By Karem Rodriguez
The Embarcadero was the backdrop for the annual King of the Streets Car Show and Hopping Contest organized by the San Francisco Lowrider Council. Hundreds of lowrider cars and fans gathered last Saturday, August 20, at pier 30-32 during a sunny summer day to celebrate culture, community, and history.
This is one of the biggest and most anticipated lowriders gatherings in Norcal where the public can explore different classic car styles, and enjoy a hopping competition where the owners use remote controls to make their cars hop and jump using hydraulics suspension.
For Lowrider Council founder, Roberto Hernandez, this happening is an outcome he didn’t anticipate when he started the group 41 years ago. “The goal wasn’t hosting car events, I organized the lowriders because police didn’t allow us to drive in our cars, they were harassing us and giving us tickets, and they even closed Mission street so we couldn’t cruise,” said Hernandez as he speaks about the lawsuit he and his fellows won against the City and the police department to be able to cruise freely.
Nine years have passed since King of the Streets took place for the first time at pier 70, since then it has been held in different places like Fort Mason, Cow Palace, and City College. On this occasion, it was dedicated to Young Hogg who recently passed away. “When we started King of the Streets, Hogg was the one who was doing events for lowrider cars around the country, so we asked him for permission because that is part of our culture. He gave us his blessing and he was the host of the hopping contest,” Hernandez said.
It’s noticeable the care owners put into their cars, and for many of them, this is a great event where they can share their love for their cars with family and friends. “I have always been into cars, it’s something that I like and I can do it with my family,” said Ashley Palomo who accompanied by her kids brought her peach-colored Impala for the first time after three years of working on having it ready.
Typically lowriding is about going low and slow but the main attraction last Saturday was watching the cars bounce and hop as high as possible. Competitors go from first-timers to experienced hopers but all of them work hard to build their cars.
“He put a lot so the car would be ready for today because last week it was having problems”, said Jessica Ponce about her boyfriend Alexander Dominguez who was participating in the hopping contest for the first time with his 1962 gold Impala.
While spectators gathered around the pit watching each competitor make their car jump, judges used a giant rule that goes up to 120 inches to measure the bottom of the front wheel of the car when it’s in the air. This year the winner’s hop was 98 inches and was reached by the car of the Majestics Team.
After the contest, a cruising down Mission street marked the end of this year’s King of the Streets.