There are many Lowriding landmarks in and around Southern California, and the most hallowed of all of these hotspots is the famed Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles. Many in the scene have earned their stripes on this glorious stomping ground, which was simply the place to be on weekend nights for the lucky Lowrider car clubs and individuals that were fortunate enough to be Lowriding on the street during its heyday. While it was made of asphalt, this Boulevard might as well have been made out of red carpet, as people from all around Southern California came to Whittier to see and be seen. The City Terrace community of East Los Angeles is a stone’s throw from this legendary cruising spot, and a number of Whittier cruisers came from this nearby community, including Steve “Rocky” Placencia.
City Terrace offered a great place to grow up for the young Rocky, who had a number of friends with older brothers that owned Lowriders and were in the scene. He fondly remembers seeing them cruise by on their way to the local car wash where they would get their cars ready for a weekend of cruising. Sometimes if he was lucky, he would jump in one of the rides and hit the boulevard to cruise with them. This was an engrossing hobby for the young boy and he loved the scene on the Boulevard so much that he vowed one day to build his own Lowrider and take part in the weekend ritual.
It would be a number of years before Rocky would be able to fulfill his dream of owning and building his own Lowrider. That time came for Rocky when he chose to pick up a 1953 Chevy Sedan that he found in Venice Beach, California. The car was in great shape, so Rocky kept it in stock condition, with a few exceptions, of course. He lowered the ’53, and added pipes, one-inch white walls, and crossbar hub caps. His dream was finally a reality, and the excited young Rocky finally had what he always wanted; an eye-catching cruiser that he could drive on the Boulevard. Although the days of cruising Whittier Boulevard on the weekend nights were long gone, it was not uncommon for Rocky and his wife Susan and their friends to cruise Whittier Boulevard on Sunday afternoons, as they often reminisced about the glory days.
After deciding that 1953 was a great year, Rocky took on his next project, another ’53, this time a two-door hard top, which he set out to build for his wife, Susan. Susan was no stranger to Lowriding and Chevy Bombs herself, as she spent many nights on the glorious Whittier scene cruising in her own 1969 Chevy Impala. The couple found the car at Joe Epstein’s shop and Rocky immediately decided to restore it for Susan. As he and Joe began work on the Chevy, tragedy struck; Susan was diagnosed with Cancer. After an extended hospital stay, Susan successfully beat Cancer, and was greeted by her beautifully restored Bel Air upon returning home! Joe and Rocky had worked overtime to make sure the car was ready in time, and Susan’s triumph over such a deadly affliction proved to be an unbelievable blessing. Finding humor through the pain, Rocky and Susan joked that she simply had to beat the Cancer; after all, nobody else was going to drive that car before her, so she fought tooth and nail to get home before anybody had the chance!
The lucky couple was well received on the Lowrider scene, and they had a special group of friends that they spent many weekends with. Cruising, attending car shows and working on each other’s rides allowed these friends to build a bond together, and it was only a matter of time before a car club based on these friendship ideals would be formed. Rocky had an idea of the club he wanted to form and knew that with the right group of loyal friends, everything would fall into place.
His vision came to fruition in 2003, as Bomb Club Originals was formed by Rocky, Susan, and their group of friends. The club consists of Chevy Bomb enthusiasts, and all of them are personal friends of Rocky and Susan. As Rocky put it, “The whole key to having a good club is the quality of your members that you surround yourself with.” Thanks to adhering to this golden rule, the club has been going strong since its inception.
The club itself has built an amazing reputation; not only for the high quality rides that sport the Bomb Club Originals plaque, but for their events they throw annually as well. Rocky and the club have produced their annual Christmas dinner and toy giveaway, New Year’s Day picnic, and Cinco de Mayo event at San Dimas’ Bonelli Park for the past eight years. These events have brought people from all over the Southern California area year after year, thanks to the hospitality they feel from Rocky, Susan, and the rest of the Bomb Club Originals members. The club’s generosity knows no bounds; at the annual Christmas dinner and toy giveaway, the children in attendance all go home with a gift. The New Year’s and Cinco de Mayo events are filled with food, drinks and great entertainment. At every event, Rocky makes sure everyone is treated with respect and ensures that they have everything they need, and his efforts are widely appreciated by all who attend. You don’t have to take our word for this, you can ask anyone who has been to one of the club’s events and they will tell you that they are a great time. Rocky and the club’s events have not gone unnoticed by the press either, as they have received coverage in this publication and well as other publications in Japan, Germany, and even on a documentary in the news network CNN.
Rocky and the club have also done quite a bit of charity work throughout the city of Los Angeles. Most recently, his grandson, Ruben, had a classmate pass away. Rocky and the club went into action and held a cruise night to raise funds for the family to offset the burial costs. Although it was a sad situation, it made Rocky feel good knowing that once again through Lowriding, he was able to help someone else in need and set an example for his grandson, Ruben.
Rocky has been Lowriding for over twenty years and like many of us, he has seen the culture shift to a more family-oriented lifestyle. He noted that back in the days the culture was filled with haters, competition, and lack of respect for each other as well as each other’s property. These days, the car clubs are all about the family and it is a common sight to see kids running around, and the members’ wives hanging out at events.. In Rocky’s opinion, that’s the way it should be, for without mutual respect and family, the Lowriding culture will not thrive.
Everyone in Rocky’s family plays a part in his car club. As we mentioned already, Susan is right by his side with her own ride and their children and grand children are as well. The whole family loves to be a part of the club events and contributes their time by helping with the planning and assembly of the events. The next generation of Lowriding has just been born into Rocky’s family, too. His granddaughter, Anjanai, was welcomed into the family in the summer of 2011. When she is old enough, she will have her own vintage stroller courtesy of her grandfather. Lowriding is definitely a family affair in the Placencia household.
Rocky will be the first to tell you that he does not do all he does for the club and Lowriding alone. He acknowledges his wife, kids, and grandkids for all of their support. He sends a special thanks to all his good and loyal friends that have always supported him. Tutu, Leonzo, Rudy, Chinky, Albert, Big Joe Epstein, his brother, Rascal, who has been there from the start and provided his unique and one-of-a kind designs on all of the club shirts he prints. He also thanks Danny Boy and Groupe So Cal Chapter, and David “The Millionaire” Gonzales for his support at all of the events and his great cooking. Rocky wishes to extend his gratitude to Dave Campbell, who provides the park area at Bonelli Park for their annual event. Rocky would also like to thank the car clubs that have support the Bomb Club Original events over years. Without them, the events would not be a success.
Rocky’s contribution to Lowriding has been felt by many,and there is no doubt that as an individual, Rocky has made a positive impact on this great culture of ours. He has been Lowriding for a long time and has been a part of the evolution of the culture; it’s safe to say that Rocky will leave his mark on Lowriding long after the wheels have stopped turning on his Chevy. Next time you are cruising down Whittier Boulevard on a Sunday afternoon, look for the Bomb Club Originals plaque in the back of a Chevy Bomb; chances are it will be Rocky cruising, or as he puts it, “taking the long way home.”