Many Lowriders often know the streets they cruise on like the back of their hands. They can recite from memory every location, parking spot, and eatery they frequently go to in their nightly quest to be the baddest on the Boulevard. While it takes a certain talent to have this constant map in your mental glove box, even the most seasoned Lowrider cannot predict the twists and turns they will face on the road of life. Take the story of 52-year-old Lowrider aficionado Raymond Foley, who was born in Louisville, KY, in 1958. Raymond's journey to becoming a Boulevard legend led him to face a test that would have made a lesser man give up his car keys forever.
Raymond's parents moved to the City of Compton, CA in 1962, giving the young boy a chance to grow up in this budding SoCal city, a place where Lowrider cars had slowly began to emerge. After vowing to himself that he would one day get behind the wheel of one of these amazing vehicles, 14-year-old Raymond officially dedicated himself to the Lowrider culture. "Back then there were no Car Clubs, so it was just a bunch of friends and family members getting together to cruise and enjoy their rides," recalls Raymond. It was in this very time that the Compton High student got his first taste of automotive freedom, as his oldest sister, Ranonna, gave him a Camaro. The eager Raymond couldn't wait to begin customizing his new ride.
After the Camaro was given to him, he immediately had it repainted in an elegant green color, and decided to give the car a white vinyl top, in order to bring even more life to the exterior. The car was clean, but to be official, he knew he would have to add the necessary loud sound system and give the car the era-defining 13-inch Cragars to ride on. Raymond then joined the Camaro Firebird Club, cementing his street status by joining this exclusive, 60-member club. Every weekend, this dedicated rider would make the drive to Sportsman Park in Los Angeles, CA, to spend time with his friends and fellow Club members. After he graduating from high school, Raymond went straight to work for Rockwell International. This job allowed him to switch gears and save up enough money to also graduate from the Camaro. He moved on to purchase a '77 Cadillac DeVille. Raymond drove the Caddy in its stock condition for a few months before deciding it was time to customize the car. This decision would become a much longer journey than he could ever imagine.
Raymond initially took the Caddy to Tijuana, Mexico, where it received a new interior. The next day, he dropped his car off at the legendary Orlie's Hydraulics, where their dedicated crew had his car finished and laying on his front yard in a mere 24 hours later. The '77 seemed complete, now that it had an F.B.S.S. setup and was painted Peanut Butter Gold. The car even had 13-inch spokes, but a jarring reality would leave his Lowriding dreams far from complete. One night, after leaving his girlfriend's house in the Fruit Town district of Compton, Raymond unknowingly walked into a gunfight and was shot in the back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down and restricted to a wheel chair for the rest of his life. After being in a coma for two weeks at MLK Hospital in Compton, Raymond was transferred to Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center, where he had to learn how to use his arms to operate his wheelchair and become self-dependent. Devastated, he was forced to sell his precious '77 Cadillac Deville, since he no longer had the ability to drive it. Raymond was determined to be back in a Lowrider again, and worked hard to cope with his disability. His friends took notice, and felt compelled to help him regain his rightful place within the culture.