Friday, September 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Raider fan wears his heart on his truck

Alex Belmonte poses with "The Beast," his tribute to the Oakland Raiders. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | September 29, 2013 |

Alex Belmonte punches out after 10 1/2 hours of painting Toyotas and Hondas, making them look like their sensible selves again.

Inside the bathroom at Cook’s Collision II on Chiles Road, he tugs off his work boots and blue work shirt. He pulls on Oakland Raiders shoes, takes from a hanger a white football jersey emblazoned with safety Jack “The Assassin” Tatum’s black number 32.

Then, outside, Alex, who’s 52 with short black hair and gray in his mustache and goatee, turns the ignition on his 1999 GMC Sierra pickup.

Its engine sounds low and musical and menacing. Silver and black flames lick the white truck’s side.

With sunglasses perched on his nose, and a skull perched on his dashboard, Alex steers toward Woodland.

His daughter Lorena gave the truck its nickname: The Beast.

Its license plate: DA RDRZZ.

“Some of us represent being Raider fans harder than others,” Alex says. “It’s a fine line between fan and fanatic, and I think I’m teetering on that line.”

But The Beast represents far more than loyalty to his favorite team.

Back in the day

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, the second youngest of 10 children born to Emilio Belmonte, a farmworker, and his wife, Juanita, a homemaker, Alex came to Oakland at age 10.

The family lived in the rough Barrio 60s neighborhood. Alex played football in the streets — the kinds of games where a quarterback might tell his receiver to go long, then hook left at the green car.

Alex loved the violence of the game, the hitting. And he loved the Raiders.

Though his family didn’t have much money, he made it to most home games.

“I had my little hustle on. I had a paper route, did yard work and stuff — whatever I could. (Tickets) were cheaper back then.”

At 16, he started painting cars, making them into moving murals.

“Back in the day, when I got into it, I painted a lot of lowriders with the graphics and the bright colors and the candies and stuff. That was satisfying to be able to look at a car and say ‘I did that.’ ”

After graduating from Fremont High School, he enrolled at Heald Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in electronic engineering technology, then started on a bachelor’s before deciding that it wasn’t for him.

He got married. And he got out of Oakland — that’s how he describes it, off-hand, not so much as moving away from a hometown but as if he and most of his siblings escaped the neighborhood, one by one.

He took a job repairing Pac-Man, Q*Bert and other games at Chuck E. Cheese’s. He kept Chuck E., the mouse, Jasper T. Jowls, the dog, and other characters singing for pizza-eating kids.

In 1988, Alex and his wife, Yolanda, settled in Woodland, to be near her mother, the late Grace Sanchez. Along with Alex II, now 27, and Lorena, 25, the couple has a third child, Monica, 21, and a granddaughter, Angelica. She’s 7 — and “an avid Raider fan, as well,” Alex says.

Alex left behind beeping video games and Whac-a-Mole. He returned to painting cars.

A team effort

Alex bought his pickup used in 2002. He’d had a couple of lowriders before, sure; but for this truck, he visualized something more ambitious.

He set about transforming it with the help of his son, Alex II, friends and co-workers at Hayes Brothers Collision Repair in Woodland. They put maybe 350 to 400 man-hours into the project.

Most of the work was done for free. An auto paint rep donated about $3,000 worth of supplies. Alex traded labor, too, swapping his painting skills in trade for, say, a buddy doing body work.

On went a new exhaust system, cold-air intake, 20-inch rims. Off came the Sierra’s front end, replaced with that of a 2006 GMC Denali, and its tail lights, replaced with a pair salvaged from a 1999 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Door handles and fuel cover were shaved smooth.

Then, the painting: the Raiders’ shield logo on the hood, flames on the flanks and maybe 200 hours worth of airbrushing.

The tailgate features a pair of grim reapers. Between them, Death himself wears a Raider helmet. Swirling around him are ghoulish faces inside of helmets — ghosts of Raiders past.

Airbrushed onto the tonneau cover that fits over the truck’s bed is the team’s pirate, exposing a skull beneath the familiar face and eyepatch.

“He’s taking off the mask of a nice guy and revealing his true identify underneath,” Alex says.

The Beast was born.

Raider Nation

Driving to the Oakland Coliseum, that’s like going home again.

Amid the brats and burger smoke, not far from an inflated Darth Vader and a drum and bugle corps tuning up to play “The Autumn Wind,” the team’s unofficial battle hymn, rests The Beast.

Nearby, men pose for photos in spiked shoulder pads and face paint, looking like silver and black extras from a “Mad Max” movie.

Tailgaters pause and circle the truck, taking pictures and peppering Alex with questions.

This is more fun, Alex says, than the games themselves. Especially lately. Over the past decade, Raider Nation has suffered through eight losing seasons. The team is 1-2 this fall.

Alex misses the Super Bowl-winning teams of old, misses stars from the ’70s and early ’80s, men like Tatum, tight end Dave Casper, wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, cornerback Lester Hayes.

“Nowadays, you get turf toe and you’re out for a year, you know what I mean? Guys used to play with broken legs back then.”

Alex has never splurged on season tickets. It never made sense, what with Yolanda and him spending so many weekends driving The Beast as far away as Texas or Colorado so they could root on their children playing football, soccer, softball, basketball or cheerleading.

Their youngest, Monica, became the first Woodland girl to play Pop Warner football. She delivered hits from the safety position — like a little Jack Tatum.

“She was bad, dude,” Alex says.

He makes it to a handful of Oakland games each season, usually AFC West games against the hated Broncos or Chargers or Chiefs. In a throwback jersey and dangling Raider earring, he and Yolanda serve up ribs, links, carne asada.

Other fans may be strangers, but they’re also family.

“We welcome everybody to come and join us in the tailgating and partake of our food, anything we have to share,” Alex says. “(The truck) just draws more friends.”

Silver, not gold

Two years back, a friend in Woodland’s Aztecas Car Club nudged Alex to enter The Beast in a show.

“My truck’s not a show truck,” said Alex, who then, as now, drove it daily.

“Your truck is bad,” his friend said.

Alex has since entered his truck into six competitions, each time taking home a plaque for a top-three finish. His wins include one during the 35th anniversary Lowrider Magazine Tour and two at Streetlow Magazine events.

Most days, he parks The Beast outside Cook’s (formerly Davis Autobody), as he has for about eight years. He hangs up his Raider shirt of the day (“It’s not just for game day, bro.”), punches in at 7:30 a.m., then starts returning other people’s cars to normal.

His own truck has a dent on one side — he bumped Yolanda’s van — that he’s not had time to repair.

For all the admiring looks The Beast gets at the Coliseum, Alex has done little painting for other fans.

“Times are tight. Times are hard. And that’s expensive work.”

Not long ago, Alex did get approached about a custom job by his brother-in-law Frank Gonzales, who is a San Francisco 49ers fan, of all things.

When their teams used to face off on the gridiron, the pair sat together.

Now, though, here was Frank with a new truck — in Niner red.

“He asked me if I’d put some gold on it,” Alex says.

“I told him, ‘Not a chance.’ ”

— Reach Cory Golden at 530-747-8046 or cgolden@davisenterprise.net. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden.

Comments

comments

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

     
    School district may redevelop downtown site

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

     
    Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Scots vote to stay in UK

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    DUI suspected in crash

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

    Project Linus seeks donations

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Storyteller will draw on music, dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Free workout class set at library

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Register to vote by Oct. 20

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis maps available at Chamber office

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Reception benefits endangered gorillas

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Davis hosts its own climate change rally

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Qigong classes available for heart health

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Sick of being the bad guy

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Return to previous plan

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Save the ‘pine cone place’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Affirm our community values

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Project has safety risks

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Learn more about Paso Fino

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Educate homeless with dogs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

    By Our View | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Take Zona and Bama this week

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

    Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Real Estate Review

    Featured Listing

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

    Professional Services Directory

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

    Taylor Morrison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

    Malek Baroody

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

    Norcal Land

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

    Robin Garland

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Dana Hawkins

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

    Martha Bernauer

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Joe Kaplan

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Lynne Wegner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

    Remax

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

    Melrina A Maggiora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

    Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Julie Leonard

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

    Coldwell Banker

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

    Kim Eichorn

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

    Lyon Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

    Jamie Madison & Associates

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Marcelo Campos

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Julie Partain

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

    Juan Ramirez

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Kim Merrel Lamb

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Bob Bockwinkel

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

    Chris Snow

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    James Hanna

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

    Raul Zamora

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Susan von Geldern

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

    Travis Credit Union

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

    Karen Waggoner

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Jamie Madison

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

    Tracy Harris

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    Lisa Haass

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

    First Street Real Estate

    By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24