Roger Rodas, 38, has been named as the driver in the crash that killed Fast and the Furious star Paul Walker, reports Perez Hilton. Rodas was further confirmed as the other victim of the tragedy by ABC Los Angeles.
A witness to the tragedy told TMZ:
Him and his buddy, his brother in arms at heart just decided to joyride, take a spin. Something we all do. We’re all car enthusiasts. ... We’re all here driving, enjoying each other, and God must’ve needed help.
It’s a little difficult to know what it was. Someone called it in and said it was a vehicle fire ... We all ran around and jumped in cars and grabbed fire extinguishers and immediately went to the vehicle. It was engulfed in flames. There was nothing. They were trapped. Employees, friends of the shop. We tried. We tried. We went through fire extinguishers.
Rodas had much success in business and in his hobby, car racing, but CBS Los Angeles reports, "he will be remembered as a loving family man."
Here's what you need to know the driver on Walker's fateful journey:
1. He Was the CEO of a Custom Car Shop
Rodas was the co-owner of a car customization store, Always Evolving, in Santa Clarita, California. Walker was named as a co-owner of the shop. Always Evolving, describes itself as, "The source for all of your automotive passions."
Walker described the business in an interview in April 2013 saying:
I have a performance shop called AE Performance and we do race prep and all that stuff out in Valencia. So I have a couple partners and we all race together. It's a family business basically. We brought in friends and people coming from different economic backgrounds, let's just say, but it's cool because everyone gets to have their cake and eat it too. Eric Davis, Roger Rodas, Rich Taylor, Casey Adamo are just a handful of the guys involved.
2. He Raced With Paul Walker
— KEITH SWEAT PANTS (@HellaBootsy) December 1, 2013
Rodas had raced with Walker in the Pirelli World Challenge Series.
According to Auto Week:
They ended up racing together at events like the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, but his schedule limited Walker's racing mostly to time attack-type events at Buttonwillow or other California tracks.
3. He Worked in Charities With Paul Walker
Rodas was driving his car, a Porsche Carrera GT, which was on display at a car show in his building to another event, the Reach Out Worldwide charity show in Los Angeles. The charity had been founded by Walker while he was part of an aid response team to the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. The particular event that Walker and Rodas where en route to on November 30, was set up to collect toys for children affected by the typhoon in the Philippines.
A profile described Reach Out Worldwide as:
A network of volunteer first responders who are experts in their individual fields, consisting of heavy equipment operators, paramedics, firefighters and healthcare specialists. Paul Walker, a race car driver in his own right and Ford Racing Boss 302s owner, has come to us to spread awareness for his disaster relief organization.
also RIP Roger Rodas, CEO of Always Evolving Motorsports pic.twitter.com/6OQstRXncM
— matt wooddy (@mwooddy) December 1, 2013
Rodas was involved in other charities such as The Asomugha Foundation. In addition to that charitable endeavors, he owned Cielo Recycling, recycling plant in Central America and is also active in "waste to energy power plants and wind farms" in Central America.
Walker said of the pair's charitable efforts:
Instead of just writing a check, we're seeing how much more bang for the buck we can get by giving of ourselves and spending every dollar on the cause. As tragic as the disasters are, people consistently rise above the bleakness by focusing on what they still have. It gives you a lot of hope.
4. He Was a Merrill Lynch Employee
An online profile states that Rodas was, "one of America's top wealth management advisors and portfolio managers, with an impressive list of clients," this was in addition to his role with Always Evolving. Rodas and Walker's friendship evolved over a shared passion for cars, it eventually morphed into a professional relationship where Rodas became Walker's financial adviser. A Merrill Lynch profile of the pair says:
The two struck up a conversation when Walker noticed Rodas driving a Porsche GT3 he had previously owned. Soon the two were racing side by side, as when they teamed recently with two professional drivers in a pro-am 25-hour endurance race in Thunder Hill, Calif. As their friendship developed, Walker occasionally asked Rodas for financial advice, and they began working together formally as client and Financial Advisor in 2007.
The first item on their agenda was reorganizing Walker's portfolio, a hodgepodge of personal investments. Rodas suggested a diversified, relatively conservative portfolio of stocks, bonds, cash and alternative investments, aimed mostly at preserving capital. And because an actor's income is sporadic, each time Walker completes another film, he and Rodas meet to re-evaluate his financial strategy to help make sure his long-term goals stay on track.
The same profile states that Rodas had worked at Merrill Lynch/Bank of America for 20 years (the profile is undated) and has been named on a list of America's Top 1000 Financial Advisers in 2010, 2011 and in 2012.
5. He Was Originally From El Salvador
Rodas had only turned 38 on Halloween 2013. As a competitive racer he had raced eight times in 2013. When racing this past April, Rodas crashed into a wall at a Pirelli World Challenge practice session at Long Beach. In order to compete in the actual race, Paul Walker allowed Rodas to borrow his Ford Mustang Boss 302S. His biggest success while racing saw him win second place in the Pirelli Porsche Driver's Cup Series championship in 2012.
He was a simple guy. He loves cars, he loves to drive. He’s such a family person, too. Nothing but love, all from the heart.