Featured: La Carretera Brings The Spirit Of Vintage Road Racing To Downtown Los Angeles

La Carretera Brings The Spirit Of Vintage Road Racing To Downtown Los Angeles

By Patrick Stevenson
March 27, 2018

Photography by Patrick Stevenson

Car shows happen every week around the world and seemingly every day in Los Angeles, so how do you make an event that involves a parking lot full of cars interesting rather than repetitive? Selecting a theme both for the cars on display and the attire is a great starting point it seems; successful shows like the Goodwood Revival and on a smaller scale, Radwood, have mastered that game. But what if you want to start something new? Finding a theme that fits Southern California and offers variety while still being cool is a serious challenge. Enter the La Carretera Show.

La Carretera translates from Spanish to “The Highway.” Organizer and event founder Dorian Valenzuela chose a killer motif: the spirit of the 1950s La Carrera Panamericana in Mexico, and the event would feature cars from the ’50s as well as the ’60s and ’70s on the more “modern” end.

For a first-time show or otherwise, the curation of cars was incredible; parked at the front gate was a stunning Lamborghini Miura in blue parked across from Valenzuela’s personal pastel blue Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan. Past the Alfa was a row of trucks and off-roaders, from showroom-stock ’60s Ford Broncos and F100s to a Baja Bug. The mix of cars in row two was even more diverse. Starting with Rod Emory’s 356 Outlaw, which came complete with a rad trailer setup hauling two period 125cc dirt bikes. Next to it were two Porsches modified by Singer, and behind those was a V12 Jaguar E-Type roadsters. Beyond the big cat was a couple of ’32 Ford hot rods with some crazy custom paint jobs and period cheater drag slicks. Also in the same row was a “Kenmeri” Nissan Skyline fastback imported from Japan. Next to the Nissan was a Porsche 911 painted in an unabashedly ‘70s-era shade of gold. Tying up the end of the row was a couple of super clean Alfa Romeo sedans and a mint Mercedes 300 SEL. Have I mentioned the variety yet?

Among the amazing street cars were a few choice vintage race cars too. Sitting loud and proud in front of a graffiti mural was a original Emory Motorsports 356 race car with a chopped roof and single hump roll hoop aero piece. Next to it was a wide-body Alfa Romeo GTA race car. In the row in front of them sat a well patina’d and roofless Alfa Romeo with a single roll hoop looking very much like it was plucked from La Carrera Panamericana in the period. Across from the race cars was a little pocket of joy, literally. A collection of tiny cars, from original Mini Coopers to CVCC-equipped Hondas were gathered in the kids corner. Filling out the rest of that space was a larger gathering of vintage motorcycles. Pristine showroom-stock bikes sat next to ’60s Harleys and choppers and cafe racers alike. The bass boat glitter paint jobs on these bikes didn’t need help getting noticed, and the midday sun made them a bit blinding at the right angle.

Besides the pleasant weather, the venue lent the perfect atmosphere for taking in all the cars and bikes on display. Held at Pearl’s BBQ in the art’s district of downtown Los Angeles, Pearl’s is kind of a pop-up style place, serving BBQ out a vintage airstream trailer under an open-air rustic structure covered in corrugated steel. The food was delicious despite the insane line, and the DJ was playing a great mix of music from the ‘50s-‘70s throughout the day.

In all, La Carretera Show was a complete success, an endearing and impressive gathering of cars and people that is an example of a how to put on a quality show, but it was also all done to help a very good cause; all of the shows profits were donated directly to Para Los Ninos, a charity helping the neediest children in Los Angeles. If you’d like to find out more about what they do and how you can help, please visit www.paralosninos.org.

For a first time show to feel like an established one, I’d say Dorian Valenzuela did an excellent job putting this one together, and I can’t wait to see what it becomes.

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4 years ago

Just for the record, there were no CVCC equipped Honda’s at the show. Those were Honda 600’s. One was a 1971 N600 model and the other a 1971 Z600.

Jonathan WC Mills
Jonathan WC Mills
5 years ago

I really enjoyed the collegial vibe of this event. It was really fun and unique and I’m grateful for Dorian to have put it together, it couldn’t have been easy…and to echo the article, I have to say that the two cars Rod Emory brought (built 17 years apart I think) were SO special. All in all, a sweet day!

5 years ago

Thanks Patrick!
I’d love to plan a trip to LA with this show in mind. What an awesome, eclectic bunch of rides. If I had to pick a favorite it’d be the 356 outlaw pulling the trailer. My only slight criticism would be calling the bikes on the trailer just “125 dirt bikes. Those are Honda Elsinores, among the best, most influential motocross bikes ever made and, in my opinion, the best looking! For more great vintage MX stuff check out this website mxworksbike.com. I think this guy’s collection would be worth a Petrolicious feature.