Cars are a very big part of my life. I'll admit, I've rarely done track days, and only have some experience in computer simulation programs. I can't do much mechanical work beyond basic maintenance. Cars, for me, are a learning experience as much as they are a subject of passion and enthusiasm. I might not know all of the ins-and-outs of racing and only have a theoretical knowledge of how cars work, but they're a big part of my life and will be forever.
When I learned over the weekend that Paul Walker, Fast & The Furious actor and major gearhead, was killed, it knocked the wind out of me. Not only is it tragic that he was only 40 years old, but that he has been a huge influence on me and countless other car freaks the world over.
While The Fast and the Furious films may be a bit (read: quite a bit) goofy and implausible, they are fun. Ultimately, they're about cars, going fast. The first film in the series is what enveloped me in the world of tuning, mechanics, racing, and driving. I had always been an automotive enthusiast, but when I saw that film at the age of 13, my eyes were wide and my mouth was agape at just how much I had to learn. How much, in fact, I wanted to learn about my hobby. Paul Walker's character was identifiable, cool, and was often a bit like me: overwhelmed and enthusiastic about what he was driving and seeing. Walker was much that way in real life: he consumed car culture. He raced. He owned a bevy of enviable cars spanning decades. He used his racing talents and popularity to help those less fortunate. Even in real life, he was the kind of guy I wanted to meet and have a beer with.
That's what makes his death so tragic in the eyes of petrolheads the world over. A person a lot like us, who influenced our hobby so very integrally, ultimately died because of something very unavoidable. I won't comment too much on my own opinions of his accident, suffice it to say he was the passenger in a car that was clearly going way too fast for a public road.
I know this is a bit gloomy (and not at all related to photography), but his passing is perhaps the definitive period at the end of this statement:
Keep it safe on the roads, and keep speed to the track.