One of the most anticipated parts of the Vegas Super Show is the high-octane Hop Competition. Every year, Lowriding’s best-of-the-best duke it out in a fierce competition that literally pushes the expectations for this event to new heights. Under the newest guidelines, the competition has become even more grueling, as the contestants in this aerial display compete under invite-only circumstances. This makes it harder for would-be competitors to enter, and makes the event even more exciting for the spectators, as they get to watch only the finest hoppers in the country show off their skills.
This year’s hop kicked off around noon, as the bleachers that surrounded the hop pit began to fill up with anxious spectators, all eager to root for their favorite contestants. Thirty minutes later, Kid Jay took the microphone and announced the start of the competition by giving away free shoes, courtesy of show sponsor Lugz, to an already buzzing crowd. The crowd was treated to a brand new introduction to the Hop, in which the contestants paraded their cars around the hop pit, while their names were announced as contestants. Picture it like an opening for a sporting event, in which the crowd screams louder and louder for their favorite player, as they make their way into the arena.
The first contestants to hit the hopping stage in the Single Pump Class were Texas legends Mando Nuñez from Hi-Low Hydraulics in El Paso, TX, with his Black ’64 Impala, and Shorty of Shorty’s Hydraulics from Houston, TX, with his ’64 Galaxy. A coin toss is supposed to take place to decide who goes first, and this year it became a bottle cap toss, you can blame it on the recession as to why their wasn’t a decent coin available. After the crowd got a laugh at that, it was Mando who won the toss, and elected to go first. After hitting the switch a few times, Mando reached 73 inches, but fell short to Shorty’s impressive 94-inch mark. Luckily that was enough to take the crown in this class, as Shorty had to stop hopping the Galaxy after its ball joint gave way from the stress of the competition. The next class to compete was the Single Pump Truck Class, where the guys from Cool Cars went against Shorty’s Hydraulics. Cool Cars took the title in a tight competition by reaching 100 inches, while Shorty’s was a close second with a score of 97 inches. The Car Dance exhibition was next on the menu, and Juan Chavoya abused his Green ’87 Cutlass nicknamed “Twister,” by smashing his front end and back bumper into the blacktop. The competition got even more violent, as John from Shorty’s Hydraulics put his car through a rough sequence, which left his car reeling by the end of his run. As he began to hit the switches on El “Mero Mero,” a gray ’87 Mazda Truck, the driver’s side wheel broke within the first few seconds. The wheel was held in place by chains, so John continued hitting the switches even harder, as he nearly made the truck flip a few times. He finally relented when the truck started to spark, which caused a small fire in the cabin. The last part of the show featured the Radical Hop Class, where six of the top hoppers went head-to-head, eliminating each other one-by-one until a lone car was left as the victor. First up was Cool Cars’ ’86 Mazda Truck, which hit 99 inches. Next in line was contestant Al Carr’s famous ’86 Yellow El Camino, which was disqualified after a few hops as it got stuck vertically sitting on its gate. Then it was time for Shorty to bring it all the way from Texas, with his Green ’95 Ranger that launched for a whopping 112 inches. After taking a small break to bring in the rest of the hoppers, it was time for Mando to hit the switch with his ’62 Impala. Mando reached 105 inches, while Local Las Vegas hop legend Todd Land hit for a total of 101 inches. At the end of the competition, it was Shorty who took home the bonus cash, bragging rights and the Wayne Costa Award for always pushing the sport and traveling the furthest.
As all the dust settled and the hop competitors began to head home, the fencing was torn down, and the black top was cleaned to make space for the concert part of the Super Show. After a few sound checks, Lil Uno, Stevie Stone, and A Lighter Shade of Brown hit the stage and got the crowd warmed up for the next performer, Mac 10. Mac 10 rapped to some of his best radio hits while sporting some Lowrider gear. For the finale, a reunited Bone Thugs n’ Harmony made the crowd go wild, as they saw all of the original members were up on stage at the same time, for the first time since their public split up. The crowd screamed as they closed their set with the smash hit “Crossroads,” before exiting the main stage. The bikini contest began immediately after the musical acts, with many ladies showing off their seductive moves. In the end, Veronica from Houston, TX took home the cash after jumping in the air and landing in a full-split position. For those that missed this exciting Hop and Dance competition, come on out next year and root for your favorite Switchman.