A tragic setting that’s drawn thousands to the Santa Clarita Valley in past years held a relatively subdued scene Thursday as fans and mourners stopped by Hercules Street and Constellation Road, where actor Paul Walker and friend Roger Rodas died in a fiery crash 10 years ago.
Past events on the street tucked away next to Rye Canyon Business Park in Santa Clarita have been organized by car clubs and groups that support the actor’s work.
In conversations with car buffs and Walker aficionados who have made the trek over the years, many have recognized the significance of the actor’s most famous role, as an original lead in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise.
It brought mainstream attention to car culture and street racing, according to one fan, who mentioned how the series helped popularize the previously underground scene.
“Everything from the cars and the car culture that was appropriated into the film industry, and just the characters that were written, very provocative,” said Evan Gallegos, who was one of a half-dozen who were at the site around 4 p.m. Thursday.
“I expected there to be more people,” he said, adding that he drove up from Tustin on Thursday morning to pay his respects for the first time this year.
A big fan of Walker’s marquee series, he said he’s seen all of them but the 10th installment, which was released in May. Walker was featured in six of the movies, including the seventh installment, “Furious 7,” which was completed after his November 2013 crash, with digital assistance and help from his brothers.
“It’s everything from how it was written and the plot to how it came together to turn it into a national treasure,” Gallegos added.
Gallegos said he wasn’t really involved in the street racing scene as much anymore, but it was a part of his past.
“It has helped cultivate a love of cars, because of the movie and just street racing in general,” Gallegos said of the movies. “It’s a fun but dangerous sport.”
Walker and Rodas, who ran Always Evolving Performance Motors, were in Santa Clarita to support Walker’s local nonprofit Reach Out Worldwide on Nov. 30, 2013, when Rodas crashed the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT and it burst into flames down the street from Rodas’ shop.
Lawsuits against Porsche ended in confidential settlements with the Rodas and Walker families.
Robert Burruss said he came up from Los Angeles around noon because Paul Walker was his favorite actor, adding he also came to the site in September for Walker’s birthday.
“He’s always been my favorite movie star,” said Burruss, adding his favorite is still the first installment in which Walker drove a now-famous 2000 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R. (The car sold at an auction in May for more than $1.36 million, according to performance car magazine Magneto, another testament to Walker’s enduring appeal.)
Both Burruss and Gallegos said they enjoyed talking to other fans who also stopped by throughout the day.
“I would have felt awful if I wouldn’t have been able to come here today,” he said, naming some lesser-known Walker movies that he enjoyed, including “Hours” and “Joy Ride.”
On the first few anniversaries of the deaths, thousands drove past the spot where Walker’s crash occurred.
In May 2018, College of the Canyons hosted the In Memory of Paul car show in May, which also brought Walker’s brothers, Cody and Caleb, to the SCV to support Reach Out Worldwide. Paul Walker started that nonprofit after the 2010 Haiti earthquake to respond to disasters overseas. The following year, the car show fundraiser moved to Anaheim. It returned to Los Angeles in 2023.