RIP Paul Walker & Roger Rodas

Article and Photograph by:
Bryan Fross

In the Automotive World, we are all connected. Whether it be through our love for customs, classics, hot rods, motorcycles, racing, drifting or anything else we can think of. It doesn’t matter if you have just started driving and want to modify your ride or if you are a celebrity with a passion for going fast.

Over the weekend, news spread quickly that Paul Walker and Roger Rodas were killed in an auto accident near a charity car event in Valencia, California. The initial focus by the media was the irony in which Paul Walker lost his life since he is an actor and main character in the blockbuster Fast & Furious movie franchise. When I heard the news, it peaked my curiosity and I was following the different reports like everyone else. Realizing that the reports were true, I remembered back to a picture I had taken of him at SEMA 2010. There is nothing particularly significant about the picture but I am a Photographer with a Photographic Memory so if I shot it, I usually know right where to find it on the SoCalCustoms.com website. I had a few people walking the show with me at the time and I tried to get one of them to wait in line for an autograph so they could tell Paul that ‘Tokyo Drift’ was their favorite movie from the ‘Fast & Furious’ series. Of course, Walker wasn’t in that one so he would have gotten a laugh out of the awkward comment.

Paul Walker SEMA 2010

Paul was there promoting Fast 5 at the time as well as signing autographs in the booth for Hankook Tires, a sponsor of the race team and shop he was a partner in along with Roger called Always Evolving. After filming the first Fast & Furious movie, Paul was hooked on highly modified cars. By the beginning of the second film, he had a Nissan Skyline from Japan here in the US and it was used in the opening scenes of that movie. He had found an aspect of the lifestyle that all of us as enthusiasts enjoy.

He may have been in blockbuster movies but by all accounts, he was not a “Hollywood type”. His Twitter Page tagline describes him as an “Outdoorsman, ocean addict, adrenaline junkie… and I do some acting on the side”. Paul was involved in many charity events. He had spent countless hours helping raise money and awareness during relief efforts after earthquakes in Chile and Haiti in 2010. The event he was at this weekend was taking place for the charity closest to him and the organization he founded, Reach Out Worldwide.

Paul wasn’t someone who would just write a check and lend his name to an organization; he was the heart and soul of Reach Out WorldWide. Paul was the first one in and the last one out, he led by example and his hard work and dedication inspired everyone who had the privilege of working with him. He led one of the first teams into the hardest hit areas of Haiti and traveled to Chile to bring water, medical aid and hope after the Earthquake and Tsunami. He ran a chainsaw clearing debris and helping people get back into their homes during the hottest days after the tornados in Alabama… Some people play a hero, Paul was a hero. Paul was an honorable, hardworking, dedicated, respectful man with a humble spirit who shared his blessings with those who needed it most. It was an honor and a privilege to be able to work with, learn and look up to someone who walked the walk. – JD Dorfman, Reach Out Worldwide

Paul’s passing may be looked at as a tragic car accident, another ironic death of a celebrity or a simple case of bad things happening to good people. In any case, the Automotive World lost an ambassador who was not only involved in bringing our way of life to new enthusiasts through the movies he starred in, but also an example of the good things a person can do with their celebrity status.

Paul Walker leaves behind his 15-Year-Old Daughter and Roger Rodas is survived by his Wife and 2 Children.

We are all connected in the Automotive World. Whether it is just for a second at a small gathering or at the World’s Largest Car Show.