AUTOLIFER | Paul Walker and Roger Rodas

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By now you have surely heard the news about the tragic death of Paul Walker and Roger Rodas. Though as a whole, we all mourn the loss of any of those whose life has been cut short; but the outpouring of sentiment from the tuner community in particular over the loss of Walker and Rodas has been overwhelming. In our media engulfed society news of celebrities meteoric rises, unseemly descents and untimely deaths are an everyday occurrence; leading many to ask why the passing of Walker has received so much and such heartfelt attention from a community not known for tender sentiments.
 
Walker is of course known best for his role in the import/street racing film series The Fast and the Furious. To those outside of the community this might appear to be the only connection to the tuning world but that simply is not the case; but lets address the elephant in the room. The F&F franchise has been both loved and mocked by the tuning world since its inception over twelve years ago. Regardless to your feeling about the movies the undeniable fact is this. Though the tuning world was millions strong, before the movies it was more or less underground, after the movies everyone in the world knew about us.

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For many, the green and carbon black GSX was the first properly tuning import they had ever seen. The sights, sounds and feeling of the scene, though highly dramatized, captivated viewers and helped to turn the automotive world into what it is today. After the premiere of the first film posters of Nissan’s and Mitsubishi’s were going up on bedroom walls where Ferrari and Lamborghini used to reside. Words like Turbo, NOS and Boost became household words even to those who had never owned a high performance vehicle. In short, these films took the tuning, street and drift scenes out of the shadows and onto the main-stage; and through it all Paul Walker was the face of the garage tuner.

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The films, however, were only a part of the actors involvement in the automotive world.
 
Paul Walker:

My grandfather was a race car driver. For me, cars are a hobby that’s turned into a real business. It’ll always be a big part of who I am. that’s for sure, not to mention the Fast and Furious component.

 
Many do not know the extent of the actors involvement in the automotive world. Walker was not only a car enthusiast but an active member of the scene. He owned an extensive collection of performance vehicles. However, unlike many actors who go for showy high dollar cars the Walker collection might surprise you. Along with the standard Hollywood flash of Lamborghini and Ferrari you will find the likes of the Ford Escort Cosworth and Mustangs, a classic 70’s Smokey and the Bandit style Pontiac Trans Am, a BMW 2002 and an E36 M3, a Nissan Skyline and Toyota Supra.

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Walker was also an avid race car driver, in fact, it was on the track that he met Roger Rodas; himself a passionate racer and car enthusiast. The two men became close friends and soon opened a tuning company AE Performance who do everything from race prep to manufacturing performance parts. The men also enjoyed racing as teammates and it was common to see them on the roads together.

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The two men were dedicated family men, generous philanthropists, savvy businessmen, passionate racers, active members of the automotive world/tuning scene and in the case of Walker, the face of the tuning world in Hollywood. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families; they will be missed dearly.
 
Words: Hunter McLeod
Photos: Various
 

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