Celebrating A Victory With His Peers
Last year after winning the coveted Lowrider of the Year title in Las Vegas, Chris Roark took the long drive home from Vegas to Vacaville, CA, where he thought about what he would do next. After a few hours of thinking, he decided that he would use his prize money to throw a big party in hopes of giving back to the people that helped him accomplish his Lowrider of the Year goal. Once he got home, he started making calls to arrange a venue that would hold 150 of his family, supporters, friends and fellow Lowriders.
Chris wanted to make sure that this event would be different than the average party, so he booked Sacramento’s Delta King Hotel overlooking the Sacramento River. This anchored riverboat definitely had a different feel for the elegant event. The event almost felt like a Northern California Lowrider Hall of Fame event, as some of Northern California’s top builders showed up to celebrate with Chris. Some of the people on hand included: Lowrider Hall of Fame inductee Kita Lealao, Future Hall of Famer Richard Ochoa, master builder Leroy Gonzales, John-John of Low Conspiracy and Pauly of New Style to name just a few of the builders at the gala event.
The banquet had it all including entertainment, dinner and dancing, that went on ’til closing time at midnight, making this another historic night as this event was the first of its kind. Chris wishes to thank everybody who came out to support the event, and all who helped him accomplish his goal. If Chris wins an award this big again, he just might have to look for a bigger ship to help him outdo his efforts with this year’s party.
Chicano Park is a historical and cultural landmark of the local Chicano community. Located under the interstate 5 freeway in Barrio Logan, near downtown San Diego, CA, the park boasts the world’s largest collection of outdoor murals. There are over 60 Chicano heritage-themed murals throughout the recreational area, depicting inspirational figures like Frida Kahlo, Cesar Chavez, Che Guevara and many other Latino leaders. The park was saved from impeding closure in 1970, and since then, its many supporters have begun a movement to list the park with the National Register of Historic Places.
Chicano Park Day holds an annual family event that brings both historical and cultural exhibitions, such as Mexican and Aztec Indigenous traditional music and dance. The goal is to use the park to preserve the area’s rich cultural heritage, and to educate society about the important historical impact and contributions of the Chicano community. Chicano Park is also well known for its amazing annual car show, which brings participants from all over the United States.
This year’s car show was presented by Amigos Car Club, who hosted and played a major role in the show. Many local San Diego car clubs came out to represent, sharing the park with other notable chapters from L.A. and Arizona. The Euros, Hot Rods, and Customs were also there alongside the Lowriders, laying low on the grass and entertaining the crowd.
This year, there were many participants who brought out their clean bomb pick-ups, some of whom even came all the way from El Paso, Texas to represent in the show.
The Chicano Park car show was an amazing success as always. The participants enjoyed each other’s company as well as the delicious barbeque that was on hand during this hot April day.
You can learn more about Chicano Park at www.chicano-park.org.
Friday Night Cruise At Sako’s Sandwich Shop
F is for family, fun, friendship, fantastic food, and Friday Night Cruise sponsored by the President of Old Cruisers Southern Cal. Car Club, Tommy Mendoza. The success of Friday Night Cruise (FNC) began over 35 years ago with the honorable friendship of Tommy Mendoza and brothers Tommas & Art Atoyan, owners of Sako’s Sandwich Shop.
Tommy Mendoza has had a vast love affair with antiques, classics and original Bombs for decades, influenced heavily by his experiences as a tow truck driver and car transporter. His main passion lies with building Bombs, a craft he’s become an expert in, thanks to years of dedication and his genuine love for the old body styles. His love for the Bombs as well as for people, tambien, has built some enduring friendships.
Cruise Night began at the historical McDonald’s 1st Hamburger Stand on the corner of Lakewood Blvd.& Florence Ave. in the city of Downey, California over 14 years ago. This small gathering of cars and homies grew into a weekly summertime event, thanks to the help of his wife Rose, daughter Tina, and friends Sharon Hamilton, Big Art and the late Julio Ruelas. This seasonal happening would break for the winter months and return in time for those beautiful Los Angeles summer nights. Anticipating each cruising season was a great motivator for builders, as they used the winter break to get their rides in tip-top shape for the next summer season. As the event grew in popularity, it also grew in size, and after 7 years, Tommy Mendoza decided it was time to look for a larger place. On one hand he was happy to see that the Lowrider Community had truly embraced this cruise night, on the other he was stuck without an adequate place to host it. In his search for a new venue, Tommy Mendoza turned to good friends Tom and Art Atoyan, two brothers who own a sandwich shop and share a mutual admiration for the Lowrider Movement. These two families met years ago in the rubbish industry and have remained amigos ever since.
Tom and Art opened Sako’s Sandwich Shop in 1972 to cater to the business district and residents of Santa Fe Springs, California. For over 37 years, the two brothers have created enduring friendships by serving the community with their hard work, fantastic food and positive spirit. Sako’s boasts a friendly environment that features big screen TVs, along with a savory menu of pastrami, burgers, sandwiches, specialty plates, and cold drinks that are sure to satisfy any hungry customer. With a little negotiating, the three well respected men combined their efforts, and Friday Night Cruise was born.
Through his work, Tommy Mendoza has gained much admiration from the Lowrider Community, especially from the youth. His adoration for them is second to none, and he is always willing to take the time to engage in meaningful dialogue with them about building bombs, being involved with your family, staying out of gangs, and the values of positive motivation and respect. Tommy says, “We need to keep our youth tuned-in, so this Lowrider Movement will continue to bloom.”
The outdoor atmosphere at FNC is filled with unity, as the event even garnishes support from the local Fire, Police, Emergency Teams and City Officials. Tom and Art decided to go the extra mile and have even bought extra children’s insurance to keep safety and family comfort a top priority. They also made sure to comply with all city ordinances and laws to make sure that the event would always be conflict free for all the attendees.
Tommy Mendoza’s FNC has a full schedule of events, including a raffle table, 50/50 cash prize, as well as Doo Wop, Oldies, and Top 40’s music spun by Tommy, Trophies are awarded for the various contests, and birthdays and special holidays are celebrated, too. FNC has attracted stars like Danny De La Paz of “Boulevard Nights” and Oldies vocalist Tony Allen, and has featured local talents as well. Solitos Car Club’s very own 11 year old Savannah, has performed, sharing her singing talents with the crowd. Folks come from all seven counties, Northern California, San Diego, and even from as far away as Arizona and Nevada to join in on the fun. Sako’s FNC has graced the pages of the LA Times and has also been featured in Petersen Museum’s “La Vida Lowrider: Cruising the City of Los Angeles” display, which gained national acclaim.
The car clubs that come to enjoy this event are Best of Friends, Bomb Club, Bomb Heaven, Brown Pride, Chariots, Classic Dreams, Crusaders, Classic Oldies, Dip Sticks, Duke’s, Fantasy Life, Gangs to Grace, Good Fellas, Good Life, Groupe, Imperials, King of Kings, LA Angels, LA’s Finest, LA Lost City, Lifestyle, Maniacos, Night Crowd, Oldies, Old Memories, Pharaohs, Reflections, Solitos, South Side, Stylistics, Together, Thee Untouchables, Viejitos, American Street Rodders, Old School Riders, Ballers Road Dogs, Bicycle and Pedal Clubs, too. Every summer there are many individuals and solo riders that mix in with the festivities.
People have come to experience the atmosphere and to learn how to start their own version of FNC. Ike, a good friend of Tommy Mendoza now has cruise nights in his own home town, of which La Raza, Blacks, Asians, and Whites are strong supporters. FNC is also always open to all races, clubs, and individuals, as unity and brotherhood among people is something that Tommy, Art, and Tommas strongly believe in. Fund-raisers, Toy Drives, Donation Events, and even dancing are all great ways for Tommy and the FNC to give back to the community. He is a big supporter of other car club happenings, too.
As I talked with Tommy Mendoza, the family and friends that jumped into our conversation represented true Lowrider unity in its finest form. It’s not uncommon to see four generations of family at once at the FNC, including parents with children, grandparents with grandchildren and an occasional stroller out roaming the grounds. This outdoor cruise night/car show usually features 150 cars, making it an amazing experience for casual Lowrider enthusiasts as well as seasoned vets. Thanks to the efforts of Tom and Art Atoyan, two brothers who were kind enough to open their doors to the Lowrider Community, we have an amazing event to look forward to every week in the summer time!
So the next time the question comes up “What do we do this Friday night?,” you already know the answer. Come on down to Sako’s FNC for a great time, the festivities kick off at 5pm and end at 9:30pm. Sako’s is located at 12000 East Slauson Avenue in Santa Fe Springs, California 90670, and you can call them at (562) 693-1138.