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Paul Walker killed in a drag race? Didn't happen, friend insists

Paul Walker

The high-performance Porsche that crashed on Saturday, killing "Fast and Furious" actor Paul Walker and his friend, was not street racing at the time, a friend said Monday.

Authorities are investigating whether speed was a factor in the crash, which occurred about 3:30 p.m. on Hercules Street, a normally quiet road with a 45-mph speed limit. Walker's friend, Roger Rodas, was driving the 2005 red Porsche Carrera GT when it slammed into a tree and concrete pole, bursting into flames.

The street is covered in skid marks, fueling speculation in some media reports that Rodas, a professional racer, was engaged in a speed contest at the time of the crash. But Jim Torp told reporters near the crash site Monday that the rumor wasn't true.

The Porsche, along with another car, had already been sold, so the men were not going out to be reckless, he said.

“I’m a good friend of theirs and I’m fighting for them because there’s been a lot of speculation about them drag racing, and that did not happen.”

He recalled how the tragedy unfolded, starting from the moment when Walker and Rodas slowly pulled out of the driveway as a charity event was winding down. A California Highway Patrol officer was parked just down the street, he added.

After they came back around for another pass and went out of sight, he and another car enthusiast listened to the sounds of the Porsche's exhaust to gauge its speed.

"You could hear the exhaust -- they got on it a little bit -- and I heard two booms," Torp said.

Smoke was visible from Always Evolving Performance Motors, a shop owned by Rodas that is located around the corner from the crash site.

Torp's 28-year-old son, Brandon, grabbed a fire extinguisher and headed up the hill, followed by about 20 other workers, the elder Torp said.

"There was nothing they could do," he told the Los Angeles Times.

He stressed to reporters that there were "no other cars around there, at all.”

He blamed the plethora of skid marks on younger drivers with souped-up cars.

“These kids use this area to drift all the time. And that’s exactly why we have all these tire marks around here," Jim Torp said.

Dozens of people and media gathered at the large makeshift memorial site of the crash Monday morning, just feet from a small tree scarred by the burning car. 

Among the dozens of burning candles set near the curb, a stack of DVDs -- each movie in the "Fast and Furious" franchise -- rested in a bed of flowers. A white wooden sign displayed "The Racer's Prayer" and a green bottle of Castrol motor oil was laid near several red toy cars.

[For the record, 7:02 p.m. Dec. 2: A previous version of this post misidentified Castrol motor oil as Castor.]

Alberto Ramirez, 19, of Downey was in Santa Clarita for a job interview and felt it was "the right thing to do" to come to the site.

"I was a fan since I was little watching his movies. I had to just stop by to take it all in. When I first heard it, I thought it was a hoax," he said.

At Always Evolving Performance Motors around the corner, a white sign taped to the door said "closed." A man and a distraught-looking woman who briefly walked outside declined to talk, closing the door behind them.

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