The city of San Diego, California certainly has its own unique place within the rich history of the Lowrider culture. From the car shows at the legendary Chicano Park, to the lawsuit filed by The Lowrider Council and Committee on Chicano Rights to stop the local police from shutting down Highland Avenue in National City, the city has certainly seen its share of historical events within our culture. Rigoberto "Rigo" Reyes was one of the many Lowrider advocates that were instrumental in achieving the desired goals in both of these historic events, while also promoting a positive image of Lowrider Culture throughout the city. Our culture has been uplifted through the efforts of Rigo and his contemporaries, and through his many years of service to the Lowrider Movement, Rigo has never lost his focus.
Born in San Diego, California, Rigoberto "Rigo" Reyes was raised in Tijuana, Mexico until he was 7 years old, when Rigo and his family moved to San Ysidro, California. The Reyes family stayed in San Ysidro until Rigo was 12, before ultimately settling back in San Diego, a city that Rigo has called his home ever since. As is the case of most Lowrider enthusiasts, Rigo was first introduced to the Lowriding Culture by an older friend. Living in San Ysidro at the time, Rigo's older brother had a friend who had a lifted 1957 Chevy. The car was lifted in the front, but when the guy laid his car on the ground, it was love at first sight for Rigo. Unfortunately, Rigo was only about 11 years old when he experienced this seminal moment, so his dream of riding low would have to wait a few years before it could be ultimately realized. At 17 years old, Rigo got his first car, a 1957 Chevy 4 Door. Rigo wasted no time, instantly modifying the car with suicide doors and lifting it on all sides. At the time, people were experimenting with hydraulics on the back end of vehicles, so Rigo tore apart the whole trunk and put in a bridge that would help the Chevy withstand the up and down motion.
There was a lot of turmoil within the neighborhoods of San Diego during the early 1970's, and Rigo was trying his best to stay out of trouble. Although the right wing bias in the media considered the issues in the neighborhoods "gang issues," Rigo and his peers never considered themselves to be in "gangs" or to be "gangsters". They were just kids that grew up within the same neighborhoods. Since Rigo had his car and the Lowrider fever, there was no time for neighborhood drama. The culture provided a way out for Rigo, for him, It was all about Lowriding and the Chicano Movement.
Rigo was also devoting a lot of his time to the Chicano Movement, hoping to bring about social change and opportunities for Mexican-Americans. He had been directly influenced by Cesar E. Chavez and the United Farm Workers (UFW) while growing up in San Ysidro, and looked to let that influence guide him towards working for Chicano rights. Rigo and his family lived in apartments in San Ysidro that did not have a designated play area, so they would play in the city's Civic Center. While playing in the city's Civic Center Rigo found himself mesmerized by Cesar's speeches, and felt pride in seeing the Brown Berets in the area. Those encounters were a big influence on Rigo, and they ultimately shaped him as a man. When he moved back to San Diego, he took his activism and appreciation for Lowriding to another level. It was more than just a way for him to keep busy and out of trouble, he now saw it as an upward movement for Mexican -Americans. With 57 strong on the streets of San Diego, it was time to find other Lowriders, and really put the city on the map.