Lowriders to be celebrated in Fresno this weekend

The Valley's low-riding culture will be celebrated this weekend when the Fresno Grizzlies take the field as the Fresno Lowriders.

The once-heavily policed activity in Fresno is now in the sports spotlight.

Lowriders have certainly come a long way.

The car enthusiasts see their vehicles as works of art and the attention drawn through the ballgames will give the lowrider culture a much more positive image.

The Travel Team Car Club pours their heart, soul and cash into these tricked-out rides.

Rob Barajas has a sweet '63 Impala. He was surprised to hear about the Grizzlies plans to celebrate lowrider culture.

"It was an honor. It was an honor when they asked, We couldn't decline it," Barajas says.

Car clubs often involve generations of families interested in classic cars.

But there was a time lowriders were linked to gangs. Police established limits on when lowriders could cruise Kings Canyon.

"I remember that because I used to drive my car. It would be 3-4 four times a week I used to get pulled over because the wheels are too small, because the steering wheel being too small," says Juan Cienfuegos of Clovis.

The trunk of Juan's 72 Monte Carlo pays tribute to his family and heritage.

The process of moving past negative stereotypes has been slow and low.

"It's evolved. Now you have from lawyers to teachers to business owners that lowride," says Barajas.

Actor Dave Bautista is also a club member. He owns a '64 Impala.

On Saturday, Fulton between Merced and Mono will be shut down for a pre-game car show.

Jesse Beltran will have his 1939 Chevy truck out there.

"These vehicles that go out there to be shown take years sometimes. Lots of money. Those people are talented," Beltran says.

The Grizzlies were looking for another way to connect with the Latino community.

"We're going to start to create that awareness and that recognition here to where the lowriding scene gets out of the shadow of being affiliated with gangs or being something negative," Ray Ortiz, who organized the event, says.

Judges will select a Best in Show lowrider while Grizzlies' fans will vote for the People's Choice.
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