By LP Hastings
By Michael Goldstein
By R. Scott Moxley
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Matt Coker
By Nick Schou
By Bethania Palma Markus
The first thing she did when she recovered was to beg her son to quit the Hells Angels. "I didn't want to quit," he recalls. "These were my friends, but she's my mother, man. If she had died in that hospital, I would have blown my brains out. I couldn't have lived with that on my conscience, her dying over me doing something stupid. So I did what I thought was right at the time."
* * *
Following the infamous Blackie's bar fight, Requejo pleaded guilty to one assault charge in return for probation, which is now just weeks from running out, at which point the charge will be expunged from his record. Nowadays, he divides his time between his two daughters, age 7 and 15; the bike shop; and racing the only sidecar bike with a Harley-Davidson engine in it at Costa Mesa Speedway on weekend nights. Not a day goes by when he doesn't regret killing another person or that he doesn't ponder the possibility of things working out differently. "What if I had my seatbelt on and I could have hit the gas before they pulled me out?" he asks. "What if I had locked my doors? The fate of that poor guy—I am never going to live that down. I took somebody's life. I'm going to have to answer to the man upstairs for that someday."
Nevertheless, Requejo is grateful for how well life is going now for both him and Coones. "It's a hard life we both have lived," he says. "At one part in both our lives, we had the great potential to be gone away forever, and I was thinking, 'I could never eat a steak or get a cup of coffee from Starbucks in the morning or lay down with a woman again.' Those things go through your mind."
Coones is also a busy man. Besides his work at the shop, he's often up halfway to dawn practicing with Attika7, who have played venues ranging from the Galaxy Concert Theatre and House of Blues in Anaheim to Irvine Lake. He was recently offered a principal role in a three-part film trilogy that has yet to be formally announced.
Thanks in part to his continued membership in the Hells Angels, police love to keep tabs on his movements. When Coones showed up for a Boys & Girls Club toy run in Santa Ana several weeks ago, police wouldn't let him ride with his club patch on. Coones refused to take it off as a matter of principle.
He doesn't complain about such incidents. "I'm just glad I'm where I'm at now and not having to go through the hard times I had," he says. "It's pretty exciting. We have a lot of things going on these days. We get to create art that rolls. Our work is fun; our play is fun. It's a good life."
Although it has been years since he was a member of the Hells Angels, Requejo says the police haven't forgotten about him, either. "I tell Rusty all the time, 'No matter how well we're doing in life, you always have one foot in the successful life and one foot in a prison cell somewhere,'" he says. "It's a balancing act. You have to put more weight on the good foot than the bad because it's easy to put more weight on the other foot and be gone. It's like you have a sidecar of doom."
Requejo is the first to admit he still has his "wild side." One Christmas Day a few years ago, he was eating brunch with his family at Costa Mesa's now-closed Omelette Parlor when he heard a familiar voice behind him. He walked around the corner and saw a table of police officers, including the one who had previously arrested him for carrying a knife. The cops stopped talking, and the one whose voice Requejo recognized walked up to him, facing him nose to nose.
"So I heard you quit," the cop said, referring to Requejo's resignation from the Hells Angels.
"Yeah, you heard right," Requejo responded.
"So you're done, huh?" the cop continued. "You quit. You're done?"
"Let me tell you something," Requejo answered. "I quit, but I'm not done. I'll never be done."
The cop walked back to his table, and Requejo rejoined his family.
This article appeared in print as "Hell Raisers: For Rusty Coones and Rodrigo Requejo of Illusion Motorsports, life has been one wild ride."
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