Having attended the recent Paul Walker Memorial cruise which started in Antrim I found myself questioning something I’ve loved for the best part of fifteen years as a petrolhead, is the car cruise part of our scene as dead as one of our favourite movie franchise stars?
Case in point: The Paul Walker Memorial Cruise. It was started two years ago after the passing of arguably one of the biggest on and off screen petrolhead who is known the world over. For those unlikely few who know nothing about him, he was the actor who played one of the lead rolls in six out of the seven Fast & Furious movies and who instantly struck a chord with many car enthusiasts the world over.
We could all relate to the on screen character in some way or another but it seems that he was as much of a petrolhead off screen as well. There have been many YouTube videos, interviews and stories which all involved Paul being around cars, talking about them and the huge car scene that many of us are involved in. He always spoke passionately about cars, about modifying them and driving them to their limits.
He had a great respect for all of us car enthusiasts and he clearly shared the same passion we did for the scene and the movies. He was once recorded saying “I love it when (car) guys come up to me and say hey Brian (referring to his screen name), I know it’s going to be a good question or a good chat, I have hours for those guys”
It was a huge blow to many of us to learn of his tragic death with little comfort coming from one of his famous quotes “If one day speed kills me, don’t cry because I was smiling”, which spawned many stickers fitted to a lot of cars. He is one of few actors who have managed to transcend from the silver screen to our hearts. He was much more than a car nut though, having started his own charity, Reach Out Worldwide who’s work is involved in many things from the 2010 earthquake in Chile to the tornado’s in The Philippines.
Many of us braved the poor weather on a Sunday evening to show our respects to this ‘hero’ in a way that we all felt he would approve of or enjoy and made the journey to Antrim, handy for me as I live there. There were many who had obviously traveled from all over Ireland as I noticed many Southern Ireland registered cars in attendance.
However arrival at the venue of Junction One car park was a non-starter with makeshift barriers and security preventing access, along with a strong contingent of police in both marked and un-marked cars in the various car-parks throughout the town.
I am by no means questioning the actions of the authorities, however it’s this surround and suppress approach to a gathering of motoring enthusiasts that I think will eventually snuff out the cruise scene completely in Northern Ireland. Cruise stigma aside, this means less petrolheads meeting other like minded petrolheads. And I think that’s a sad state of affairs.