Although headlines about the late Paul Walker dominate the press, the man who died alongside him in the tragic car crash is often overlooked.
Roger Rodas was not as famous as Paul but he left a legacy that was intimately intertwined with Walker's life, passions and ethics through both business and leisure.
So, let's take the time to learn about the person Walker spent his final moments with and honor his memory. After all, it's what Paul would have wanted.
A Close Friendship
Although Roger Rodas was Paul Walker's financial advisor, the pair were more like close friends than casual acquaintances.
After meeting in 2007, the car loving duo not only undertook competitive races together, but they also set up Paul's charity 'Reach Out Worldwide' as a partnership and co-owned an auto shop.
Those Left Behind
Image: Ambitious Misfit Photography
After Rodas' tragic death alongside Paul Walker, his friends told the press that they would remember the 38-year-old El Salvador native as a loving family man.
Understandably, Rodas' grieving family have stayed out of the public eye as much as possible, but it is known that he was survived by Kristine Rodas (a fitness instructor) and had two young children.
In a saddening turn of events, one of Rodas' young sons witnessed the burning wreckage of the crash at close hand. Jim Torp, a car enthusiast who was at the same charity event as Rodas and Walker told the press that:
I knew his son was heading towards the accident. And he got past me because he knew there was a fire and he wanted to see it. But he didn't know it was his dad until he saw the car
The Shop That Passion Built
Rodas and Walker co-owned 'Always Evolving,' an upmarket racing shop in Los Angeles.
Creating the shop had been one of Walker's longstanding dreams and Rodas' skill in the financial sector helped him to achieve it. The business partner's passion for cars is easy to see on the 'Always Evolving' website which writes:
Our roots are that of a small group of automotive addicts who wanted quality and knowledge as the basis for every performance mod, for every car we bought for our private collection, and for our race cars and team.
A relentless passion for automobiles drives us. We live to see one of our famous performance builds get unveiled. We lose sleep waiting for a recent purchase to get delivered to our dealer showroom
Roger Rodas was also the captain of the shops racing team that Paul Walker was also a member of.
Roger Rodas was a well known figure in his local community who weren't hesitant in pouring out their grief over his passing. A friend of Rodas told the press that:
He is a simple guy. He loves cars, he loves to drive. He's such a family person, too. Nothing but love, all from the heart
Along with being well known for his family orientated and community spirited nature, Roger Rodas also helped Walker to establish 'Reach Out Worldwide' and was an avid supporter of the charity.
On the day he died, Roger showed his dedication to the cause by assisting Walker at a charity benefit for victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
An Emotional Race
In one of the rare public quotes from Roger Rodas, he revealed his deeply personal and emotional journey into the world of racing. He explained:
I started racing when my best friend in the world was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. We wanted to pursue our lifelong passion and went to Bonduraunt 3 times while he was being treated to keep his mind off his battle.
The other day in Austin at Circuit of the Americas I was signing autographs as a Pro Driver in Pirelli World Challenge and Bob Bondaraunt sat next to me to sign autographs as well. We talked about how I started at his school and he remembered my friend Gerald and how he was racing with stage 4 cancer. Bob asked for my autograph. I could feel Gerald laughing at me from heaven and saying “don’t let it go to your head”
Rodas was passionate about car racing, which makes the way he died even more poignant and is a chilling warning that speed can kill anyone, no matter how experienced.
It was this love of racing that bought Rodas and Walker together, though. The pair first met at a race course when Paul noticed Roger was driving a car he used to own and went over to say hi.
Rodas has been demonized in some sections of the press because he was driving the car that ultimately killed Paul Walker, but it has to be remembered that he was a knowledgable driver who had every confidence in his abilities to drive at speed. As did Walker to trust him enough to ride as a passenger in the powerful Porsche.
The car itself was previously owned by the famous racer Graham Rahal who sold the car because "it was too hard to drive." A truly chilling comment in retrospect.
Although Rodas' family has tried to sue Porsche for the crash, the lawsuit was not successful.
Walker Family Reaction
There has been confusion about the Walker family's attitude towards Rodas due to a recent lawsuit against 'Always Evolving' from Paul's surviving relatives.
This lawsuit over $1.8 million of cars that Paul and Roger reportedly co-owned being held by Rodas' late family has been misreported a few times as Walker's family suing Rodas for the crash, but that is simply not true.
In 2013, a source close to the family told Hollywood Life that his family did not blame Rodas for the accident. The statement reads:
His family is not going there. This is not a time for blame and anger for them — that would be the worst way to honor Paul’s memory. They are focused on love. Paul would never want them to place blame on Roger, he was a dear friend who lost his life too. Roger’s family is suffering the same way they are, his kids lost their dad. It’s a horrific time for everyone and pointing fingers isn’t going to bring Paul back. Right now his family and friends are focused on remembering all the amazing times they had with Paul. They feel grateful to have had him in their lives. He was such a light and a force for good on earth. It’s still so hard to believe he’s gone