In 1942, a 450-unit public housing project called the William Mead Homes was built in Los Angeles between the Los Angeles River and Los Angeles County Jail. The residents nicknamed the area "Dogtown" because of the proximity of the housing project to the city of Los Angeles' first dog pound. The purpose of the housing project was to provide affordable housing to residents of the city of Los Angeles. Dogtown was home to many families, including my own. Danny "Danny Boy" Dominguez and his family also lived in Dogtown when he was of youth.
While growing up in Dogtown, the youth of the area were often lured into the street life and became members of the local gang. Danny Boy was one of these wayward youths, enticed by the fast life of the streets and he quickly became caught up in the vicious cycle of gang life. In the 1960's, Dogtown was ravaged with violence, and sometimes, its residents were left with no choice but to protect themselves. Danny Boy was no exception, and on many occasions he found himself locked in street brawls.
A gentleman by the name of Freeman, who was a local park director, caught Danny Boy and another kid fighting one day. He broke up the fight and told them, "you want to fight? I'll give you something to fight about." He then took them into the park gymnasium and began training the boys into a sport that might help to channel the frustration and rage they were feeling at the time. As it turned out, Freeman was a boxer, and he saw potential in Danny Boy.
After some years of training and local bouts, Danny Boy and Freeman took a shot at the Junior Gold Gloves title in 1970. The event was held at the Los Angeles' Olympic Auditorium, where a victorious Danny Boy came away from the event a champion. Boxing was a great deterrent to keep Danny Boy away from the gang life and on a path to success, but the streets kept summoning him back.
As one of the youngest of 15 children, Danny Boy was also exposed to Lowriding at a young age. His father and older siblings were heavily into Lowriding, which played a significant and much more positive influence in Danny Boy's life than his street experiences. Danny Boy remembers piling into his father's station wagon and hearing his dad rap his pipes under the bridge on Whittier Boulevard. While he did enjoy the pastime, Danny Boy's interest in Lowriding did not peak until after the family moved out of Dogtown.
In 1971, the Dominguez family relocated to the Elysian Valley area of Los Angeles. This area is also known as Frogtown based on its proximity to the Los Angeles River, home of the annual exodus of frogs from the river into Elysian Valley. After moving to Frogtown, Danny Boy met Bosco Cordova, who was the younger brother of hydraulics legend, "Old Man Frank" Cordova. Bosco introduced Danny Boy to Old Man Frank, and he was soon hanging out at Old Man Frank's house.
As a kid, Danny Boy played with Hot Wheels and built plastic model kits. He used to bring his freshly built models over to Old Man Frank's house to show him his work. A few times, a local painter that "Old Man Frank" knew by the name of Paul painted some of Danny Boy's models with candies and pearls. Although he was painting the models for Danny Boy, he was also using them as samples for his customers. Eventually, he started to build Lowrider Bikes and Chopper Bikes since he was still too young to drive.
Of course, many of you know that Old Man Frank's house was the place to get your car lifted in the 1970's. Danny Boy used to see clubs like the Artistics, Lifestyle, Imperials, and Groupe come to the house for custom hydraulic setups. He was able to meet a lot of members of different clubs and he decided that he really liked what he saw in Lowriding. He also liked that there was no neighborhood drama at Old Man Frank's, his place was declared neutral. At times, Danny Boy felt like his older brother and Old Man Frank were both trying to keep him from his neighborhood, but that was not the case. They were simply trying to guide him onto a more productive and positive life that included Lowriding.
Danny Boy bought his first car, a1967 Chevy Impala, and never looked back. Although he was still boxing, Lowriding became his new passion. He went through the '67, three '63 Super Sports, before he finally settled on the 1970 Monte Carlo he is known for. He got the car and some cash after trading in one of his '63 Super Sports. The car was all original and looked as if it had rolled fresh off the showroom floor. He took the car to Old Man Frank and had it lifted, paying Frank with the cash he had received in trade.
During the years of 1976 to 1980, Danny Boy was Lowriding solo. He was hitting car shows and hitting the Boulevard like everyone else, but he remained unaffiliated with any car clubs. One weekend in 1980, Danny Boy went to Whittier Boulevard with his friend from Chinatown, "Chino Willie." Chino Willie and his friends were American-born Chinese, who were into Lowriding and had really nice cars.
The group of friends ended up kicking it with Groupe Car Club at their lot on the Boulevard. As it turned out, some of the members of Groupe were guys that Danny Boy knew from high school. He also knew some of the other members like Buggs, Pelon, and Carlos Carbahal from the car shows and Old Man Frank's house. After hanging out for the night with the club, they invited him to their meeting at Legg Lake Park. Danny Boy started to hang out with the club and eventually became a member.
During a "Quincenera" procession with the club, the Monte Carlo was wrecked. The car was totalled, but Danny Boy brought it home and rebuilt it. He also had it repainted. The car was then stolen and recovered, with only the Hydraulics missing. Since Danny Boy has had the Monte Carlo, it has been wrecked twice, burned completely, and painted five times. It probably had more metal pieces chromed and re-chromed than any other Lowrider. I commented to Danny Boy during our interview that the car is meant to stay with him; especially after all it has endured through the years.
Danny Boy's time in Groupe Car Club started when Atlantic and Beverly Boulevard in East L.A. served as the meeting place for the Imperials, Lifestyle, Together, and Groupe. Each club had its corner lot where meetings were held. Danny Boy was a regular visitor to each lot, because he had a lot of friends that were part of the clubs mentioned.
Lowriding in the 1970's and 1980's was about cruising first, and car shows second. Danny Boy and Groupe, as well as the other popular clubs of the era were always on the Boulevard. Even if you had a full chrome undercarriage, you still drove your car to the Boulevard and car shows, as it was vital to have the street respect of your peers. 5.20 tires and Tru Rays were the popular rolling stock, and every car was lifted front and back.
Danny Boy has been an active member of Groupe Car Club since the day he joined in 1980. He ran the mother chapter (East LA) for 5 years. A few years ago, he did step back to concentrate on yet another rebuild of the Monte Carlo. When he came back, he asked for the okay and blessing of the mother chapter to start his own chapter.
In 2008, Danny Boy opened up the Southern California chapter for Groupe Car Club. The chapter encompasses all of the Southern California areas and has members from the different counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino. The chapter has grown over the past two years and continues to prosper.
Since he started Lowriding back in the 1970's, Danny Boy considered 5.20 tires and Tru Ray wheels to be the only rolling stock to have on a Lowrider. Since then, he has acquired a nice collection of 5.20s, 5.60s tires and Tru Rays. He loves these wheels and says that there is nothing else he'll put on the Monte Carlo. Lowrider Magazine will be doing a separate feature on Danny Boy's Monte Carlo in a future issue, so you will be able to see one of the original sets of 5.20 tires and Tru Ray wheels.
I asked Danny Boy his feelings on Lowriding today. He commented that while he still loves the culture, its priorities have shifted from the streets to the shows. While there is nothing wrong with that, in the 1970's and 1980's, Lowriding was all about cruising. He also commented on the camaraderie that is a part of Lowriding now. For the most part, the days of car clubs not getting along are gone, and clubs are much more willing to help each other out.
After all of these years, Danny Boy is not slowing down. The So Cal chapter of Groupe Car Club is active, as are Danny Boy and his beloved Monte Carlo. He would like to go back to the Dogtown projects and put on a car show for the youngsters that live there. Through his example, he wants to show them that anything is possible, and they too, can get out of the projects and own a Lowrider if they so desire. He knows firsthand what they are going through and hopes he will make a difference, even if it is only one youngster. Thankfully for him, he had people to steer him in the right direction when he was a youngster.
Danny Boy would like to dedicate this feature to his brothers. We would like to thank Danny Boy for his dedication to the Lowriding Culture. See you on the streets; we'll be on 5.20's too!