roadside where Walker died.
Tyrese Gibson, Walker’s co-star in several “Fast & Furious” movies, broke down as he laid a yellow flower at the site.
“My heart is hurting so bad no one can make me believe this is real,” the singer and actor posted on Instagram. He also shared the duo’s last text exchange.
Paul Walker Sr. choked back tears as he remembered his son.
“His heart was so big,” he told local news channel KCAL. “I was proud of him every day of his life.”
The actor told his father that he wanted to take a hiatus from acting to spend more time with his 15-year-old daughter, Meadow, the elder Walker said. “And then boom, he got another movie. He would say, ‘I don’t know what to do.'”
He said the actor’s siblings are having an especially hard time grappling with the death.
“I’m just … glad that every time I saw him, I told him I loved him,” the father said. “And he would say the same thing to me.”
Onscreen and off, Paul Walker loved the adrenaline rush of racing cars but some of his time behind the wheel was quieter and even closer to his heart.
Driving his daughter, Meadow Rose, to school in the morning, “I just shut up, sit back and stay quiet,” he told PEOPLE in 2011, when she was about to turn 13. “She opens up and reveals a whole lot. The trick is to not ask questions, just listen. I’m figuring it out.”
Walker, who died in a car crash on Saturday, was a proud and devoted father to Meadow, who turned 15 in November. Tragically, witnesses say, she was on hand to support her dad at his Reach Out Worldwide charity car show in Santa Clarita, Calif., when Walker and friend Roger Rodas left for a spin in a Porsche Carrera GT and never came back.
Tales of Walker’s community activism philanthropy are well known as the actor was actively involved with a large number of charities and organizations working to help people in the United States and abroad but perhaps though most touching story came out of Santa Barbara from a time before Paul had found the success of the Fast and Furious sequels. Walker noticed a young U.S. soldier shopping with his fiancee for a wedding ring in a Santa Barbara jewelry store and “The groom was just back from duty in Iraq, and he was going to be deployed again soon and wanted to buy a wedding ring, but he said he just could not afford it,” saleswoman Irene King told CNN. “I don’t think the soldier realized how expensive those rings are, about $10,000.”
The couple apparently did not know who Walker was, King said.
“Walker called the manager over and said, ‘Put that girl’s ring on my tab,'” she said. “Walker left all his billing info, and it was a done deal. The couple was stunned. She was thrilled and could not believe someone did this.”
King called it “the most generous thing I have ever seen.”
‘Fast and Furious 7’ Movie Delayed
The scheduled shoot today of “The Fast and The Furious 7” has been canceled.
An individual with knowledge of the production schedule told TheWrap that director James Wan, producer Neal Moritz and Universal Pictures executives had been on the phone continually since the tragic news of the actors’ fatal car accident hit on Saturday evening.
The full implications of Paul Walker’s death for “The Fast and The Furious 7” won’t be determined until its cast and crew has had a chance to grieve, but plans to restart the shoot Monday in Atlanta after a holiday break have been scrapped.
Production was more than halfway done when Walker and business partner Roger Rodas were killed, according to two individuals close to the project. Walker and the “Furious” crew were on a Thanksgiving holiday break from production.
Shooting was scheduled for this week in Atlanta, including scenes with Walker, who as Brian O’Conner has been a lead character in every “Fast” movie except “Tokyo Drift.” The production was also slated to move to Abu Dhabi later this month, but it now seems extremely unlikely that the cameras will roll as planned.