March 5th 1964 - June 2004

El Paso's Lowrider Phenomena

By. Eduardo Beckett


The Lowriding community of El Paso, Texas (El Chuco) is honored to nominate Leo Rivera posthumously to the Memorial Leadership Lowriding Hall of fame for his lifetime contributions to the lowrider causa.

Leo Rivera was a natural born leader who led, organized, united, and set a high bar for lowriders in Paso, TX.

Leo Rivera 2nd was born in El Paso, TX on March 5th, 1964, the year of the 1964 Impala. In 1982 during his sophomore year of high school he was a member of Brown Image Car Club. His first lowrider car was a 1977 Monte. Two years later, after graduating from Bel Air High, Brown Image car club merged into Presence Car Club. After graduation Leo left to Arizona and he studied mechanics.

After returning to El Paso from Arizona, Leo became the 2nd President of Presence Car Club. Under the direction of Leo, Presence Car Club would become a car club to be reckoned with. Presence Car Club continuously sponsored car shows that directly benefited the community like “Toys for Tots”, and “A Wish for a Star”, an event to help disabled kids. Presence Car Club even had a car wash named after their club name.

At this point, Leo had sold his 77 Monte and picked up a 79 Lincoln Mark 5 that would eventually become a show quality lowrider that Leo named Pegasus. Pegasus has been featured in Streetlow Magazine, Orlies, and Street Custom. His goal was to be on the cover of Lowrider Magazine and perhaps if he was alive that would have happened. Leo was a detailed man who built his Lincoln with the high standards of what a clean lowrider should look like. However, to Leo lowriding in not just about building a drivable show car, but rather a movement that is bigger than ourselves.

Thus, Leo was a champion for El Paso’s Lowridering Community. He worked tirelessly to show the lowriding movement in a positive light. He met with Carlos Leon, then El Paso Police Chief, and spoke up against 4th Amendment Right Violations conducted by the El Paso Police against lowriders. He challenged no cruising zones by meeting with then key city council members like, Anthony Cobos, Luis Sarias Ray-Palacios, and Larry Medina to gain support for lowriders and protest racial profiling or driving while brown in a lowrider.
Leo had a true passion for the lowriding lifestyle and he was full of charisma. Thus, when Leo spoke people listened and admired him. He was also the type of guy that would take his shirt off his back for someone in need. If you ask anyone who knew Leo they would tell you that Leo always had a smile on his face and had the ability and spirit to unite people.
In fact, in the late 80’s it was a time when El Paso was experiencing much gang violence and many kids wanted to join gangs. Leo did not stand idle and he took swift action. He organized a Slow Pitch Softball league where kids from different neighborhoods would play against each other. Some of these kids were hard core gangmembers but somehow Leo managed to gain their respect. Leo became a role model for some of these youngsters who would eventually turned in their gang colors in exchange to play softball and build a clean lowrider. These were the days where El Paso’s lowriders would cruise Ascarate Park on a Sunday afternoon. Ascarate Park is to El Paso what Whittier Boulevard is East L.A. Also, they both were shut down by the police.
Leo showed El Paso’s at large community that lowriders are not some gangbangers who cruise around looking for trouble. Rather, lowridering is imbedded in the chicano culture and lowrider cars are moving pieces of art for all to enjoy. Leo recognized that by being the President of Presence, a major El Paso lowrider Car Club, he had a responsibility to the community. Leo was set out on a mission to influence young people to give back to the community for good causes via lowriders.

Simply put, Leo was a unifier. Leo even formed a coalition with local biker clubs like the Iron Horses led by Liko. With the new formed lowrider and biker alliance Leo took on more causes for El Paso's large lowriding community. Leo and his new partner Liko would take on the big land developers who were trying to displace some El Pasoans from the Chihuahuaita neighborhood located downtown El Paso. The land developers were trying to buy out working class people to make way for upscale development for profit. As history has shown us, poor people have always being displaced by the rich and powerful without taking into account the human impact.

Nevertheless, Leo and Liko were successful in stopping the extermination of the Chihuahuaita Barrio that has been in El Paso for many years. The Chihuahuaita neighborhood stills stands today due in large part to Leo and Liko who took on a good cause for the Chihuahuaita gente. Leo’s coalition with Liko and the bikers did not stop there because Leo would also co-sponsor bike runs that were followed by lowriders to raise money for many non-profit organizations that helped raza in most need around El Paso.

Leo’s good deeds did not go unnoticed and people everywhere in Texas spread the word about Leo as fast as you can hit a switch on your lowrider. For example, Leo, would become the person to go if anyone was throwing a major car show or event in West Texas. Leo would get phone calls from legends like Sonny Ozuna from Sunny and the Sunliners whenever Sunny came to El Paso to play those great oldies.
Leo also got phone calls from legendary wrestler Eddie Guerrero who was with the Latino World Order Wrestling Federation. Whenever Eddie Guerrero came into town to shoot a video or wrestle at the El Paso Convention Center Leo would lent Eddie his 79 Lincoln Mark 5.

Also, when Selena, the famous Tejana singer was in her early stages of fame and fortune, Selena had the pleasure to meet Leo at El Paso's Fiesta De Las Flores where she performed after Leo graciously lent her his sound equipment.

You see, Leo was not only a car guy but he loved music. In fact he had a side job, disk jockey. Leo had a disco he called Reflections Disco. In the early and late 90’s if you ever went to an Imperial car show In El Paso you would have heard Leo’s voice as he was the lowrider D.J.

Leo also was the contact person for the Latin Kings of Comedy. Thus, when George Lopez, Cheech Marin and Paul Rodriguez came to El Paso and needed lowriders for their video they went to Leo.
It was not by accident that Leo became the Regional Representative of the International Lowrider Association for El Paso, TX and New Mexico.

Nevertheless, big names and big events is not what Leo was about. Rather, Leo was a grassroots Chicano lowrider man who was humble and helped anyone in need. He was a service before self type of guy. He attended small parking lot car shows if it meant that it would help someone. You could find Leo in a car show that no one has heard of or a major car show.
Leo was also instrumental in assisting the traveling play Zoot Suit. When this famous play came to El Paso and needed bombs Leo immediately contacted Hector Gonzalez, president of Latin Pride Car Club who supplied show quality bombs as follows: two 1939 Chevys, a 1937 Buick, and a 1949 Pontiac. The bombs where displayed inside and outside the El Paso Convention Center as the play took place. Without these bombs the play would not be the same.

From car shows to bike runs to protesting illegal conduct by police Leo has always been instrumental and at the forefront in making good things happen for the lowriding movement in El Paso. Leo was the type of guy who would show up late to a car show because he stopped to assist a stranded lowrider on the way to a car show. He loved life and loved meeting new people as well as helping others in need. Anytime a new lowrider car club came into existente in El Paso Leo was the person that lowrider guys would go to for advice and guidance.


Now, do you think that Leo did all this alone. Well as they say, behind every good man there is a good woman. Leo had a good woman behind him in all his endeavors for the lowrider movement. Leo was married to his high school sweet heart Lidia Rivera who states that Leo was a devoted father and husband. Leo is survived by his 19-yearold son Leo Rivera 3rd, his 17-year-old daughter Vanessa Rivera, and his grandson Leo Rivera the 4th.
We often hear stories about lowrider guys who put in so much time to the lowrider movement that they neglect their wives or family. In Leo’s case, the opposite is the truth.

Leo was always present at his kids soccer games and football games or any school event.

Leo always valued his family’s opinion and went out if his way to take care of his mom and dad. Leo’s wife will tell you that Leo’s family came first then the 79 Lincoln. Leo was able to balance family life with the lowrider lifestyle. Therefore, Leo was a devoted husband, father, friend to all while simultaneously doing great things for El Paso’s lowriding community.

Leo’s daughter Vanessa, who is Leo’s “lil girl” remembers cruising in her dad’s Lincoln at all the Thanksgiving and Christmas parades. She also remembers going to a car show in Phoniex with Leo. Now, Leo’s son Leo Rivera the 3rd is cruising his dad’s 79 Lincoln and is following his dads footsteps by being a key member of Presence Car Club. The lowrider movement will never die as long as people like Leo pass the word on to their kids for the next generation to continue with the pride, unity, honor, and the commitment that goes with building a lowrider.

One day Leo was at the Las Vegas Super show and met a car guy from Canada who had seen pictures of Leo’s car in a magazine and dreamed of owning a 79 Lincoln Mark 5. This guy went up to Leo and told Leo that he could not believe that Leo was there at the Vegas show in his dream car. That same day when the show was over Leo allowed this stranger to drive his car around the strip of Vegas. The Canadian lowrider guy cried of joy.

It is no surprise that Leo’s services were also invited to be a judge at car shows locally, nationally, and internationally. Unfortunately, Leo passed away on June 2004 and El Paso suffered a great loss. Leo’s funeral procession was lined up with lowriders that stretched six miles plus all the biker clubs that followed the lowriders. El Paso is still recuperating from the loss of Leo.

Leo’s impact on the lowrider community was felt across the big state of Texas, especially in the West Texas region. Accordingly, Nick Hernandez, a hall of fame inductee, has honored Leo by giving away a Lifetime Achievement Award in the name of Leo at Taste of Latin’s 36-year-old Tejano Supershow.

It has been four years since Leo left this short life that is given to us by our creator. However, every year on the anniversary date of Leo’s passing hundreds of people gather at his gravesite to honor his contributions to the lowrider lifestyle. Bombs, lowriders, friends young and old, and family all line up at the Evergreen Cemetery to honor Leo’s work for this special man united people and gave his heart to the lowrider community.


From the sandy beaches of Corpus Christy Texas to Alba’s Restaurant in El Paso, TX where Leo masterminded his next lowrider movement, to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Leo Rivera made a Presence with his charisma, spirit, and his 79 Lincoln. As Leo would say “say no more.”
For all the following reasons, we the El Paso Lowriders respectfully request that Leo Rivera be inducted posthumously to the Memorial Leadership Lowriding Hall of fame for his lifetime contributions to the lowrider cause.
In Solidarity,



Related Link


LEO RIVERA MEMORIAL 2010 - Six year anniversary of his passing

LEO RIVERA MEMORIAL 2010 - Six year anniversary of his passing

El Paso Car Clubs