Editor’s note: Cody Walker is the brother of the late ‘The Fast & the Furious’ star Paul Walker, CEO of Reach Out WorldWide and the founder of RevWear. He spoke with us from Guatemala, where he was on a medical relief mission.
This interview is part of a weeklong series about “The Fast & Furious” and its impact on the car world.
ClassicCars.com Journal: The Fast and the Furious debuted 17 years ago this week and made a big splash in the car world, especially with younger drivers. You were in middle school when it came out. Walk us through what it was like seeing it for the first time.
Cody: When the first The Fast & the Furious came out, nobody really knew what to expect. It took the whole world by surprise. Paul was up-and-coming, but he was not like this big name or anything like that. Vin [Diesel] had done some cool flicks like Pitch Black but he wasn’t this big movie star yet. They put together this really diverse cast and went for it.
I went to the premiere and I loved it. I couldn’t get over it. I couldn’t stop thinking about the little Honda Civics going underneath the semi-trucks. I was going, “Is that possible? How did they do that?”
CCJ: What was it like seeing Paul on the big screen?
Cody: Being the little brother, it was really exciting seeing Paul land such a successful movie but it wasn’t weird or anything like that. For a lot of people, it was “Oh my gosh, he’s so handsome. He’s so this, he’s so that,” and I was like, “Yeah, that’s my big brother. He picks his nose. He farts. He picks on me sometimes, but he’s pretty OK.” It was a really cool moment and my whole family was so proud of him.
CCJ: Did you spend any time on set with him? If so, any good stories?
Cody: I remember being on set for 2 Fast 2 Furious. The idea was to have the R34 slide in at the end of the race with everybody cheering. They go, “We’re going to have a stunt guy do that” and Paul goes, “No! Screw that! I can do that.” [Director] John Singleton goes, “Let the boy do it.”
They had the camera operator out in the middle of the street and Paul has to come in and do this big e-brake turn and stop on the mark. This cameraman just glues his feet to the asphalt and Paul comes in and lands this mark perfectly within six inches of this guy. I’m sure that’s got to be against some rule somewhere (laughs). He just nailed it. It was pretty epic. Everyone was so stoked.
CCJ: The cast has some big names. Who was your favorite out of Paul’s costars?
Cody: It’s hard for me to say who my favorite would be. It’s a family. They all have their own personalities. Vin has always been super awesome and Tyrese is just a jokester. He’s just lightening the mood at all times on the set. It’s like, “Alright dude, we need to get the job done here. What are you doing,” and he’s just goofing off all the time.
CCJ: What impact do you think that film — and the numerous sequels — has had on both Hollywood and cars?
Cody: I think it put tuner cars on the map. I don’t think a lot of young people knew what an R34 or even a Supra was, to be completely honest with you. The mainstream had no idea about the underground car racing scene and a lot of young people, especially those who grew up in the United States, knew the classic cars — the Chevy Chevelle, things like that. It made the tuner scene cooler in a way because it was the first time anything like that had been shown in a feature.
CCJ: You recently hosted the inaugural In Memory of Paul car show after planning it in just a few weeks. How did it go?
Cody: Oh my gosh, it was just incredible. We had thousands of people there and, when your biggest problem is the venue is not large enough to house the number of people that want to be there, it’s a good problem to have. We had thousands of people there and we had to steer away at least 2,000 that did not get into the show. It was a smash hit, a smash success and I’m just so grateful everybody took the time to come out to the show with such short notice.
Our Sunday Car Show #inmemoryofpaul was a massive hit! Thank you all for coming out and suppporting Paul’s foundation @reachoutww. Thank you @4chrislee for your dedication and hard working team that made this a reality. When we met about 6 weeks ago I wasn’t sure we could pull this off in time…how wrong I was. Thank you to my brother @seanlee768 and his @puristgroup for always having our back and guiding us through the entire process and connecting us to the best people in the industry. Thank you @redlinegaugeworks @jaylenosgarage @iamlizferrin @petrolgirl for joining us on such short notice and opening doors to make this such a huge success. Thank you to the sponsors @yokohamatire @garagegoals.official @movocash @alwaysevolving @teslamotors @stonefiregrill And a massive thank you to all of the incredible volunteers that worked their asses off! We could not have done this without all of YOU! Pdub is proud. Much love 🤙
CCJ: Any plans to expand to other cities?
Cody: I want to keep the In Memory of Paul event in Los Angeles. That’s where it all started. That’s where it all was. I do have some other things up my sleeve personally that I want to bring to various markets across the United States. All I can say at this time is that it’s called Carchella. Use your imagination.
CCJ: Since your brother passed, he has become a James Dean-esque figure for younger car enthusiasts. How has the car community supported your family since that tragic day?
Cody: I get letters, gifts, well-wishes from the car community all the time; I get little figurines, die-cast cars, custom-made art, sketches of Paul. I get so many different things by so many different, incredible,talented people from all over the world. I share it with my family and it’s just such a cool feeling. We loved him. We knew him. It’s such an incredible thing to know how loved he was by people that never even met him that were affected by him, that were affected by how humble he was. I can’t thank the car community enough for that because the whole healing process it’s been a very special thing to know how much he was loved and how much he was missed and how much he was appreciated by so many people from all over the world.
Not only that, but the support that the car community has shown by their contributions to his foundation, Reach Out WorldWide. They are the primary driving force that has kept this organization alive. Reach Out WorldWide would not exist without the car community. Period.
CCJ: Speaking of ROWW, what are you doing in Guatemala?
Cody: Our primary mission is medical so we’re helping the people that survived the volcano. At ground zero, it’s just recovery efforts. It’s been two weeks. They’re not going to find anyone alive underneath the structures or the ground at this point. We’re there supporting the workers and the local community that managed to survive and get out of town in time. We have a great team and it’s been a very humbling experience.
CCJ: Wow. How long do you plan to have people on the ground?
Cody: Reach Out WorldWide will be here for just shy of a week after I leave. The rest of the 14-person team leaves on the 25th.
CCJ: How can people help?
Cody: They can go on our website. Internationally, we’re looking for medical professionals — EMTs, paramedics, nurses, doctors, physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners — domestically, we’ll take everybody. It’s a lot of manual labor-type of work. We have all the tools necessary for the job. We provide the training, we provide the tools.
CCJ: OK, last question: What was your favorite car in the series?
Cody: The Toyota Supra is really cool, I just prefer the [Nissan Skyline] GT-R, the R34.
Read our other “The Fast and the Furious” coverage: