Speed aficionados know the crash site well, on the far side of the 5 Freeway from the Magic Mountain theme park. They come to try their hand at "drifting," over-steering so that the tail ends of their Nissans and Mitsubishis slide and shimmy through a spot called Hercules Curve.
On Saturday, Walker was the passenger in a $400,000 sports car zooming down a Santa Clarita industrial park road. Investigators say Walker and driver Roger Rodas were in a Porsche Carrera GT whey they slammed into trees and a concrete light standard. Both the 40-year-old actor and his 38-year-old friend were burned beyond recognition.
Investigators are still trying to determine how fast the 605-horsepower Porsche was going. The cars are capable of reaching 60 mph in under four seconds and 100 mph in under seven.
But saddened car enthusiasts had already drawn one conclusion: They had lost one of their own. Walker was not just an actor, who was to return this week to filming his sixth "Fast and Furious" movie, but a real car "tuner" and a serious driver who had a need for speed.
Like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman before him, Walker's enthusiasm for cars went well beyond the Hollywood screen. The Glendale native had made enough money that he kept a warehouse full of prized vehicles and later opened a business, Always Evolving, that customized and sold high-performance cars.
Rodas, who had started as the actor's financial advisor, helped Walker set up Always Evolving, a popular spot to fix or ogle street racers. And the two took to racing together, including in a 25-hour endurance race several years ago in which they teamed with two professional drivers.
The two had been holding a fundraiser at their car shop Saturday to raise money for survivors of the typhoon in the Philippines when they decided to take the Porsche out for a spin. A few minutes later, witnesses reported hearing a boom and others happened upon the sleek red sports car engulfed in flames on Hercules Street.
<a href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=7b79f60fcd">L.A. Now Live: A chat with the Times newsroom</a>