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Past Times

When death of Paul Walker brought the Fast and the Furious to Kirkcaldy

The death of Fast and the Furious icon Paul Walker 10 years ago sparked unprecedented scenes at the unlikely setting of Kirkcaldy waterfront. reports.
Graeme Strachan
The noise on Kirkcaldy Esplanade was incredible in 2013 as the cars all revved in tribute to Paul Walker. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.
The noise was incredible in 2013 as the cars all revved in tribute to Paul Walker. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

The death of Fast and the Furious icon Paul Walker 10 years ago sparked unprecedented scenes at the unlikely setting of Kirkcaldy waterfront.

During a few days off from filming Furious 7, Walker had been passenger in a Porsche Carrera GT driven by his friend in California on November 30 2013.

The Porsche struck a tree and a lamp post.

Both men died at the scene.

Walker was 40.

His end came in a blaze of flames.

Fast and the Furious hero Paul Walker. Image: Shutterstock.

The crash site became a mecca for mourning fans to leave tributes to the late actor.

Walker rode the Fast and the Furious franchise to stardom, starring in all but one of the six action blockbusters, beginning in 2001.

The blond, blue-eyed LA native brought California surfer good looks and an easy charm to the popular street-racing series.

Several events around the world were organised by heartbroken roadsters in tribute to Walker.

These included one in Kirkcaldy where 4,500 car enthusiasts were invited to the town’s promenade by N/A Nonsense Racing.

People, cars and police on Kirkcaldy Esplanade at night
Kirkcaldy was overwhelmed by the sounds and sights in 2013. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

Kirkcaldy Esplanade was no stranger to hosting big, noisy events.

It’s the annual home of Europe’s longest street fair, the Links Market, and has been the setting for the televised razzamatazz of Tour Series professional cycling.

However, because of long-standing concerns about drag racing and public safety, police warned anybody attending the event that only their best behaviour would do.

Kirkcaldy had never seen anything like Paul Walker tribute

Upwards of 2,500 sparkling and souped-up cars slowly tugged their engines through the Fife town in a massive rolling tribute to the movie star.

Convoys of vehicles travelled from as far afield as Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow to pay homage to the Fast and the Furious actor.

Some turned up in fancy dress at the memorial event in 2013. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson
Some turned up in fancy dress at the memorial event in 2013. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

The roads and car parks at the esplanade quickly became gridlocked amid a sea of headlights as participants in the commemorative cruise revved their way along the waterfront and created a four-mile queue.

But despite the remarkable numbers, there was a convivial atmosphere with some drivers, ranging in age from 17 to 80, turning up in fancy dress and curious members of the public gathering along the waterfront in freezing conditions to witness the spectacle.

Residents watch from nearby flats in Kirkcaldy in 2013
Residents watch the proceedings from the flats during the wall of noise. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

Local worthies decided to join the party and brought bottles of beer while others hung out of windows and crammed on to balconies to clap and cheer.

The event culminated with a “minute of noise” at 9.30pm where drivers were asked to rev their engines and sound their horns in tribute.

Paul Walker tribute event Kirkcaldy 2013.
Locals joined the celebrations at the promenade in 2013. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

There was a visible police presence on the esplanade, although all warnings had been heeded with Police Scotland confirming there had been “no incidents at all” and no arrests.

Co-organiser of the event, James Stephen — a courier driver from Kincardine — explained the ethos behind his organisation N/A Nonsense Racing and why the event had been staged.

A yellow Mustang was among the array of vehicles on show at the first meet. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.
A Mustang was among the array of vehicles on show at the first meet. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

“N/A stands for Not Applicable or Not Acceptable — whatever you want it to be,” he said.

“We started over a year ago to make car meets more sociable. Normally we get about 300 but nothing like this.

“This is a tribute to Paul Walker who was one of those guys through the Fast and the Furious films who jumped out at people.

Two girls smile for the camera
People arrived from all corners of Scotland to mark the occasion. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

“We never met him but we loved his films. He connected with car people.

“We had a meet due anyway but due to his sudden death we felt it was only right to make this a remembrance event. Word has spread from there.

“I’ve never seen anything like that never mind at the Prom.

“Yes, there will be one next year.”

The Kirkcaldy sequel was box-office draw

Among the spectators was Thomas Campbell of Ballingry who said people were really proud to show off their cars.

He said: “I used to come down here when I was younger to do cruising.

“I’ve never seen it like this, though.

“It’s an amazing turnout for one guy that no one has met.”

It was.

A group of lads enjoying the atmosphere of the event. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.
A group of lads enjoying the atmosphere of the event. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

The Courier said: “It might seem strange that so many people gathered through social media to honour a dead film star they’d never met.

“But what did shine through on Saturday amid the cacophony of revs was a spirit of friendship and common purpose.

“This was a very modern gathering inspired by the power of social media.

“Thankfully, it also looks to have stayed above the law.”

Walker playing in a movie being shown in one of the cars
Walker playing in a movie being shown in one of the cars in 2013. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

The sequel took place on October 18 2014.

It was another box-office draw.

A six-hour event took place called 2Fife2Furious, which closed the promenade and attracted 1,500 vehicles and 6,000 spectators.

The 2Fife2Furious modified car event in Kirkcaldy in 2014 was hugely popular. Image: Fife Photo Agency.
The 2Fife2Furious modified car event in Kirkcaldy in 2014 was hugely popular. Image: Fife Photo Agency.

At 3.30pm, drift cars, snack vans and trade stalls set up.

Show cars started to arrive at 4pm, with the show in full swing by 5.30pm.

Crowds were entertained by drift racing on a make-shift track.

Engines roared and stereos blared as cars from Ferraris and Audis to Citroens and Peugeots parked along the esplanade in tribute to Walker.

Drivers from as far afield as Shetland and Carlisle attended the gathering, which included some American classic cars.

Judging of the best car was carried out at 8pm with the winners announced at 8.45pm.

Cars started to disperse by 9pm.

Why did Paul Walker become so popular?

James Stephen of N/A Nonsense Racing said most motoring enthusiasts’ passion for cars was inspired by Walker’s role in the Furious franchise.

He said: “The franchise outsold Star Wars at the cinema.

“For us it is equivalent to Luke Skywalker dying.”

Cars at Paul Walker event in 2017.
Cars take over the promenade in 2017 in tribute to Paul Walker. Image: DC Thomson.

It was deemed such a success that the motoring extravaganza became an annual fixture on the calendar and the regular gathering spot for fans of the Furious movies.

A decade after his death, Paul Walker’s devoted fan base continues to grow.

The film franchise ensures that he will never be forgotten in Hollywood.

Or Kirkcaldy.

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