The New Mexico History Museum’s First Annual Lowrider Day starts with a bang, and appropriately, a thump. Crowds line the streets of Santa Fe’s historic plaza as more than 130 genuine lowriders make the winding drive from the nearby mountaintop park. Part parade, all auto-eye-candy, the procession snakes through the centuries-old plaza. Modified sound systems thump, hydraulic-fueled chassis shimmy, and to the delight of the onlookers, a daring driver catches some air – bumping the front tires of his polished gold Monte Carlo up, up, and off the road. The slam-dunk of lowriding.
Dan Kosharek, museum curator, has spent the better part of two years organizing Lowriders, Hoppers and Hot Rods: Car Culture of Northern New Mexico,” and the accompanying Lowrider Day.” New Mexico’s love affair with lowriders showcases the best of our people,” he explains, “each car tells a story of pride, perseverance, and dedication.”
Passion and pride of ownership rule Lowrider Day. Curious bystanders become awestruck devotees as they see the vehicles up-close. And proud owners revel in the opportunity to tell the story behind their “baby” to any of thousands of attendees strolling the car display. But it’s the Hopping Demo that has spectators, and drivers, curious.
The casual crowd becomes noticeably amped up as six glorious vintage lowriders line up for Hopping – the physics-defying lowrider magic that transforms two tons of American-made steel into bumping, jumping, “hopping” machines. The vehicles meet reactions ranging from groans and trash-talk, “Is that as high as you can get!?” to reverent silence as a humble looking coupe gets almost 90° of lift.
But it’s not all fun, the crowd discovers, as an ambitious Impala lands a Hop with an axle-cracking thud. Mechanics scurry out, somehow “MacGyver-ing” the Impala into a temporarily mobile status. The crowd applauds, a little dazed, then quickly turns attention to the next Hopper.
Lowrider Day is a gateway to lowrider culture, a legacy which historians link to important American experiences including World War II and the Chicano Movement of the 1960s. And although we highly recommend it, a trip to the New Mexico History Museum’s exhibit is not required to gain some valuable lessons from lowriders.
Here are five key takeaways from Lowrider Day that will give you that extra bounce of pride:
1.) Own it
Real Lowriders make sure you know whose vehicle – from nameplates, to custom interiors. If you love your vehicle, take the time to make it yours and yours alone.
2.) Maintenance Matters
Consistent maintenance on everything from tire rotation to oil changes keeps vehicles running better now. And, as some classic owners can attest, decades later.
3.) Team up
No job is too big for a dedicated team. Share your skills with buddies and family, and benefit from their experience and partnership. Real Lowriders do it together.
4.) Show your pride
Take a slow drive across the mall parking lot, local drive-in, or park just to let others admire your work. You’ve earned it.
5.) Pass it on
Lowriders learn skills from earlier generations, and share that knowledge with generations to come. Find a protégée, admirer, or family member to keep your car secrets rolling.
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