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Student Interviews

Doug

Well-Known Member
Note: We thought it would be a cool feature to do student interviews on a regular basis. So here is the first installment of our new student interview section.

Damon Sandoval lives on the Morongo Indian Reservation in CA. He, along with three of his cousins and two of his good friends from the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation all joined the Wizard Schools of Fabrication at the same time and are on the same team. They started in February 2006 at the Riverside facility and as you can see in the photo, their car is almost complete. Details on the car include a mid-engine four-seat layout, with long-travel A-arms front and rear. Like most cars built by students, the team came up with the looks of the car on their own, with some design ideas thrown in by the instructors.

So we pulled Damon aside at the beginning of class recently to get his thoughts on the Wizard School. When asked if he had any prior experience before taking this course he replied, “No, none at all. It was all new to me.” He continued by saying, “It was pretty easy to pick up. There are great guys teaching and they show you everything.” Damon commented that since he had no prior experience everything he learned was equally new, however he was most impressed at learning how to design suspension with proper geometry. Asked for his overall impression of his experience at Wizard Schools, Damon commented, “The school is great, with a really good atmosphere. I liked it so much that I have already signed up for the SCORE Trophy Truck 101 class that I will be taking with my cousins once we finish this first class.” In closing Damon explained that he and his cousins like fabricating so much now that they will be opening their own shop. “We already have a building, just need to come up with a name.”

Right on guys, and welcome to the world of fabricating.
 

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Doug

Well-Known Member
Las Vegas resident Mark Cole is probably not what most people think of as the typical Wizard Schools of Fabrication student. Why? Because a lot of people assume only younger people take our course. The fact is we get students from all ages and all backgrounds. For example, Mark Cole has been welding for longer than some of the other students have been alive, 20 years to be exact. He also owns two businesses, Performance Muffler and Performance Rhino, both in Las Vegas. So what’s he doing at the Wizard Schools of Fabrication? Well besides the occasional wise-crack, he’s learning to fabricate. Mark realized that there’s a difference between being a welder and being a fabricator. He wanted to learn it all, especially chassis and suspension design and fabrication, to help further the products he could offer through Performance Rhino.

At the Las Vegas facility Mark is part of “Team Bling,” a six-man team that is building a chassis that will be a promotional buggy for the school, which will be finished by Wizard partner Craig Tiglia, who owns Vegas Steel. The car his team is building is all 2-inch polished stainless steel tubing, which no doubt will be extremely stout and bitchen looking when it is finished. It’s going to be powered by a Big Block Chevy, so you know it’s going to be sweet. Mark says that so far they have the lower and midrails finished, and most of the side lacing done as well. They’re getting ready to work on the top cage, which Mark is looking forward to as he said, “Doing the compound notches in the lacing was really tough. It took a while to learn to get them to fit perfect, but I finally got it down.” When asked about his overall impression of the school, Mark simply said, “I’m there to learn. It’s good having John The Wizard instructing us on why everything is done a certain way, and he expects us to be perfect.” He also mentioned, “We have great tools to work with at the school, which makes it easier to learn.”

Aside from work and school, Mark likes to get out and play when he can. He owns an ‘89 Jeep Cherokee rock-crawler, two Yamaha Rhinos, and a few dirt bikes. His favorite off-roading areas are Logandale Trails in Nevada and California’s Dumont Sand Dunes. Like a lot of people, he seems to have got bitten by the Rhino bug, and we’re quite sure his Rhinos will be customized to the max in no time. And now he can fabricate anything he wants on his own, which is what Wizard Schools is all about.

In the picture below, that's Mark in the middle, along with team members Joe Thompson, left, and Nick Bachman, right.
 

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Doug

Well-Known Member
Ben Ramsaran, age 22, is a current student at the Riverside, CA Wizard Schools of Fabrication. Ben’s story starts out a lot different than most, in that he had knee surgery the day before his first night of class. Ouch! He tells us the first six weeks of class were really rough because of the healing knee, but he toughed it out and said that the other team members helped him get though it.

Ben is on the same team as the man well-known to the off-road community simply as “Klaus,” who is the owner of Race-Dezert.com. The team is building a full-blown prerunner truck that is based off of an extra-cab Mazda (the same basic truck as a Ford Ranger, and it will look like a Ranger when finished). The truck features a full tube cage front to rear, three-link rear suspension and I-beam front suspension. Once finished Klaus will use this truck to prerun off-road races and get to photo locations during races.

Like every class at Wizard Schools, the students start off with welding. Ben said he picked up on MIG welding pretty quick, but the TIG welding for him took a while to get the hang of. That’s pretty normal, as TIG welding is much more difficult to learn. Ben now has his own TIG welder at home because as he put it, “You can’t have too much practice with TIG welding.”

After the welding portion and the tube bending and notching training, the team got started on the truck’s cage, beginning inside the cab. Ben explained the one of the coolest things he liked in the way the class is instructed was, “There are many different ways to do something, they show you all of them and let you decide what works best for you.” On the overall experience of learning to fabricate, Ben admitted, “I didn’t think it was going to be nearly as difficult to fabricate something as it is. I was amazed at how time consuming fabrication can be. Now I understand why off-road frames cost as much as they do.” But he added, “The instructors show you so many little tricks and tips that make fabrication much easier. I’m totally confident that I can fabricate on my own now and look forward to turning my own Ranger into a prerunner.”

Ben went on to explain that Wizard Instructor Danny Porter sat them down for a suspension class, explaining the different designs, geometry, and how to build suspension. Danny also helped show the team how to figure out where to properly place shock mounts and how to fabricate them. Ben says that now he plans to do his own suspension modifications on his Ranger rather than just buy a kit that is on the market.

Commenting on the Riverside Wizard Schools facility, Ben said “I like how it is set up so we each have our own bay to work in, and it’s pretty well organized.”

Ben grew up riding and racing dirt bikes, including competing in the Mini Nationals. Now he says he looks forward to off-roading his Ranger once he is done modifying it fully. Hey Ben, make sure you send us pictures of that Ranger once it is done!
 

Doug

Well-Known Member
Las Vegas resident Deano Martinez came to Wizard Schools of Fabrication to learn the skills he had previously paid others to do. As co-owner of Scorpion Motorsports with business partner Derek Morrow, Deano was already a part of the off-road industry, but he wanted to go further. Instead of just buying frames from someone else and assembling them, Deano had the goal of being able to build his own chassis and suspension combos. Now that he is almost finished with the course, his goal is within reach. Deano told us, “We’re going to build an over-the-top front-engine truggy as our shop car that is so killer people will recognize our shop as being able to build anything they want.” But this won’t just be any old shop car, Deano’s goal is to finish it in time to race it in the next SCORE Baja 500. A lofty goal for sure, but you can hear the confidence in his voice when he talks about building it.

For Deano Wizard Schools was an eye opener to the world of fabrication. He explained, “I had a little bit of fabrication experience before but everything took twice as long and was way more difficult. With Wizard’s instruction I was taught the tricks and skills to do it right the first time and be much more efficient with my time.” His team at the school is building a polished stainless steel long-travel buggy out of 2” tubing. Deano talked about the car the team is building, “This is the most beautiful chassis I have ever seen. The tube alignment is awesome and the lines are all perfect. That’s the way I’m going to build everything I do from now on… perfect.”

Currently Deano has a rock-crawler and a sandrail and he goes off-roading in the hills outside Vegas as well as the dunes at Dumont in California. But he’s really looking forward to the truggy that is in the works. He tells us it’s going to have a fuel-injected big-block Chevy, race-prepped Powerglide, and a fully done-up Ford 9-inch rear end. Of course with long-travel A-arms up front and a Trophy Truck-style four-link in the rear. And the cool part about a truggy is he can race it, prerun it, or just go play in the dunes. Hey Deano, make sure you send us pictures when that killer truggy is finished!
 
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