Before the Chevrolet Impala there was the Chevrolet Corvette Impala! This was a one-off prototype prepared for the 1956 General Motors Motorama Show. The concept never made it into production, but the name and several of the styling details ended up becoming the 1958 full-size Chevy Impala that we worship today. Lowrider Magazine takes an exclusive look at a very clean ’58 Impala, and places it perched upon a hill overlooking the city lights of downtown Los Angeles for our October cover.
Troy Staehler is the owner of this classic American lowrider dubbed “Boss Roller.” Troy’s the president of the ’07 Lowrider Club of the Year, Rollerz Only C.C., whose members’ cars are featured amongst these pages as part of a tribute to their honor and support of the Lowrider Movement. Yes, Rollerz Only is on top of the hill in many ways. Congratulations go out to all Rollerz Only chapters, officers, members and families.
The Lowrider Tour landed once again in San Bernardino, California, and it was quickly surrounded with 700 lowriders and close to 15,000 fanatics who got together to take on the 100-degree weather. This show is continuing to heat up too, as it comes along every year now, and it’s starting to resemble great shows of the past, like the L.A. Sports Arena, Fontana and Pomona shows. Attendance continues to grow at San Bernardino. Check out our coverage on the following pages.
And while I’m on the subject of shows, let me just say that the promotion of any Lowrider Tour show today is plain-out roulette, and I mean Russian roulette! It takes its toll or it takes your soul. There was a time 25 years ago when you could become a car show promoter overnight. First, you would book a local city park or school parking lot, and if you could borrow some money, you might even rent a small venue. You also had to promise to pay the printer, trophy guy, band and DJ at the end of the show. After that, all you needed was a stack of flyers to hit the cruising spots, liquor stores and high schools, along with a staple gun to tack up those posters on telephone poles. You also had to know a few people who had bad cars, or were in car clubs, so that you could get them to come out and display their rides.
No one ever cared for or liked a car show promoter. People right away thought that you were making money off of the cars, and once they saw a crowd at your event they thought that you’d be filthy rich by the time of the trophy presentation. But promoters in those days weren’t much different from promoters today. The amount of risk is greater now, but the promoters all have similar stories to tell from their experiences, and most will say that at 12 noon on any day of a show, they’re counting cars in the parking lot to get a read on how the show might turn out.
Though it’s still early in the day, the promoter will watch the lines at the turnstiles to get an idea of the amount that’s needed to make some type of profit from the hard work and worries. Most promoters are just thinking that “maybe I can break even.” When 3 o’clock rolls around, he’s on stage counting that crowd and saying to himself, “there are more butterflies in my stomach than spectators. Okay, I can lose three, four or five grand, just as long as the crowd looks respectable in number. That way, they’ll come back next year.”
Those methods of thought are still practiced today. Sometimes, car shows are thrown out of love for the culture and sport, and to get the juices flowing towards the exciting competition. In 1983, the L.A. Sports Arena would cost any poor promoter or car club $68 grand for a show that would bring in around 5,000 spectators. To attract more people you needed more money for advertising and bigger entertainment. Today, those figures have jumped up almost five times. The average show today can cost near $200,000, while the “glamour and glitz” Vegas Super Show costs more than $300,000 to put on.
Arena management, insurance companies, police and security hold the upper hand now. They’re the ones that will take about 75-percent of the show’s cost right from the start. Owning a venue is about the only way that you can make a profit off of a car show. Car show locations, especially large venues, are very hard to attain because of the image that others have of lowriders. Try to book a convention center and you will deal with biased management that will tell you, “a lowrider show? We didn’t know that you were going to bring those cars that bounce! Sorry, we don’t allow that in our city.” The mention of the word “lowrider” to some of the people who run these arenas will bring visions of calling in the National Guard for a hopping contest.
Now, I know that a few have spoiled things for us at times in the past by their careless actions. The lack of respect for others having a great time will cause dances to be shut down, boulevards to have closures and, of course, arenas and city councils to ban car shows. Bad images of all lowriders are cracks in our armor of pride. We have earned the fact that the whole world watches us. Lowriding is more popular than ever, but we must show them the true examples of what we’re all about. Respect for one another, and not only at events, will fix those cracks and show others our pride and devotion towards the Movement.
Because of the sad events that took place at some car show events in the past, security has a big price to pay now. Not even Homeland Security can guarantee that you will get a date booked to do a lowrider show. You will feel like you paid the same price tag, though. It also seems that in today’s times, lowrider shows have to be thrown at convention centers and sports arenas; sort of like bragging rights maybe, just to show up the other hot-rod and truck shows, I guess.
The economy and the image of lowriding will get better, and sponsorships jumping back in will help a lot, too. Then and only then can we see the return to our other Lowrider Tour stops like Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Indianapolis and Northern California. Lowrider happenings have been around for more than 30 years now. Thank a promoter the next time that you see one. Most of the time, they’re the ones who do more than just customize a car or pay for a ticket to get in. They bring us together. Hell, it’s the only way that we can come from all walks of life, bring our rides to a place where we can all express ourselves, and be appreciated by what we enjoy, and then show the world who we really are. The show must go on!
The stage for the 2008 Lowrider Hall of Fame is under construction now at the Hilton Hotel in Long Beach on September 20. All of the inductees have been recognized for their honors throughout past and present issues of Lowrider Magazine. We finish up our coverage of this year’s class with our profile this month on Fernando Ruelas, winner of the Lifetime Contributor Honor. Fernando might as well be the icon for anything that pertains to lowriding history. The man and his family, including Duke’s Car Club and friends, have been trailblazers along history’s path to bring us where we are today. Thanks for the memories and for the ones to come, Fernando.
In future issues of Lowrider, my staff and I would like to start saluting other pioneers whose contributions to the lowrider world must be recognized. Their names and their stories will be told so that they too can receive the gratitude deserved, so that one day they too can walk through the doors of the Lowrider Hall of Fame.Joe Ray