Ah, another year of the Lowrider Tour and that means another year of hop and dance competitors battling it out in the hopping pit. With just six stops on the official Tour this year, it’s going to be tougher than ever to qualify, and head hop judge Bret Kopitz, along with Raul Gomez and Dave Harkins, will have their hands full.
New on the Tour this year is a “locals only” Street Hop class. This class was created for amateurs and/or vehicles that don’t fit into the other hop categories. There were two entrants in this class in Phoenix, and Mike Fajardo and his black ’88 Olds Cutlass took first place and $250. His chromed-out suspension did get some abuse, though, and wound up being pushed out with a busted ball joint. Raul Cisneros and his ’84 Cadillac was Mike’s only other competition and he too broke a ball joint in the process of hopping.
With that new class done, the Single-Pump Hop got underway. With four competitors in this class, only three would place and Mike Moreno and his ’63 Chevy Impala put up 50 inches, netting him a third place finish. Shorty’s Hydraulics made the trip out from Texas and tapped out a 70-inch hit for second place. Dave Marquez continues to bring the heat after his 2007 Single-Pump record and he put up a 71, besting last year by an inch.
The Double-Pump Hop also saw four competitors vying for prize money and bragging rights for a couple of weeks until San Bernardino. Rogelio Loera was last year’s record holder at 76 inches with his ’87 Chevy Monte Carlo, but could only muster 70 inches this day, taking third place and $200. Dave Marquez placed second with his ’87 Cutlass at 72 inches. Always the fierce competitor, Ron Eggers came in from Las Vegas on a mission with his Black Magic Hydraulics ’86 Cutlass, smashing the bumper on the way to a first place finish. He also beat last year’s record by three inches, so Ron is setting the bar pretty high right out of the gate, along with the fact that it’ll be interesting to see if anyone has an answer for him in San Bernardino.
A few key players have dominated the Truck Hop in the last couple of years. Phoenix saw Gilbert Perez throw his hat into the ring, but he could only come up with 34 inches despite a valiant effort with his bright yellow ’85 Chevy El Camino. Ariel Avilo of the Hi-Low Hydraulics camp had his candy red ’86 Ford Ranger ready to strike, but could only get up to 62 inches, pretty far off of last year’s Truck Hop record of 88 inches.
Consistency is the mark of a champion and without a doubt Shorty’s Hydraulics has stayed steady for quite awhile now. The Houston, Texas, shop’s ’92 Ranger, the holder of last year’s record at 88 inches, came to Phoenix to send a message with 91 inches on the stick, beating last year by three inches. Are they holding back? Can they find a couple of extra inches? Can anyone else surprise them? It’s all possible and our guess is that San Bernardino might have some surprises in store.
Right about now was the time for the extension to be put on the stick and, wouldn’t you know it, a couple of bolts were missing, but the Lowrider Events crew made it happen and the Radical Hop was underway. As it was, the Radical class wound up being one of the most crowded fields. Black Magic Hydraulics, Marco Luzan and Todd Land’s ’61 Impala made decent showings but didn’t place. The holder of last year’s record, Rob Robertson, was missing from the mix and for now his 96-inch record stands, but already two records have been broken so we’ll see what the rest of the Tour holds.
Shorty’s Hydraulics picked up a “tre” with an 80-inch hop. Victor Lopez and his ’91 Mitsubishi, “Orange Juiced,” with Ron on the switch worked its way up to a second place finish. But the king of the big stick this day was Todd Land and his magenta ’87 Toyota. The truck pulled up at 94 inches, just two inches short of the record, but good for the win and $750. It should be a crowded field in San Bernardino. Being that it’s the only California show, anything can happen and we’re sure that it will.