Gallery: Rollin’ Into This Year’s Fourth Rockabilly Rod Festival

When I went to school, I was looked down upon because I had a classic ’58 Chevy that needed some work and rolled around in flat primer. Even though the car ran better and most times faster than anyone else’s old car in school, I was the outcast in the eyes of some students (and it goes without saying, 99-percent of the faculty).

My wardrobe consisted of black t-shirts with faded and cracked silk-screened logos for companies like Hooker Headers, Holley and ACCEL, cuffed jeans and black Converse “Chuck Taylors.”

Fast forward to present time, and guess what? I’m still wearing the same stuff. Sad but true. I don’t mean the same shirt and jeans, as age has caught up with me (and my waistline) but I do mean the same style.

In this line of work, I cover a lot of car shows and some are very fun with cool old cars and likewise for the people. So when I had a chance to cover the Latino Student Union Rockabilly Festival, I was immediately reminded of my teenage self.

When I pulled into the parking lot at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, where the event was being held, the first thing I saw was a hoodless air-bagged ’62 Chevy pickup laying low on its frame. Immediately, I knew I was in the right place.

As I scoured the parking lot for cars to shoot, I took a long, hard look at the crowd. I saw more pompadours, cuffed jeans, and of course, black Converse high tops, than any8 James Dean movie from the 50’s. Most of the girls were sporting the look too. Pedal pushers, flowers in their vintage hairstyles and “look-at-me” red lipstick.

What I’m trying to say here is that it was so refreshing to see this school support these students, their look and their cars. Unlike my high school school, which at the time felt more like a Hitler youth summer camp, doing everything in their power to ban my car, and others like it, Pitzer College not only allowed this cool event to take place on campus, but they budgeted money toward the event based on what the student union promised to do with the money! They must be doing something right, because this is the 4th annual show and it keeps getting bigger every year.

Let’s not forget the cars. I found everything from slammed trucks to tricked out Caddys, ’60’s classics, custom lowriders, rat rods, lead sleds and a few early ’70’s cars. Look close at the pics, cause you’re going to see a few of them in upcoming features throughout the year.

The car show was strong and so were the bands. These bands were playing everything from rockabilly to big band style music. For the latter, a band called “The Wise Guys” did an awesome set, and with a full horn section they had the crowd movin’ to the big band beat.

Other bands that were a little more rowdy with names like, “Don Juan y Los Blancos,” “Johnny Come Lately,” “Gamblers Mark,” and “Omar and the Stringpoppers.”

Did I mention food? You can’t go to a Latino style event without good food, and there was plenty of that. I can’t go into detail because it would take up the rest of the story, but you get the idea.

Needless to say, I had a great time at this year’s Latino Student Union Rockabilly Festival. I saw cool cars, listened to cool bands and met some very nice people. So if you’re into cars and are headed to college in the near future, Pitzer College out in Claremont, California is a great choice. While my college days are over, I am definitely going to be back next year. Hasta la vista, baby.

About the author

Tom Gomez

Tom's background is pure automotive. He started as a contributing editor for Lowrider Magazine and says it was the driving force that allowed him to be an accomplished editor and professional photographer. With a racing background, Tom worked at NASCAR running the Coleman Company marketing campaign at tracks all over the U.S., and also managed the Jim Dunn /K&N funny car with driver Frank Pedregon. He brings a fresh perspective of old school rods and culture to Power Automedia as a freelance contributor.
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