Leadership can be defined as the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. The definition is perfect for a person in the Lowrider Culture that presides over a club and provides a positive influence to not only their club and the Lowrider Culture but to their community. The Lowrider Hall of Fame 2009 Leadership honoree is Harvey Reyes of Bakersfield’s “Carnales Unidos” Car Club.
Born in 1952 in the state of Texas, Harvey Reyes spent his early years there until his family relocated to Bakersfield California in 1963. While in high school Harvey discovered Lowriding, and by saving his lunch money and his pay from working with his farm laborer father in the fields; he bought his first car at 16 years old. Harvey’s first car was the classic 1964 Chevy [cars name=”Impala”]. Any money that came Harvey’s way was saved so he could continue to work on his car. For a while he rode around Bakersfield with the help of a huge boulder in the trunk and the requisite Cragars mounted on the car. After high school, Harvey joined the United States Marine Corps, became a Military Policeman and continued to Lowride. He would bring his Impala to the base and cruise the town during the weekends.
In 1975, Harvey and a group of fellow Lowriders were hanging out at a car wash and park on Bakersfield’s California Avenue. The guys kicked around the idea to form a car club. The club would have to not only unite Lowriders in the Bakersfield area but also benefit the East side neighborhoods in the surrounding areas as well. “Carnales Unidos” which stands for “Brothers United” was formed. The name was selected because of the simple fact that many of the members were from the different neighborhoods but were now coming together as one under that same plaque. The club chose the club colors of black and gold from the Imperials and they modeled the club after Lifestyle who at the time of the formation of “Carnales Unidos” was also a young club starting out but had already made a name for themselves. Harvey explained that club colors should mean something as well as the way the club is modeled and felt both the Imperials and Lifestyle were two clubs that had attributes “Carnales Unidos “needed in order to be a success.
Harvey and the “Carnales Unidos” car club mission was to educate the youngsters and steer them out of trouble and show them there are positive influences in their communities in the East side of Bakersfield. The second part of their mission was to show the positive influence that Lowriding could have on individuals as well. Harvey had the club active not only in Lowriding by representing Bakersfield and Kern County but also in the local community. The club maintained an active role in community events and by holding their own car shows, dances and toy drives as well as participating in parades, March of Dimes events and support not only the Bakersfield Police Department but the Bakersfield City Council as well.
In 1977, a new chapter was formed in Merced California and to this day is considered the most active of all of the “Carnales Unidos” chapters. Not long after a chapter was formed in Goshen California and Delano California. In the 1990’s a chapter was formed in Coalinga California followed by a Wasco California chapter in 2005. Finally in 2006 a Central Coast chapter was also established. All of these chapters were formed with the same mission to nurture the youth in their cities as well as continue to education the community on the positive influence of the Lowrider Culture.
After years of Lowriding and community outreach, Harvey decided to step back from Lowriding to raise his sons with his wife Gloria. Like with anything that Harvey does, he consumed himself in the lives of his sons. There were often trips to the lake and day long trips just for the boys and Harvey. As the boys got into high school, they wrestled for their high school so Harvey was often away with them at tournaments across the state of California. As the boys got older and started to form their own lives, Harvey stepped back into Lowriding and his community outreach on the East side of Bakersfield.
Employed in the Bakersfield school systems, Harvey has been able to do outreach and mentor many of Bakersfield’s youth. Working in the East side of Bakersfield for as long as he had, his reputation garnered respect from not only the children in the schools but the administrators and local government.
Harvey assisted and pioneered a graffiti removal program and worked with the districts “Say No to Drugs” campaign and produced car shows on school campuses to raise scholarship funds for the disadvantage children in East Bakersfield. He has also done quite a few motivational speeches on the campuses of Bakersfield. His work has not gone unnoticed. He has received awards for tireless contributions to the schools and community.
I spent a spring morning with Harvey in Bakersfield to find out more about him and his Lowriding career. Harvey took me around to meet some individuals who he felt could give me insights on him. After meeting with them, it was even more apparent that Harvey’s leadership and influence in the Lowrider Culture and the communities of Bakersfield has touched many lives.
Jamie Quinonez met Harvey when he was 14 years old and a freshman at East High in Bakersfield. Harvey was a Campus Supervisor and an Outreach Coordinator on the campus. Jamie and his friends looked up to Harvey because he was a guy from where they were from the East side of town and as Jamie explained, Harvey had it together, had nice cars and was considered the “main guy” in the East side. He was the guy they wanted to be like. Jamie joined “Carnales Unidos” at 16 years old and was instantly impressed with how professional the club was and the standards set by Harvey for the club. Eventually Jamie went away to college and came back to serve the community like Harvey did after his military service where he is now the principal of Mira Monte High School. Jamie and Harvey have remained close friends all these years.
Robert Arreola met Harvey 13 years ago when he started working for the Bakersfield School District. Over a course of a few months after meeting Harvey, Robert found that he and Harvey had lowriding in common as well as an interest in helping steer kids towards positive outlets. Harvey helped Robert incorporate Lowriding into his position as a Campus Supervisor to make a connection with the kids at the school he works at. Robert also credits Harvey with the style of cars he builds. He considers Harvey a huge influence and mentor as well as a friend.
Ron Beam of Beam Brothers Pinstriping has known Harvey for 35 years. Back in the mid 70’s Harvey would bring Ron his cars as well as club cars to work on. Harvey was spending 5 to 10,000 dollars on a paintjob which at the time was unheard of. Harvey and Ron would collaborate on the paintjobs and the finish product would earn Harvey many awards at the car shows he attended. With a business and a personal relationship that has spanned 35 years, Ron summed up Harvey by describing him as a leader, a good guy and a trendsetter who is very deserving of this honor.
A common phrase was echoed to me by each person I talked to that spring morning in Bakersfield. Everyone that I spoke with said to me “We need more people like Harvey”. His tireless effort in the Lowriding Culture as well as in the communities have made a huge impact on many lives not just the ones mentioned in the article. You have to wonder how Harvey still stays inspired after all these years. He credits his family for keeping him inspired. They have supported and continue to support him the whole time he has been Lowriding which adds up to just about 40 years.
It was also very apparent that when Harvey speaks people listen. He is a man of action and a man of his word. If he says he is going to do something he does it and always comes through. I asked Harvey if his time in the military is where his leadership skills were honed. He credits his leadership skills first and foremost with his parents who taught Harvey to be respectful, honorable and a man of his word. Those are values he lives by today and has passed along to the “Carnales Unidos” and people he has come in contact throughout the years.
I asked Harvey how he felt about being honored by the Lowrider Hall of Fame this year. He was honored and felt that all of his Lowriding years have all been worth the effort. The hard work, dedication and years of sweat and tears that he has put into the movement have paid off. Harvey commented “I am honored to receive this award for all of the thousands of Lowriders all over the world that are my age and have never received recognition. This is for them”.
I heard quite a few words used to describe Harvey. Words like dedicated, visionary, catalyst, inspirational and finally the word leader. All of these words are accurate descriptions for an individual like Harvey Reyes but I think leader is the most fitting. He has led the “Carnales Unidos” and the Bakersfield Lowrider movement for over 35 years and is very deserving of this honor. The results of his leadership are apparent all over Bakersfield and Kern County. Congratulations to Harvey Reyes on his Leadership honor for the 2009 Lowrider Hall of Fame induction.