"When you put goodwill out there, it's amazing what can be accomplished."
- Paul Walker
Words and Photography: Jonny Smith
Today, November 30th will always be a sad day in the calendar, not just for us car enthusiasts, but to the world as a whole. It was the unfortunate day both Paul Walker and Roger Rodas lost their lives in an unexpected and unfortunate accident whilst traveling from a Reach out World Wide charity event.
Personally, I don't think I'll forget that evening, late-night scrolling through Tumblr and various car forums when the first reports and blog posts came through. It still feels surreal and the evening wasn't just one bad nightmare. You'd never begin to think about how two amazing humans could be taken in their prime in such a devastating way.
For a lot of us, we knew Paul Walker through his undoubted love of all things cars and when he first graced our screens back in 2001 co-starring with Vin Diesel in The Fast and Furious. But he wasn't just another movie star who happened to be in a film a lot of us had an interest in, but someone who had a deep-down passion for cars, way before we saw him in the cinema. From the way he would get all excited when visiting a garage in Japan, co-owning his own tuning garage Always Evolving with business partner and great friend Roger Rodas, and both of their overwhelming collection of cars, we all shared that connection. It was the beginning of an important era, growing and spanning into what is now, one of the most successful movie franchises and also the most diverse the car world has ever been.
Everyone knows many of the great Brian O'Connor lines and, of course, the orange ten-second Supra!
The Fast and Furious franchise hasn't been the only greatness Paul gifted this world. He was someone who always appreciated the world in all it's beauty and always wanted to help others and do good. There was a high interest in Marine Biology, he said that one of the coolest things he'd done in life was tagging his first Great White shark. As that wasn't enough to give back, after seeing the destruction of the Boxing Day Tsunami back in 2004 he felt awful and wanted to do something to help.
So fast forward a few years and again seeing the devastating destruction an earthquake that hit Haiti, Paul spontaneously organized a relief team to support the affected area. Whilst there, Paul noticed a distinct gap between the availability and need for certain skills in post-disaster situations. This is where Paul, with the help of Roger Rodas and a team of skilled persona, set up and started the non-profit organization, Reach out World Wide. This was, and still is Paul's way of giving back and "Fulfilling the unmet need". Paul found these trips fascinating, always learning and building his own knowledge so that next time he and the team would be even more prepared for the next time. Traveling around the world and close to home, he and the small teams gave aid and hope too much less fortunate people whose lives had been destroyed. Today ROWW continues to respond to natural disasters, often being one of the first contacts to affected areas and still operates on the philosophy that by making a difference in just one person's life, the world has been changed for the better.
"We strive to elevate Paul’s simple idea of helping others to create a lasting legacy he would be proud of and will be forever felt worldwide" - ROWW
With Paul's death, Cody Walker, his younger brother took control and has carried on Paul's vision. Not only with ROWW but also with the birth of FuelFest. Co-founded with Chris Lee, and with help from one of Paul's greatest friends on and off the screen, Tyrese Gibson, it's become a worldwide event spanning the globe, celebrating passion and art through cars and music.
With the latest Fast and Furious filming happening in London and Edinburgh over the summer, it was a perfect time for the show to hit the UK being hosted at The Warren Estate in Essex. With plenty of cars from the films, people from all over the country and even Channel attending, a huge diversity on show. Cars such as the newly released McLaren Senna to a hoard of Nissan GTR's, LM inspired Dodge Viper, RWB Porsche and some of the cars featured in the films and live action shows, there was something for all tastes.
As you could tell, with a show connected to Paul, many Nissan R34's and Toyota Supra's were in attendance.
I really enjoyed this Metro with a B16 slotted in the engine bay it was a genuine surprise and hidden gem.
There was lots of music and entertainment available throughout the day to keep everyone occupied. A guest appearance from Tyrese Gibson was certainly a highlight for a lot. Crowding around the stage to see him talk. He is one great man to see in front of an audience and whilst doing so on stage he talked about Paul, his friendship with him, about his legacy and how FuelFest represented everything his late friend believed in as a huge car enthusiast and advocate for charity. It was a speech that was recognized and praised throughout the crowds as we all thought about Paul.
Our good friend Chris Phillips managed to swoop in taking advantage of an opening whilst Cody walked between sponsor and trade stands back to the VIP area.
With the day coming to a close, crowds slowly dispursing and cars pulling out of the Warren Estate, a great day had come to close. Chris and I felt privileged to have been apart of. With the first Fuel Fest here in the UK over, it was a huge success and I'm sure we'll be seeing Cody and Tyrese returning in the future to carry on this fantastic adventure paying tribute to the great Paul Walker.
Writing this has been quite a bittersweet moment. It's sad that we lost such an incredible human being but at the same time, it's great to look back at the good he gave whilst he was alive. I've read and watched quite a lot about Paul and what he accomplished in his life. If there's one thing I'll take away it is how much Paul cared for everyone around him, something the world desperately needs as a whole. If only more people though and cared as he did!
You're truly missed in many ways by so many people!
"I don't care what it is in life, listen to your heart. If you do, no matter what, you win."- Paul Walker
I'll leave you with my full gallery of the day below.