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

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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

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.