Fans of "Fast & Furious" star Paul Walker drove their own souped-up cars from far and wide to Valencia on Sunday to honor the late actor and pay tribute to a man they said inspired them.
Billed as a memorial rally and car cruise, the gathering at an industrial park where the actor and a friend were killed in a car crash gave fans an opportunity to remember Walker, whose fame as an undercover detective in the "Fast & Furious" movie franchise made him beloved to millions, and celebrate the high-octane culture of tuner cars.
With engines revving and echoing between warehouses, enthusiasts crowded around parked vehicles featured in the "Fast & Furious" films. There was the blue Nissan Skyline driven by Walker in "Fast Four" as well as the yellow Mazda RX7 from "Tokyo Drift."
Chris Harrel, 20, said the “Fast & Furious” movies influenced fan's choices of body kits, headlights, etc. He said he bought his 2003 blue Mitsubishi Evolution VIII because Walker drove one in the second installment of the series.
"All the guys out here wanted to be like him," said Harrel, who braved a 20-hour drive through ice and snow from Washinton state with his friend in order to make it to Sunday’s memorial.
The occasion gave Juan Coscarart, 31, the opportunity to show off his replica of the 1994 Toyota Supra that was featured in the franchise's first film. Coscarart, a contractor for Southern California Edison, spent four years -- and more than 1,000 hours -- working on the car, which he says is identical to the original, down to the decals.
Stepping to a canvas set up for memorial messages, Coscarart added his own homage to Walker: "I built my Supra because of you."
Walker, 40, and Roger Rodas, 38, died Nov. 30 when Rodas crashed his 2005 Porsche Carrera GT into a pole and a tree and the vehicle exploded in flames. Walker was a passenger in the vehicle.
The two had decided to go for a ride in the 600-horsepower car after attending a charity event sponsored by Reach Out Worldwide, Walker's nonprofit organization that provides assistance for disaster victims around the globe.
Walker died from a combination of injuries and burns suffered in the crash, according to coroner's officials. Rodas' death was the result of "multiple traumatic injuries," the coroner's office said.
L.A. County Sheriff's Department officials said speed was a factor in the crash, but that there was no evidence the two were involved in a street race.
"This is a reality check to everyone here," said Anthony Benavides, who along with his brother, Robert, joined nearly 100 other drivers from Oxnard at the memorial.
Even as the brothers wore sweatshirts that honored Walker and Rodas ("If one day the speed kills me, do not cry because I was smiling," was printed on the back), they also acknowledged the dangers of what some call "the drifting life."
"My mom told me every day since I was a kid, 'What you're building is a weapon,'" Benavides said.
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