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By Jeff Pack
Writer 

Former Fallbrookian and his Impala win Hot Wheels Legends tour event

 

Last updated 5/28/2019 at 5:51am

Courtesy of Freddy Quintero

Former Fallbrook resident Alfredo 'Freddy' Quintero and his custom 1975 Chevrolet Impala recently won the 2019 Hot Wheels Legends Tour stop in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alfredo "Freddy" Quintero will tell you straight up – he needed to make a change in his life – a big change.

Growing up in Fallbrook, Quintero found trouble the way a lot of youngsters with difficult upbringings find it – too much time on their hands and not enough money in the family to pay to keep them busy.

His father picked avocados and his mother packed them for more than 30 years and Quintero said times were tough.

"We had very limited income, so they couldn't put us into sports or anything like that," Quintero said.

Quintero readily admitted he was always in trouble. He didn't make it through his freshman year at Fallbrook High and was sent to Job Corps as a sophomore. Though he graduated from the school in Imperial Beach, trouble continued to be a big part of his life for many years.

But it was a life-changing jail sentence that helped him realize that he needed to change.

"I had too much at stake, but I just couldn't release myself from that lifestyle," Quintero said. "It gave me a little eye opening to say, 'Hey, you know what? What are you doing? This is the end of it, it's over. If you don't beat this case it's over, it's done.'

"It was in (jail) that I joined the jail ministry, and I met a guy that had similar to the same background as me – drug addiction and so forth – so, I started to listen to him and I would go to those classes. I said that's it, if I ever get out, I'm turning my life around ... and I did just that," Quintero said.

Along with the help of his friends, his mentors and his wife and children, Quintero got his life in order. Then he mentioned to his wife his dream about the car that he's had since he was a teenager.

"She said, 'OK, well then, let's just build this car," he said.

Nine years ago he purchased the same model of car with which he learned to drive and was built the year he was born – a 1975 Chevy Impala.

"It was pretty cool to be able to find the car," Quintero said. "I bought it in an original type of shape. I just took it and redid what you see now.

"Work, her and the kids, and the car took so much more of my time and my focus that I didn't have to so much feel the temptation of the drug addiction. It kept me so occupied it was ridiculous," he said.

The commitment and hard work paid off.

Now living in Canton, Georgia, Quintero and his custom Impala won the top prize at the 2019 Hot Wheels Legends Tour in Atlanta, Georgia, which means he will compete in November at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

"Basically, they celebrated 50 years for Hot Wheels, and they started a tour," Quintero said. "I didn't make it last year, but they did so good last year, they decided to do it again this year. I presented my car with hundreds of other cars and that day I was picked as the winner.

"It's unexplainable, really. I stepped outside of my comfort zone to go ahead and compete with cars that are very unique. Took a chance and got the win. I feel absolutely blessed," he said.

In Las Vegas, he and his car will compete against 18 other tour stop winners with the chance to be chosen as the car that will be made into a die-cast replica by Hot Wheels.

"Hot Wheels is like a household item. I mean everybody's had one," Quintero said. "Just to think of them making a car like mine – it's mind-blowing. Later on, my kids, my kids' kids, and so on can play with it."

Quintero said Hot Wheels will transport his car and fly him out to Las Vegas for the show, which is one of the biggest in the world.

Saul Echeverria of the GROUPE car club was the one that reached out to the Village News for this story.

"He's super excited about this whole thing," Quintero said. "He said, 'Dude, you just like broke a barrier that went above and beyond just the lowrider community.'"

As excited as Quintero is about the SEMA Show, he's also excited to share his story with kids just like him back in Fallbrook.

"Growing up in Fallbrook ... it's a small town," he said. "We did a lot of outside playing around, but we got into some stuff just because we were bored. I would definitely say stay focused, some kind of hobby, a sport that takes up their time. Building a car would be a much more appealing alternative to the streets – writing on the walls or doing drugs or anything like that."

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.

 

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