Reversing Stereotypes: Lowriding community gives teens a place to turn instead of gangs

Sep 17, 2023, 10:24 PM | Updated: Sep 18, 2023, 5:32 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Reversing stereotypes isn’t easy, and one group has been trying since the ’90s.

With the flip of a switch, Sergio Ferrel hops his 1983 Chevy Malibu Wagon up to 85 inches into the air.

Sergio hopping a car.

Ferrel hopping a car. (Courtesy: Sergio Ferrel)

“It was Hot Wheels when I was little,” said Ferrel. “But now I have an actual car.”

Ferrel is an 18-year-old high school graduate who keeps winning first place at lowriding competitions.

It’s a big deal that he graduated, especially because Ferrel said teens his age aren’t always hanging around the best crowd.

Sergio and dad holding a frame of his mom at high school graduation.

Ferrel and dad holding a frame of his mom at high school graduation. (Courtesy: Sergio Ferrel)

“Gangs are far away from this,” Ferrel said.

Which is precisely what lowriding club members like Connie Medina are trying to bring about with their clubs.

“This just keeps them off the street and in a family environment,” Medina said.

Sergio winning first place at Lowriding competition.

Ferrel winning first place at the Lowriding competition. (Courtesy: Sergio Ferrel)

But it hasn’t always been this way.

Newspapers from the late ’70s suggest lowriders were considered “car gangs” that were “high on the police list,” leading to an “anti-lowrider campaign” and, ultimately, a “ban on lowriding” in California.

That ban is still in place, but a new bill proposed in California in 2023 hopes to lift it, as lowriding has become “an alternative to gang involvement.”

Both Medina and Ferrel said lowriding saved their lives. When he was just a child, Ferrel’s mom passed away – lowriding provided a community to support him.

“It gave me somewhere to go to. I’d go into my garage and just not think of that, just go and put some work into the car,” Ferrel said.

Early in her marriage, Medina and her husband lost their daughter to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Medina started working on a lowrider and now owns six.

“It helps me whenever I’m feeling down, sad, or whatever,” Medina said. “I can call up a car member and say, ‘Hey, let’s cruise!'”

It is an expensive hobby that has become a lifestyle and life help for the two lowriders.

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Reversing Stereotypes: Lowriding community gives teens a place to turn instead of gangs