Apparently I’m at that age (6 months from turning 30) where I’ve started to think like a parent. I’m sitting at the office of the entertainment/pop culture website where I’ve been volunteering my services and the topic of Paul Walker’s death came up. My opinion was vastly different from those of the 22 and 23 year-olds surrounding me. They felt that it was a tragic loss. I felt the same, obviously. But I also felt that it was the result of two grown men acting incredibly irresponsibly and stupidly. Walker starred in the car chase-filled, action-packed franchise Fast and Furious, but real life is not a movie set. Accidents can happen. And speeding/joy-riding around L.A. foolishly and recklessly is enough to get yourselves killed. And unfortunately, that was exactly the result. No one is invincible, and I can imagine how sitting behind the wheel or in the front seat of a sports car and feeling the wind on your cheeks would be a thrill and a high that nothing else could fulfill. But you need to make wise decisions when driving. Walker famously fell in love with cars and racing, making it a major hobby/past time in his life, which unfortunately led to an early death.
“Paul Walker came to love the culture through the film,” said Carter Jung, a former editor of Import Tuner and a technical consultant on the fifth movie in the franchise, in a story in the L.A. Times. Walker warmed to the car culture of ‘tuning,’ in which gearheads make Japanese imports faster and flashier, a trend portrayed in the original Fast and Furious in which he starred in. Walker even bought his own Nissan Skyline GT-R, the car his character drove. “He wasn’t from the scene — he grew to love the GT-Rs. He was thrust into this whole subculture that was booming, and he embraced it,” said Jung.
Walker showed up at races and events, and he partnered with his financial advisor, Roger Rodas, to start Always Evolving, a business that customized and sold high-performance cars. He apparently was known among local car enthusiasts as a down-to-earth fan and was always eager to talk to owners about their cars.
Walker and Rodas were at their Valencia shop for a charity event this past Saturday when they decided to take a Porsche Carrera GT sports car for a spin. The car is notoriously difficult to handle, even for professional drivers and has three times the horsepower of the average car. Maybe not the best choice for a cruise around town.
CNN.com stated some reasons why the Porsche Carrera GT is unlike other street cars:
1) It has a top speed of 208 mph, a very high-revving V10 engine and more than 600 horsepower. “This was not a car for novices,” Eddie Alterman, editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine, told CNN. “Actually, the Carrera GT program began as a racing program.”
Todd Trimble, an exotic car mechanic in Las Vegas, told CNN the Carrera GT is a “very hard car to drive. It’s (a) pure racer’s car. You really need to know what you’re doing when you drive them. And a lot of people are learning the hard way.”
2) The engine is in the middle. Having the engine in the middle of the car means it’s more agile and turns more quickly than a car that has its engine in the front or in the rear.
The Carrera GT is able to change direction “very quickly, very much like a race car,” Alterman said. “It was beyond a super car. It is what we call a hyper car.”
3) It has no stability control. The Carrera GT is unusual because it has no electronic stability control. That means it’s unforgiving with mistakes.
“Stability control is really good at correcting slides, keeping the car from getting out of shape,” race car driver Randy Pobst said. Alterman told CNN that learning to drive a car like this one is extremely difficult.
As we all know, the car slammed into a couple of trees and a light pole a few minutes later and burst into flames, killing them both. Investigators said the car was speeding above the 45-mph limit, but reported that it was unclear exactly how fast it was traveling. I hate to be a pessimist but it’s probably safe to say that it far exceeded the speed limit.
Walker was gorgeous and charismatic and it is awful that he passed away along with his close friend. But please, everyone, be smart on the road. Cars are not toys, no matter how pretty they are and how good they make you feel. Drive safely and carefully and respect the road. Or you can end up killed and be just another senseless headline.
Hubba hubba. The angels get to drool over you now!