They came in beaming bright colors, and in all shapes, sizes, makes and models.

Their deep bass sounds shook windows and echoed into the air.

Some came on all fours, others on trailers, and they hailed not just from the Racine area, but from Waukegan, Zion and Chicago. Their destination was the second annual Los Latinos' Lowrider Fest, held June 26 at Racine Festival Park. Los Latinos, a Hispanic club for students at Washington Park High School, held the first Lowrider Fest last year to help raise money for club members planning to go to college. Club co-adviser Lisa Moll said most of the club members were having a difficult time getting financial aid, and couldn't afford to continue their education without some help. "The original plan for the car show was to have it in the parking lot of the high school," Moll said. "I told them, `Why stop there? Lets take it further.' " Los Latinos took the event to Racine's largest venue, Festival Park. "Last year's event went very well. There was a lot of support and a lot of cars," Moll said. "We even had a lot of mothers volunteer their time on the day of the event." That success spurred students, with the help of co-advisers Moll and Manuel Sosa, to begin planning for this year. "They did a magnificent job," Moll said of the students. This year, the event attracted about 500 people, and there were 53 cars and eight bikes entered in the show. After expenses were paid, the group raised $1,785 for scholarships. In addition to raising money, "the purpose is to show the world that lowriders doesn't mean low life; it means a lot of talent and hard work," Moll said. Susana Becerra, president of Los Latinos, said, "This is a time to put ourselves in the community and get together to have a nice time." A lowrider is a vehicle modified with a lowered suspension so the body is closer than normal to the road. Custom tires enhance the effect, and a ground-effects kit can be added to get the vehicle's body even lower. Some vehicles are set up with hydraulic systems, operated with lots of batteries, pumps and switches, that can give the vehicle a "hopping" effect. The vehicles can ride high -- jacked up off the ground -- or extremely low, and even jump and dance. Prices for such a system can cost from $400 to $4,000. Lowriding was originated as a pastime by Hispanics in California after World War II. Now it attracts people from all backgrounds. "There are a lot of stereotypes about lowriders," said John Rosplock, a member of a new Racine car club, Lifetime. "It's just different culture and I like it." "Some people would say lowriding is a sport, some would say it's a hobby. I would say it's both," said Mike Ervin, a member of the Ground Force Car Club. Ervin and club members have been competing in lowrider events for four years. Ervin won the All Around Best Lowrider award at this year's Los Latinos event. "This is pretty cool," Ervin said of the award. "I was glad my guys were there to root for me." While Ervin said the event was a little expensive for participants (the $35 entry fee is higher than for many such competitions), it was worth it. "Especially if it goes to the kids' scholarships," Ervin said. There was also a sound-off competition for vehicles that have stereo systems with large subwoofers (10-, 12-, 15- or even 18-inch speakers), CD players, tweeters and mid-range speakers. The sound systems create the effect of a surround-sound theater, pounding out a deep bass tone of rap and hip-hop music. "I enjoy watching the hydraulics and the sound-off competition," said Billy Becket of Racine. The event also included four beauty pageants, a disc jockey, a Mexican band, break dancers and food. But the vehicles -- cars, trucks, even bikes -- were the center of attention. A total of 25 trophies were given to winners in categories for bikes, cars and sound. "This was really nice," said Josh Keeran, one of many in the crowd who was viewing lowriders for the first time. A number of new ideas are already in the works for next year's Lowrider Fest.

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