The saying “get in where you fit in” can certainly be applied to the Lowrider movement. Many riders find kindred spirits in other riders, and end up joining their respective car clubs. This was not the case for a young teenager named Gabe Mijares of Woodland, CA, who proudly rolled the streets in a ’50 Chevy Pickup Truck. “At that time, I felt my truck was presentable,” says Gabe. Frustration began to set in for the young rider, after all, he had owned his truck for quite a while, and yet no one had approached Gabe to ask him to join their club. This might make your average Lowrider pack it up into the garage and call it quits, but then again, Gabe is not your average Lowrider. Feeling that his truck was worthy of flying a plaque, he did just that, by deciding to create his own car club at the tender age of 16.
In 1993, the teenaged Gabe shared his idea with his cousin, Tory Salazar, who was an even younger 14 years old at the time. Tory agreed that it would be a great idea to start their own club, but those dreams were dashed for a few years as Gabe decided to join the Marines in 1995. This decision proved fruitful for Gabe beyond the experience and financial gains that come with enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces, as it was during his four year term as a Marine that Gabe met his future wife, Lisset. Undaunted by his time away, Gabe was determined to pursue his dream of starting the club, and Lisset was fully on board as well. “She was a big influence in getting the club started,” says a beaming Gabe. Tory was also still willing to help Gabe, and the three of them began their quest together.
The name, Socios, came from one of Gabe and Tory’s uncles, who had a band in the ’70’s called “Los Socios de Tijuana.” “We went with that name because we thought it would only be right to keep a name that the family started,” says Gabe, who is still the Club President. Even though Gabe and Tory didn’t start a band, the name Socios definitely made for a great car club name.
The club started with 6 original members, all of whom were just a couple of friends that liked to hang out. In fact, there were no rules or structure within the group, and it was pretty informal. “It was just a couple of people who wanted to get together, cruise around, and go to the car shows,” explains Gabe. With no structure, the club had a ‘let’s go with the flow’ attitude. “I had no idea how to run a club,” laughs Gabe. “I wasn’t even in a club before Socios started. It was just something that we just started and basically just rode with it.” Along the way, the club started seeing how the other clubs were being run, and they gained some valuable ideas on how to structure their own club. “We took a little from here and there,” says Gabe.
When the time came to design the plaque, Lisset took charge, and took design cues from some of the classic plaques she had seen at the shows. She got down to work and cut-and-pasted a few designs, and blew them up in a copy machine to see how it would look. They even put the paper rendering in the back window of a couple of the Club’s rides, just to get a feel for how it would look. Once the club was satisfied with her design, it was time to sit down and pick out the club’s official colors. Not wanting to have any colors that could be associated with gangs, the club chose black and silver. “The reason we picked those colors was because we wanted a neutral color scheme,” says Gabe.
The club began running strong, and established one of their biggest successes; The Socios Car Club’s Annual Car Show. They throw this free car show for the community every year, on Memorial Day weekend. “We like doing the free show, so that way, everybody can come out and enjoy the day,” Gabe says proudly. He has good reason to celebrate every year, as the show is one of Nor Cal’s biggest shows, and is a great way to kick off the show season. Cars from all over Nor Cal, as well as Reno, NV, show up each year. All totaled, this incredible show attracts over 600 entrees each year, with the numbers rising each and every year. Imperials Car Club, out of Los Angeles, has been known to make the trip for this show, which was originally designed as a fund raiser for one of Gabe’s uncles. Gabe’s uncle wanted to do a rap battle to raise money for the Yolo County Housing Authorities – a far cry from a car show. The club had a better idea, and volunteered their services to throw a car show, with the proceeds from it going to the Yolo County Housing Authorities. Gabe’s uncle agreed that it would be a better idea and went along with it. The club did that for the first three years, and donated a substantial sum of money to the cause. The club also sent some of the show proceeds to help a resident of Woodland, CA make it to the Olympics. “Everyone from the club helps out at the show,” says Gabe, adding “The day of the show is a work day for us.” The club doesn’t have any mandatory rules, but everyone that joins the club is expected to put in their fair share of the work on the day of the event.
Community events and great Lowrider builds have helped this amazing club to get better each and every year. “I really enjoy it,” says Gabe as he expressed his sentiments as Club President. “I haven’t been discouraged with the club at all.” The club’s standards require that all members have a nice, clean, and presentable ride, but even more important is that the members have a positive attitude to go along with it.
This has been taken seriously by the club, as evidence by the fact that they have pulled several “Most Members” awards at various car shows. They also have individual members that have taken a few awards as well; in fact, sometimes the club takes more awards home than there are members attending the show!
Now with eight chapters (Monterey, Sacramento, San Jose, St. Louis, Stockton, Tijuana, Woodland and Yuba City) and over 40 members, the club is still going strong. “When we started, I didn’t think that we would be going on this long. I hope the club stays just as strong in the future as it is today,” reflects Gabe. The club will be celebrating their 10 year anniversary in 2011, and Lowrider Magazine will be there covering the celebration. Gabe would like to thank his wife Lisset, his cousin Tory Salazar, Raul Alfaro, Mike Rangel, and Mike Rendon for their contributions to the club.
He also sends a special thanks to all of the club members who made it out to the photoshoot: Lisset Mijares, Ignacio De La Cruz, Robby Stouder, Bob Rendon, Joe Pina, Mike Hanks, Juan Balderas, Wilson “Chucko” Rivas, Eric Gunn, Francisco and Veronica Hernandez, Mike Rendon, David Tafoya, Francisco Ramirez, Leo Balderas, Joseph Pina, Jesse “El Raider” Saucedo, Bernadette Garcia, Mauro Plaza, Bernardo Castro and Oscar Arevalo. Bike members: Justin Aue, Joe Aue, Salvador Mendoza, Aaliyah Ali, Bernadette Garcia, Jose Solorzano, Jordan Harvey, Cristian Garcia, Vicente Romero, Mike Rangel, Jonathan Urbano, Raul Alfaro, Daniel “Little Raider” Saucedo and Ricardo Herrera.
Be on the lookout for Mike Rendon’s silver ’71 Chevy Monte Carlo, and Wilson “Chuckos” Rivas ’66 Ford Fairlane 500, in the future pages of Lowrider Magazine!