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“The Fast and the Furious” star Paul Walker, 40, dies in car crash (UPDATED)


Actor Paul Walker, known for his major role in the popular “The Fast and the Furious” racing movie franchise, has been confirmed dead following a fiery auto accident this afternoon in Valencia, California, north of Los Angeles.

According to NBC 4 Los Angeles, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said that deputies responded to the crash at 6:30 p.m. ET. When they arrived, a car was found on fire and was then extinguished by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Walker’s official Facebook page issued the following statement:

Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene and the accident is under investigation at this time.

Universal Pictures, the studio for the “The Fast and the Furious,” has also issued their own statement on the tragedy:

“All of us at Universal are heartbroken. Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the FAST AND FURIOUS films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”

In addition to his work on the silver screen, Walker was also a part-time racer in real life. In 2010, he competed in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance event. Walker was a business partner in the Always Evolving race team, which competes in the Pirelli World Challenge and other sports car racing series.

source:  UPDATE, 10:00 a.m. ET, Sunday: Following various reports that released the second name of the driver broke last night, it has been confirmed that driver was Roger Rodas, 38, and the CEO of the Always Evolving auto performance shop. Rodas’ Valencia-based shop hosted a charity toy drive/fundraiser for Typhoon Haiyan victims on Saturday afternoon, where the pair then left from after the event had ended.

Rodas just completed his rookie season in the Pirelli World Challenge and finished 13th in a field of more than 40 drivers in the series’ GTS class, with a best finish of fifth place in Toronto in 10 starts. Rodas’ philanthropic work included supporting Reach Out Worldwide, which Walker founded, and The Asomugha Foundation.

Walker Photo Credit: Eamonn McCormick/WireImage; Rodas Photo Credit: Mark Weber/PWC

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.