If there was an official title for “Godfather of Lowriding,” Sal Sierra II would own it for the Central Valley. You won’t find someone in between Fresno and Bakersfield that has shown or competed as much or as long as this Porterville resident. With approximately four decades in the Lowrider scene, and with three generations of family members currently Lowriding, it’s easy to see the lifelong commitment that Sal Sierra II has made to the culture.
Having been into Lowriders all his life, Sal’s career in Lowriding began in the 60’s, with his older brothers who were into the culture the same way that he was, as they all worked on his first car, a ’56 Ford Victoria. “I had an older brother that was into cars and I took after him and got into cars as well,” reminisces Sal Sierra II. ” We used to drive our cars everywhere!.” This was more common back then compared to today’s garage queens. Sal used to drive his ’36 and ’39 to all the shows because he felt like he was supposed to. “Back then, everyone used to drive their cars to the shows. It was so strong that my kids and grandkids grew up in it [the Lowrider scene], and love it also,” explains Sal. This is all a part of the Sierra family cycle. “I’ve been going to car shows with my own father since I was a really small child,” explains the younger Sal Sierra III.
In 1983, Sal purchased both his ’36 and 39, and it wasn’t long before he got his ’36 Ford truck painted and started going to local shows. The LG Show in Fresno and the Carnales Unidos show in Bakersfield were just a few of the shows that Sal attended. It was during that time that he would start to hang out with the Central Valley chapter of Dukes Car Club. “We were following the Dukes Central Valley chapter with George Chavez, George Duran, Woody, and my father,” says Sal Sierra III. After eight to nine years with the Dukes, the club had died down to only Sal Sierra II. Not wanting to go to a different chapter of Dukes, Sal decided to ride solo, and the Central Valley chapter of Dukes ceased to exist. That same year, they attended an LG car show in Tulare, CA. There they were approached by Ralph and Anthony Fuentes of the Imperials Car Club about starting up a Central Valley chapter of Imperials. They started up the Central Valley chapter of Imperials with a group of guys that were always with Sal Sierra II. “They were good friends of my father from Porterville, and Lindsay that would follow my father in the show circuit,” Once they formed this chapter of Imperials, they started going to car shows all over California. From San Francisco to San Diego, they attended every show in between, spreading their enthusiasm and style along the way.
While planning on attending a car show in San Diego, Larry Gonzalez asked Sal to stop by the Lowrider Magazine studio on a Friday to drop off both of his cars, which were named, “Sal’s ’36,” and “Sal’s ’39.” Since they were shooting both of the cars for an album cover, calendar, and numerous other things, it was going to be an all day thing. Having been there all morning and being tired from the trip, they headed back to their hotel room. By the time the rested group had returned, Larry Gonzalez had named the cars “Trokita Loca,” and “Lokito 39,” respectively.
In 1992, Sal attended the Lowrider Magazine Las Vegas Super Show, and placed second in the Truck of the Year category, right behind “Wrapped with Envy.” During that time, mini-trucks were heavily competing and competition was getting out of hand with mini-trucks having bed lifts and major body modifications, which were unable to be achieved on the body of a Bomb. “You can’t chop up a bomb in that nature,” explains Sal Sierra III, who wanted to compete in the Bomb of the Year category. After the ’92 Super Show, the truck was taken to then fellow Imperial club member, Hanco, out of Ventura, CA., to get some paint work done. They also sent ii over to Leroy and Kenny Gonzales who also worked their magic on the custom.
Following the Las Vegas Super Show, Sal Sierra II met up with Leroy Gonzales, who at the time was a judge for Lowrider Magazine, and came up with the idea of having a Truck Bomb of the Year category. Going to go speak at a meeting with Leroy Gonzales in Los Angeles, the two men brought up the proposal of having a Bomb Truck of the year category to Alberto Lopez. Soon after the Bomb Truck of the Year was a legitimate category, but only at the Super Show for the first couple of years, before it was moved up to a year round category.
With the ’93 Super Show around the corner, the Sierra family was getting more work done to “Trokita Loca” in the hopes that they would come up victorious in the new Bomb Truck of the Year category. As the truck was being trailored from shop to shop, the unthinkable happened! The trailer came off the hitch and smashed into an olive tree with “Trokita Loca” in it. With the truck totaled and no insurance, the title fight for “Trokita Loca” would be put on hold.
“Every time that we’ve competed at a car show, we’ve placed, but we just haven’t gotten to that goal yet of being Truck of the Year champions,” says Sal Sierra III. “Our family’s goal is to get Bomb Truck of the Year, so we are still going to continue to go to car shows as a family and compete.”
Sal and his family and friends stayed as Imperial Car Club members until Ralph and Anthony Fuentes started South Side car club. George Torrez had the Northern chapter of Imperials, and they had the Central Valley chapter of Imperials. They met up in Los Angeles with Jesse Valdez, the owner of Gypsy Rose and President of Imperials LA. “We were told that we had to squash the Central Valley chapter of Imperials due to some legal matters, and drop the Imperials plaque altogether,” explained Sal Sierra III. With only a couple of guys from the Imperials Central Valley chapter showing, they ended up dropping the Imperials plaque. Without a club and without their show truck, they continued doing what they loved to do, and kept showing their rides with the same group of friends that they represented.
“As far as the Central Valley goes, I think my father is an icon,” Sal Sierra III says proudly about his father. “You have Carnales Unidos representing from Bakersfield, and back then it was Thee Individuals, and now you see East Side Car Club representing from Fresno at the big shows with full custom cars. In between those times, it was always my father and his crew. We have always represented the Central Valley,” beams the younger Sierra. “To me it’s [Lowriding] a family thing,” says Sal Sierra II. “We have three generations of Sal’s, and my grandson, Nick, that are all going to car shows and we are all still into it.”
With all of the years of work gone by in restoring “Trokita Loca,” the crew was able to finish the truck in time for the Lowrider Magazine show in San Francisco, CA in ’99. At this show, they ran into John John, a longtime acquaintance of the family. John John, who is the President of Low Conspiracy, and the owner of Madd Engraver, helped them set up the truck all weekend. Without a club, John John then approached them about starting up a chapter of Low Conspiracy in the Central Valley. They decided to link up, and thus began the chapter of Low Conspiracy shortly after, with the same group of guys that they have always been with. In 2004, the crew took “Trokita Loca” to the Las Vegas Super Show to go and compete for the “Bomb Truck of the Year” title. They were supposed to go to the show with all of Low Conspiracy, but no one else was able to make it out. Feeling that they were on a different page about things with the rest of the club, the reluctant decision was made to move on.
Troy Staehler, the founder of Rollerz Only, approached Sal about starting up a Central Valley chapter of Rollerz Only. Sal Sierra II started up the Central Valley chapter of Rollerz Only and is still the President of the chapter. “We are proud to be in Rollerz Only right now. I think it’s a tip top car club,” expressed Sal Sierra III. “We’ve been around a long time, and right now, we really enjoy being members of Rollerz Only car club.”
From San Diego to San Francisco, Sal and his family have gone to all of the notable shows throughout the years. “We always go as a family to car shows,” says Sal Sierra III “My father, my boys, and a few close friends.” This close knit group has been constant followers of LG car shows, and attendees of the Carnales Unidos show in Bakersfield, the Lowrider Magazine show in San Bernardino, and also the San Francisco and San Diego shows when they were previously held. “The Las Vegas Super Show is a show that we always go to whether we are taking a car to compete with or not,” says Sal Sierra III. With competition getting harder throughout the years, the Sierras have had to keep raising the bar on their sweepstake competitor “Trokita Loca,” which now enjoys the comforts of being trailored to shows. “A lot has to be done to a car nowadays in order to be able to consistently compete for the sweepstakes title,” explains Sal Sierra III. For the past twenty years, this dedicated family has been focused on winning the Bomb Truck of the Year title. “We aren’t upset, just kind of disappointed that category has been removed from Lowrider Magazine shows,” says Sal Sierra III. “We were so focused on winning the Truck Bomb Title.”
With both the ’36 and ’39 being family cars, and grandkids Sal IV and Nick owning an ’84 Cadillac and a’64 Impala, respectively, the Sierra family is looking forward to competing in the next show season. The family will continue to show and represent for the Central Valley for a long time. “With a fourth generation of Sal coming up, we are dedicated to representing our area for the foreseeable future,” says Sal Sierra III. “To me, the most important part of this Lowrider lifestyle is that I have my son and grandsons involved with me,” expressed Sal Sierra II. “It’s a family thing and that what’s important to me.” Spoken like a true Lowrider.