Ride Pride

By Krystal Cruz | Monday, October 25th 2021

Outside the Valero gas station on Pearce Lane, John Chavez pops the hood on his classic ‘79 Chevrolet El Camino. But he’s not experiencing car trouble. Chavez hopes to draw locals to take a look under the hood and inspire them to bring out their own rides. “I see a lot of these cars out here, I see them just in the driveways, you know,” Chavez says. “It's about getting them motivated to want to do something with their car ... that way, you know, they'll start feeling more comfortable and more prideful about their ride.”

As President of the Austin chapter of Prophecy de Tejas Car Club, Chavez hosts weekly car meets beside one of Del Valle’s highly trafficked roads in hopes of capturing locals' interest enough to inspire them to participate.

“They come by coming home from work or coming to put gas or get something from the store and they see us out there,” Chavez says. “They ask, ‘What's it about?’ and [I] explain it to them.”

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John Chavez’s youngest son, Adrian, wipes dirt from underneath the hood of his father’s 79’ Chevrolet El Camino parked in the Edward Rendon Sr. Metro Park at Festival Beach, otherwise known as Chicano Park to the locals. Sunday afternoons in Chicano Park have involved car meets for the East Austin community for years, and Chavez does all in his power to keep the scene going so that it may be something his son enjoys in the future as well.

Chavez has a long history with car club culture in Central Texas. Growing up, Chavez attended long standing meetups in the Edward Rendon Sr. Metro Park at Festival Beach, otherwise known to the locals as Chicano Park. Taking the tradition from his childhood neighborhood in East Austin, he says he’s determined to build up that same tradition in Del Valle. But he doesn’t just view these weekly meets as a place to see nice rides. It’s also a chance to connect with his neighbors.

“We give them a place where they feel comfortable and it's local,” he says. “It helps the community bond together, knowing that, hey, there's other people out there like minded.”

By making the event free and open to the public, Chavez makes sure to express to anybody who passes by that they are welcome to hang no matter what model or state their ride is in. He also makes sure to stay late for any last minute attendees who can’t come by until after their evening shifts.

“The thing is … everybody loves cars,” Chavez says. “So it doesn't matter who they are, what race they are ... they want to come check out the cars and sometimes they want to bring out their car.”

Amongst the parked cars is Jojo Villalba’s 85’ Buick Lesabre. Villalba has participated in Chavez’s organized car meets for over four months and says the Del Valle car meets provide a laid back and relaxing space for him to showcase his car.

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Car meet participant Jojo Villalba waxes his 85’ Buick Lesabre outside the Valero gas station on Pearce Lane in Del Valle, waiting for other attendees to show up. Purchased when he was young, Villabla plans to pass down the car to his son once he’s older.

“I’m not really into the competition,” Villalba says. “I wanted to just come out and show my hard work.”

Chavez says although the car meets have grown a small following of regular participants, attendance often fluctuates because of conflicting work schedules or distance to the location from local’s homes. It’s because of this, Chavez continues to fight to find new locations to host meets around Del Valle to cater to more hobbyists in the area.

“We constantly keep things going and try to keep the scene going, because at the end of the day, it's not just about us, but the other people out there that love their rides and want somewhere else to take it out besides downtown Austin,” he says. “I'm trying to build a tradition out here.”

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