Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Old Van Clubs of Irvine Park

OCThen reader "TimS" who grew up in Santa Ana submits some memories of hanging out in Irvine Park during the 1970s with the van clubs, and wants to know if anyone else has similar memories...

Hi All.

I have spent most of my 49 years living in OC, and have really enjoyed some of these comments.

I was wondering if anybody remembers anything about the van clubs that used to have weekend night, or caravans, way in the back of Irvine Park back in the early to mid 70's?

I was sort of a wild wander as a kid (bad home life...), and at 12 or 13, I tagged along with someone, who owned a really tricked out Ford Econoline van, to a Van rally that I recall was way in the back of Irvine Park. It seemed to be a long ways out there, but as an adult, now it doesn't seem like Irvine park extends as far as I remember traveling. Do any of you remember this? The guy who let me tag along with him and his girlfriend was a long haired guy with the first name of Randy, and, at that time, worked at the gas station on the corner of Main and St. Gertrude Plc.
And then he goes on to talk about dealing with gangs and tough guys in the schools of Santa Ana...

I also wanted to comment to those who have posted about violence in OC HSs. I went to Saddleback and Mountain View HSs in the mid to latter half of the 70s, and there was some violence from blacks and Mexicans, and sometimes even the sportos. Having long blonde hair, and a smart mouth, I got my ass kicked more than once before I finally learned how to stare guys down and act like a bad ass so people would leave me alone. That didn't always work though because with the mexicans it was always a gang of at least 3 or 4 to 1, so you always ended up on the losing end. I can clearly remember being 14 and walking down Warner Ave from McFadden Jr High, and how I flipped off the 4 low riders who had just said something foul to me about being white and having blonde hair, and how these guys flipped a U turn in the middle of Warner and came after me. I ended up being thrown into a rose bush after they caught me, tore my books in half and pounded on me for a while.

Anyway, I took ROP at Valley HS, and had trouble with the blacks hanging out in the parking lot every time I went on the campus from the greenville entrance, and knew white guys from SA HS who were always fighting with Mexicans, so I always viewed both of those schools as being much worse than Saddleback, or even Mountain view, which was a continuation school. Nobody was ever shot at that time, but some guys got knifed, or seriously pounded on. However, there was one guy at saddleback that I will never forget. He was dark skinned, but I couldn't be sure if he was mexican or samoan. But he used to hang out with an entourage of mexican semi-toughs. This guy clearly knew martial arts at that time, and used to wear some strange flamboyant clothes, like a cape. I later realized he wore the loose baggy pants so he could kick really high. Anyway, I witnessed this kooky guy start, and finish, several fights with big guys that usually got left alone.

A lot of us hung out at Memorial Park, and saw first hand that we had a lot of Mexican gangs rising up including the Delhi boys, F-Troop, Shades of Brown, and others from north Santa Ana. Some of these guys were pretty hard core, in my view, and I think were early Mexican mafia.

What a childhood that was! That's why I joined the navy at 17, and got out of dodge as quickly as I could.

TimS from Woodland Plc, Santa Ana.
Click on "Post a Comment" below if you have anything to share...


  1. There was a van club called 'West Coast Vans' and a short, skinny long-haired guy named Randy was president. A friend of mine belonged to it and I would sometimes accompany him to meetings. Later it got weird when they started fighting with other clubs and gangs. I had quit going by that time. My friend ended up shooting some kid in a rival club or gang and killing him. He and his family moved away never to be heard from again.

  2. "I got my ass kicked more than once before I finally learned how to stare guys down and act like a bad ass so people would leave me alone. That didn't always work though because with the mexicans it was always a gang of at least 3 or 4 to 1, so you always ended up on the losing end."

    Their primary goal, with their gangs and bullying of white people such as yourself, was to create "white flight" from Santa Ana so they could take over the area, which they eventually did.

  3. Do you remember a red Dodge van with a h.b. pier as a mural on both sides, Owners name was Mike! about 1970-72

  4. Randy was president of West Coast Vans. They had a full on hierarchy like VP, Sargaent at Arms, etc. I was never a member but a friend of mine was and we'd go to their parties. It did get kind of weird at the end.

  5. South Coast Vans I meant.

  6. I meant South Coast Vans.

  7. West Coast Van Club 1975
    does anyone recall Rex Jenning with a van called
    Big Blue ??
    Looking for photos

  8. Also Big Blue was from San Gabriel 1975

  9. Shades of Brown was as a car club, not a gang, Knukle Head, that's why you got beat up Menso. That gas station was Powerine.

  10. I belonged the West Coast Van Club, Canyon Country, Calfornia. We NEVER had fights or anything like that, we did go on Van Runs for the week-end and joined other van club all over California, The runs were to collect money for various charities, Toys for Tots, Maarch of times, etc... They were good , safe events.

    I did not know wny of the other members of the OC west Coast van club. frm what I have read, glad I didn't know them

  11. There weren't any gangs or anything like that. it was all parting and bands. there was rivalry between clubs, but it was all good. we would get together and there would be no fights.

    B 300 74' went by the handle cross country otherwise known as CC

  12. If you guys are into Vans then Inland Vans Berdoo are the ones to see. Their the oldest Van club still going strong. They were the inavators of the van clubs in 1969 and still going strong today over 40 years now. They have their web-site at www.InlandVansBerdoo.com where you'll see 100's of photos from the 60's, 70's, 80's, and still today from teenagers to old men still doing what they do best "VANS". They were the only club ever inducted into the Hot Rod Cruzin Hall of Fame in 2008....other members include names like Carrol Shelby, The Beach Boys, Goodyear, Boyd Coddington, Chip Foosem, The Corvette, Route 66, Big Daddy Roth, Don Garlits, the G.T.O., American Grafitti movie, and about 25 others. Watch the Videos or look up their old phots of old vans and Van Happenings. Their still 70 members strong with vans from 1973 or older. Steve, at Buffaloportias@aol.com

  13. I was a Member of West Coast Vans (Whitter CA Chapter)circa 1977-1979. I went by the handle of "Sonny" I had a Bronze 72 B100 with a slant 6 and a 3 on the ree. We were not a "Gang" we were a Brotherhood, party and good times was what it was all about. I miss those folks lots of good people that taught me alot about giving back to your community.

  14. Well Steve has made a slight mistake if your into vans the only still functioning van club would be WHEELS of CONFUSION.And actually the original 69 van club was Assosiated Vans.I'll challenge anyone to try to hit a Inland Vans event this month or next month.We have an event on the 18th hit us up if ya wanna go on a van caravan should kick ass.http://m.youtube.com/index?desktop_uri=%2F&gl=US#/watch?v=vsA-Y7ZQcCU here's a video from the cruise we did awhile back check it out and come join us for the next one.Hit our website www.wheels- of-confusion.com if ya wanna join us at one of the many shows we hit each month.

  15. Or gimme a call if ya want anymore info BajaCharlie (714)357-8409

    1. How you doing Baja Charlie do you remember the van club called Ozone vans? if so i was in this club back in the 70s some guy that worked for Russ Davis Ford as a Machanic named Roger was the President,I had a REd Ford I think it was a 69 or 70 my hande was river rat.What alsome times we had!!!!

  16. Hi my name is wayne i think it was 1970, myself and two of my buddies we were living in el monte hooked up with some other van guys a total of 15 of us started west coast vans based in whittier ca. first started meeting at a park and then lock in a meeting location at a pizza parlor we ran with about 25 members for a long time then open membership thats when things started gettin crazy our van happenings got out of control by then our club was getting a bad reputation with the community and police. I'd had enough and bail out never stayed up with the club after that been a long time ago i'm 62 now still have my club jacket had a lot of fun with my quality member friends life was great

  17. My husband belonged to the Van Masters in South LA. There was one member named Kenny who was the President (I think) or one of the lead members who died tragically on a club outing at what was then called Puddingstone Reservoir in Pomona. I also remember that my husband took his van to be displayed at a show at the L.A. Sports Arena or one of those venues near downtown. His van was a 1970 Dodge Tradesman

  18. My pops was with Van Masters of South LA too. I was young during the years we went out on Van Runs but all I could remember is having so much fun and it also looked like the adults had a lot of fun..

    Don't remember any violence thought..

    Miss those days. From what I could remember, it was about the Vanning and having fun.

  19. my uncle Vinnie was a member of wheels of confusion back in the 70s and 80s I went to many shows and partys and yes I had my share of run ins with the tuff guys, that was part of the fun


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