It’s been six years since Joseph Mendez of JM Productions first fulfilled his dream to bring together lowriders from all over the Southwest in a show of “national” size and importance yet with grass-roots appeal and camaraderie. “Lowriding is traditionally associated with family values and large gatherings of friends showcasing the American automobile in a particular fashion,” says Joseph. “Our mission is to develop a lowrider show that captures the true essence of the lowrider spirit.” With that (and a ton of hard work by Joseph and his wife), the Bakersfield Lowrider Nationals were born.
Held, as always at the beautiful Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, California, the 2003 event was hotter than ever, literally, as the temperature topped 100. Sponsored by Otra Beer, Dr. Pepper, More Bounce Hydraulics, The U.S. Army, El Popular, UPN Channel 45, Eli’s Caps and La Bonita Tortillas, the event was also videotaped exclusively for Rollin’ Art television. The Lowrider big rig, along with Martha DePaul and the Lowrider booth, even made a special guest appearance.
Lowrider cars, trucks and bicycles from several states came to compete for the thousands of dollars in cash prizes, the gold rings and beautiful walnut trophies that go along with the “Lowrider Nationals Champion” titles. The level of professional judging at the event made everyone feel that they had received fair treatment, keeping disputes low.
This was one of the last big California events of the season and it was once again a huge success with some 400+ entries for the indoor/outdoor show and more than 70 clubs attending. Add to that, 75 vendors, live performances by Strait (all of the way from Texas) and the “hottest” Nationals Hop Championship ever and there was more than enough to keep the 6,000 spectators happy.
With thousands of dollars and Championship rings in the offing, the “hot” hydraulics competition held in the rodeo arena attracted more competitors than ever. Before the hop began, there was a moment of silence for recently departed Gary May, who had always been the head hop judge. Gerald Mendez and Ulysses of Truucha Video handled the announcing with new “Lowrider Nationals” records set in virtually all hop classes, including his sixth win and a new Single-Pump record of 88-inches set by Rudy Del Toro. The “hottest” part of the hop came when Art Tuason of HOPPO’S had to stand by helplessly after his Buick Regal hopper got stuck straight up, then caught on fire and burned to the ground before his eyes. A tragedy for Art, but the crowd loved it–until the Bakersfield Fire Department came and extinguished the towering inferno. By special invitation, the Latin Airbrush Artist’s Association held their Third Annual Reunion in one of the large buildings. Such legendary masters as “Wiro,” Abel, “Mister Cartoon,” “Fonzy,” “Spider,” Carlos Cartegena, Sepulveda, Freddy Alfaro, Rick Munoz, Oskar Mendez, Gerald Mendez, Jose Mercado, Sal, Gabriel Frias, Antonio Pantoja, Ruben Reyes and Anthony Arozco were showing their art.
The 2003 Lowrider Nationals proved once again to be the perfect place to be for family lowrider fun. A tip of the Lowrider hat to the gente for keeping it cool, and to the Bakersfield Police Department who’s strict zero tolerance policy kept everybody feeling safe. If you’d like information on the 2004 Nationals, contact Joseph Mendez at (661) 837-0500, and tell him that you read about it in LRM.
TOP TROPHY WINNERS
Lowrider Car: Alejandro Vega
Lowrider Truck: Juan Arreola
Lowrider Euro: Rick Fletes
Bomb Car: Paul Toma
Bomb Truck: Alex Mercado
National Bike Champion
Two-Wheel: Frankie Lopez
Contribution To Lowriding
Truck Hop-New Record: Ben Centeno
Single-Pump-New Record: Rudy Del Toro
Double-Pump Car: Big John
Double-Pump Truck-New Record: Armando Vigil
Luxury-New Record: Art Tuason
Truck Dance: Ron Eggers
Car Dance: Jerry Lamm