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What Is to Blame for Paul Walker and Roger Rodas’ Car Crash?

Human error? Vehicle failure? The Fast and the Furious movies?

by
Becky Graebner

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December 2, 2013 - 9:15 am
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Actor Paul Walker and racer Roger Rodas are dead. The cherry-red Porsche Carrera GT they were in on Saturday is now a burned-out carcass.

The link between Walker in The Fast and the Furious series and the manner of his death is of course ironic, thus feeding the news frenzy. His claim to fame was portraying an illegal street racer. He broke the rules and lived on speed.

In real life, he was a 40-year-old dad and car enthusiast. He died in a car driven by Rodas, a racing buddy and personal friend. Rodas was an experienced race car driver, but something went horribly wrong.

Humans seek truth. We want to know why. We want to know how. We investigate and piece together clues in hopes of solving mysteries, allowing ourselves to sleep better at night. In this case, two men paid with their lives and we are wondering whom, or what, we can blame.

Joy-riding and Human Error?

Some articles on the fiery crash are suggesting that the existence of rubber around the crash scene indicates that Rodas and Walker were doing doughnuts and that goofing off might have led to the crash. The local sheriffs have also stated that they believe “high speeds” were also a factor.

I am uneasy with the quick assumption that idiocy was to blame (especially since the existence of rubber in figure 8 patterns still seems unconfirmed). We don’t know the cause yet. The car may have failed! Something snaps, something else bursts, and there go the brakes. Even the best drivers are sometimes no match for velocity + a stationary object.

Legendary driver Ayrton Senna was probably one of the best F1 drivers to live and he was killed in his race car. It is believed that his car’s suspension failed and pieces hit his helmet. His visor was also punctured—possibly by a tie rod. Even thought he was one of the greatest drivers, there was nothing he could do to save himself.  In the end, he died doing what he loved.

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Top Rated Comments   
Paul who?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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Stupid, stupid, stupid.

One wonders if the pre-crash conversation went like this:

"Here, hold my beer. Watch this!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This was a nice screed about love of racing, sort of. Racing takes place on a Race track not the street. I am not oblivious to street racing but I spent time involved in NHRA Racing in a semi-pro class. During those years I grew up and understood that the street is not the place and if showing off takes place, there is a big chance of loss and pain of some sort. S--t happens and that is life but this man walker has a child who will now be raised fatherless and that is sadder and RESPONSIBILITY is the measure of a man not his ability to go fast.
Last it is impossible to achieve the speeds and performance handling without good mechanics, not techs, without a good "Wrench" none of this happens and some credit to performance goes there. In my days as a "Crew Chief" when at parties and you might have a lovely young ladies interest until she discovered "You don't drive?" then walk away, usually politly. All pretty girls think of is dreamy drivers, not the one who make the car go!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Paul Walker always had a smile and died on the way to his own charity event.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You can with some success violate local and state ordinances regarding the safe operation of a motor vehicle, including speeding and reckless driving.

You cannot violate Newton's Laws of physics in an automobile with impunity. Inertia will kill you for it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Most likely, driver error killed the pair.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
idiots who thought that that rules of the road didn't apply to them. i have no sympathy. i have treated too many who were the victims of this type of activity. i'm glad that they killed only themselves.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
UPDATE: NBC news just claimed the car was only doing 45 mph (in a 15 mph curve). the damage to that car looks way worse than that to me.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Porches are notoriously squirrely, however, my guess is hubris.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's not ironic. His death would have been ironic if he had died in a 1998 Ford Escort going 20 mph.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Skidmarks indicate speed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
From what I've read the mid-engine Porsche Carrera GT is more prone to oversteer than most cars which are front-engine and it takes some effort and concentration to keep the back end from trying to pass the front end. In contrast, in a powerful front engine rear wheel drive car the natural tendency for the car to understeer tends to somewhat cancel oversteer caused by applying power to the real wheels. Losing control in a car like the Porsche Carrera GT can quickly become a spin while a front engine car like the Corvette generally drifts sideways.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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