The Chicanas form the first automobile club of its kind in the valley
Ladies, get in your classic cars and start your engines.
A new automobile club has formed in Modesto, but this time it’s the Chicanas behind the wheel and they are there to say that women love cars too.
The Chicana Car Club was formed in Modesto in June and currently has three members. It is the first Chicana automobile club in the Central Valley, which originally started in Merced, and has two other chapters in Tulare and East Bay.
Formerly a member of Modesto’s Impalas Car Club, Chicana Car Club founder Elisa Trevino said she decided to form the group after she divorced and missed the cruise. Women from all walks of life and all types of cars, but no newer than 1993, can register for free as long as their vehicles are running and in good condition.
Behind Trevino’s lipstick once stood a young girl who fell in love with cars while helping her father with mechanical work.
“I was the one who was always in the garage with my dad,” said the youngest of five. “I had my little hands in there … that’s what made me love cars.”
But when 42-year-old Trevino drives his ice-blue 1965 Chevrolet Impala, he’s often asked if her husband let her borrow his car for a ride.
“It’s always something about the husband (or) boyfriend, and I don’t mean disrespectful but… women are now equal to men,” she said.
At the time, it was common for a woman to drive her man’s car, Trevino said. However, Angie Berumen, 44, a member of the automobile club, said it was no longer a man’s world. Women also own classic and low-rider cars.
“You feel like you’re doing something right,” said Berumen, when she’s behind the wheel of her 1969 meadow green Chevrolet Impala, where a serape, or a long, colorful and authentic shawl rests on the dashboard. of his car, reflecting Mexican pride. . She added that as a single mom, she found the group to be stimulating, a place where she isn’t intimidated and can let herself go.
“You do it for women,” she said. “So that everyone knows that we can stand up and show ourselves.”
Her sister, Christina Berumen, who is also a member of the Chicana Car Club, said she has been collecting classic cars for years, but never took them for a ride. But when she saw Trevino, another woman who loved classic cars like herself, she was inspired to run her 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass.
“I’m going to get out of my car and follow his routes,” she remembers thinking.
Although Trevino lives in Merced, she oversees the Modesto chapter and decided to form a group here due to her cruising history. McHenry Avenue was the place to go on Friday nights, she said, but in 1990 Modesto banned cruises, arguing there was excessive violence, vandalism and drugs.
“There was a time when I didn’t have a babysitter,” said the former teenage mother, but “you can’t miss the cruise on McHenry!” So she took her baby.
Are police relations improving?
Now that Trevino is older, she said she doesn’t get stopped by the police like she used to, but feels officers still have a misconception about people driving classic cars like hers. or low riders.
“They think a lot of us are gangsters and drug dealers, and believe it or not you must have a pretty decent job, or you know, a husband or someone to help,” he said. she said, explaining that not everyone can fix a classic or a low rider because it takes patience and continuous investment.
Modesto Impalas Car Club member Alejandro Bravo said he believed police and city leaders were starting to see members of the Chicano car club community for what they really were: people with a culture and a family that give back to their community.
“I really think the stereotype is gone. … The police know… we do things in the community, ”he said.
For Bravo, the Chicano coach club culture is synonymous with family. It is a tradition his father shared with him when he was a young boy and which he now shares with his grandchildren.
He added that he and other members of the auto club were once again working on legalizing the cruise in Modesto and had received an invitation from Mayor Sue Zwahlen, Police Chief Brandon Gillespie and a few members of the city council to come together. meet to discuss it.
“(Gillespie) was really ready to listen to what we had to say… and the mayor was open,” Bravo said, adding that this gives him hope that one day the cruise will be legal again in Modesto.