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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Jun 20, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff



As LA Car is fond of mentioning, we like power. Autos cradling exotic motors that can reach two hundred miles per hour, yachts brimming with a thousand plus horsepower, auto industry leaders that move the direction of their enormous companies and the lives of so many, all catch our attention. It will be myopic for us not to notice the power of the people, those that make up the population of Los Angeles, California and beyond.

Rick Sarmiento - LBA CEO, and Maria Conchita Alonso - Actress

California's past is robust and diverse in culture. Of the numerous ethnic groups that make up and call this state their home, we might consider calling Latinos indigenous, given their extensive history in this region. Unless you haven't been reading a newspaper in the past few years, you also know they make the largest ethnic group in the region. While President Bush is out spending his political capital, Latinos are living the American dream, creating jobs and opportunities, raising families, and let's not forget purchasing cars.

The definition of power is the ability, skill, or capacity to do something, or physical force, or strength. This explanation works equally well with cars as it does with people. This one word nicely sums up the burgeoning Latin community in America. On this perfect summer evening in Bel-Air, the Latin Business Association is celebrating its 30 th anniversary and honors Mayor Villaraigosa, legendary film/television producer Moctesuma Esparza ( Selena , Milagro Beanfield War , Introducing Dorothy Dandridge ) and other distinguished luminaries. The annual LBA gala recognizes the achievements and significant contributions that support Latino businesses, the overall economic advancement of the Latino community in the United States and the outstanding achievements of leaders in the business, corporate, political and entertainment sectors.

Rick Sarmiento, LBA Chairman of the Board and CEO, isn't one to rest on the laurels of the association. Rick is looking beyond the current agenda. Stating, "LBA begins another journey, one of global thinking , and long term strategic growth" is evidence enough that this association is building on its momentum. The Latino business community has mass and influence, and a desire to properly utilize both. All of us expect to see good things come from this.

Capturing the essence of the evening is the moving speech given by our own Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. In a pointed and meaningful speech to the 600 plus guests, he thoughtfully details his background and how he and his family struggled and forged ahead, ultimately leading him to a central figure for the city and Latinos.

Regardless of how his policies are perceived, you have to respect this man for what he has accomplished in his lifetime. For that matter, we are drawn to all people who succeed, or at the very least put their best foot forward in whatever they do, day-in and day-out. He is the personification of The American Dream.

Similarly, cars that go the extra mile (no pun intended) are the ones that capture our attention. The power of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is a perfect example of how GM didn't rest complacently with the 400 horsepower standard issue Vette and created one of the most extreme sports cars in the 505 horsepower Z06. Volkswagen reached deep and created three icons of luxury and power, the Bentley Continental GT, the Flying Spur, and the GTC. And Toyota gets the praise of the people with the advancements in technology that powers the popular Prius sedan. Mercedes Benz doesn't offer just a few choices, they create models that will fit every possible lifestyle, and with the flair and distinction that the Mercedes brand is known for. As if that isn't enough, the AMG versions of these automobiles are above and beyond when it comes to muscle.

Maria Conchita Alonso - Actress

The gala does bring out the best from cars, to people, to location, to drinks and everything one associates with the good life in Los Angeles. Rolling up to the event is every manner of luxury ride with the preferred transport being limos. Limousines seem to go part and parcel with stars, and this night has its share. Best of all is being able to enjoy the celebration and leaving the responsibilities of driving to someone else.

Punctuating the evening's theme is actress Maria Conchita Alonso. Maria's extensive credits cover everything from playing along side Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Running Man to a recent part in Desperate Housewives . The list of her various roles go on and on, but what isn't listed in her bio is her sincerely warm and inviting nature. Actor Patrick Kilpatrick is another Hollywood notable supporting the evening's affair. He captures the spirit of the LBA by consistently forging ahead, immersing himself on new projects, pushing his abilities further each time. Perhaps his success is also due to his gregarious nature. Zee James is a young actress who also is making her rounds in spite of her busy schedule. Gloria Kisel of Telemundo's Kiss and Tell with Gloria Kisel (Besos and Rumores) never ceases to amaze me by both her outgoing nature and an encyclopedia-like knowledge of the entertainment industry based heavily on her first hand experience. Her program on Telemundo's Al Exito TV can be seen on Thursday afternoons . Gloria's outgoingness and enthusiasm at the gala is simply contagious.

Patrick Kilpatrick - Actor

While the celebrities are highly visible, all of those at the palatial mansion in Bel-Air have backgrounds that would make great material for a movie of the week. Tonight is a gathering of not just heavy hitters, but those that are looking to make a positive difference in their community, and that is powerful.

The location itself is a statement. Sitting just off of Sunset Boulevard is the stately grounds of Le Chateau Rose - an exact replica of the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's summer palace located in Versailles, France. The impressive residence sets the stage for the event that is hard to shrug off. The obligatory red carpet is out, but even without it the mansion gets the message across plenty well indeed.

The festivities also feature a silent auction benefiting Padres Contra el Cancer, an international menu by Wolfgang Puck, art from the Museum of Latin American Art and music by DomingoSiete. The gala also showcase six VIP amenity tents featuring Latin American themes corresponding to Latin countries (Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba and Peru) and designed by renowned local artists and designers such as HARS Design, Fernando Diaz & Associates, Judi Jordan and Xavier Alvarez.

Supporting the association are roughly sixty companies with Bank of America holding the top honor of being the Legacy Sponsor with a very generous donation. Contributing are some highly regarded substantial corporations, all the way down to smaller companies all willing to provide goods and services. Just a few of the companies listed as participating include: Toyota, The Walt Disney Company, Northrop Grumman, AT&T, Cingular Wireless (donating a Blackberry and a gift certificate), Vistage, Staples, La Opinion, Luxury Toys (donating a weekend rental of a Mercedes Benz S550), Mojito Island (providing exceptional cocktails), Hi Time Smoke Shack in Costa Mesa (providing cigars), Sage Automotive Group, Union Bank, The Los Angeles Athletic Club (donating a two night stay for two), The Beverly Hills Hotel (donating a brunch for two), and Cartier.

Zee James - Actress

LBA is tapping in and harnessing energy to produce outstanding achievements. The themes and enthusiasm I see this evening are somewhat familiar to me. I don't know, if it wasn't for this being a cultural association, I swear this will make one helluva car club!

Find more on the Latin Business Association at

Maria Conchita Alonso - Actress

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