September 2011 marked a milestone for Groupe Car Club, as their founding East Los Angeles Chapter celebrated 40 years of existence. The club wanted to make sure they recognized this important anniversary of their timeline, so they decided to commemorate the occasion by holding an enormous banquet at the Pomona Valley Mining Company Restaurant in Pomona, California. Current and past members came to pay their respects to this prestigious club; one that has consistently been among the top rated, trend-setting car clubs in Lowriding history!
Groupe was created in East Los Angeles (ELA), California, back in July, 1971. Some guys who had been in other clubs had come together because they simply wanted something different and special. Steve Alvarez-Mott is the current vice president of the ELA chapter, and he served as one of the major organizers of the 40th Anniversary banquet. Steve recalled his induction into the club back in 1973, when he was still in high school. With all the club members being involved with the complexities of life and club politics, Steve noticed that no one was commenting on the impending 40th anniversary. The anniversary was certainly on his mind however, so he decided to bring it up at a club meeting two years ago to create dialogue and awareness among the members to ensure that it would be properly celebrated. Steve wanted it to be a special event because in retrospect, the club had come so far over the years and their place in the history of Lowriding was pivotal. Steve took the bull by the horns and spearheaded the planning for the banquet, first considering many locations for the celebration. The Pomona Mining Company was ultimately chosen for its elegant accommodations and great food, along with the spectacular view it offers patrons.
When considering the entertainment options, Steve opted to stay away from an ordinary DJ. As with past Groupe anniversary celebrations, the music had to be presented live. Many bands were considered, but ACE was the group settled on because, coincidently, it was their 40th anniversary, too! ACE had played for Groupe many times back in the ‘70s at their club dances. More recently, the band had been voted by Los Angeles Magazine as the city’s best dance and show band.
Steve began reaching out to members of all the Groupe chapters including, So. Cal., Orange County, San Diego, Inland Empire, Riverside County, Bakersfield, Arizona, Bombs, and Las Vegas. Because many of the original ELA chapter members had been inactive for many years due to family and work obligations, the effort in finding and inviting these individuals proved to be a difficult task, but Steve did his investigative work and tracked down most of these members.
Originally, Steve planned for about 300 guests, but as the event date drew closer, there was an overwhelming demand and eventually 400 Groupe members and their families bought tickets for $50 each! All chapters were asked to contribute memorabilia from their chapter’s history with photos, magazine articles, banners, and other Groupe items.
This anniversary banquet was a black tie affair, complete with tuxedos in the blue Groupe colors. The ladies dressed elegantly too! Professional photographs of the guests with the Hollywood style background (but in the Groupe theme) were provided by Tom Figueroa. All guests were served first class steak and chicken dinners by the restaurant while Groupe memorabilia of the event in the form of beer mugs and shot glasses were given to all the members in attendance.
Eddie Flores, the first Groupe president, gave an inspirational speech about the vision of the club for the future, including website development, charity events, club unity, expansion of the club, and scholarship offerings. Awards were given to each chapter in recognition of their efforts and contributions over the years. Special awards were given to original member, Johnny Ramos, for still flying club colors on his 1940 bomb. Danny-Boy, from the So. Cal. chapter and Greg Barragan, from the Vegas chapter, were also awarded for their excellent dedication and leadership. Danny Soto, Joey, and Carlos were awarded for dedicated membership, Johnny Manougian for leadership, and Steve Alvarez-Mott for his overall efforts. Steve was also recognized for putting on the largest event in Groupe history. A moment of remembrance for all the Groupe brothers who had passed on was ultimately cherished before the dancing began.
On his behalf and the behalf of the Groupe members in attendance, Steve says the best part of the evening was seeing the members and their families smiling and enjoying themselves in brotherhood. He personally hopes this fire will continue to burn in the hearts and spirits of all Groupe members who were present, and he hopes it will forever unite the and preserve the bond that the club shares in the future.