Author: Ann Woodward
Back in November of 2016, I entered the Ladies Welding Contest through the Ladies Offroad Network and placed 2nd. After the live broadcast, I signed up for the Ladies Offroad Garage in July of 2017. I waited patiently as each month passed, waiting for the chance to meet Charlene Bower and learn at the famous The Fab School in California. I passed time by practicing my MIG welding skills and brushing up on technical terms to prepare for the trip. I had no idea what to expect, which is typical of a Charlene Bower event, and I had no idea what sort of skill level I would need, so I wanted to be ready for anything. I was worried that I wouldn’t have whatever knowledge was needed for whatever it was we would be doing during the Garage event.
The week before the trip, Charlene called to inform us that there were not enough people registered to follow the original plan of being at The Fab School for 3 days. My tickets were purchased, so there was no backing out for me, plus I was still eager for the opportunity to meet Charlene. Though I was initially disappointed that the event was being changed, Charlene went above and beyond expectations! I will be sure to never doubt her plans or commitment to us ladies.
I arrived after a nervous flight and was picked up by Charlene in the famous Frankie, the BFGoodrich Tires Jeep. I am used to lifted Jeeps, but I actually struggled to climb in Frankie, but by the end of the event, I was definitely a pro! Once everyone was picked up from the airport, we headed to the rental house for a week in California! I was all the way across the country from my home in New York, and definitely out of my comfort zone. We had a relaxing night, went grocery shopping, and it was off to The Fab School the next morning.
I was very excited when we arrived at The Fab School. Our first task was forging a bowl from aluminum. I was doubtful of my skills and my ability to accomplish the task. However, I decided to put my best foot forward and went after it. At the area we met Jake, one of the awesome instructors. He put a 12x12 sheet of aluminum in front of us and walked us through the steps needed to complete the task. We all absorbed every bit of information; tracing, cutting, sanding, heating, banging and smoothing out the aluminum. We were all proud of our accomplishment!
Then it was on to TIG welding with Angel, the master of dropping dimes. We were tasked to make a puddle of melted steel and tap the rod on the puddle. It was a little challenging at first, but we picked it up really fast. The instructors were all so patient and helpful. Then we left for dinner with Britney, and it was back to the house for a good night’s sleep!
The next day’s adventures included a shop tour at Raceline Wheels. Greg Mulkey was our guide for the day and full of information. We eagerly learned how everything was made. Aluminum, steel, forged, cast, and so many variations: 14” all the way up to 26” wheels. It was very cool! Greg was a great guide and took the time to sit down with us and answer questions before we started our live video.
Then, we got the opportunity to meet Jessi Combs! I have been a fan of hers for years! Charlene Bower really stopped all my doubts that she wouldn’t come through in a big way! I think this just made my whole weekend, and how could Charlene possibly top this opportunity to weld with Jessi Combs? Anyone that has been around automotive knows who she is, or should. I couldn’t act myself because I was just floored at this opportunity! By the way, if anyone is wondering, Jessi is very kind and happy to help anyone willing to learn.
Currie Enterprises was next on the list and, to be honest, I wasn’t too familiar with this company, however when I walked in and seen all the awesome axles I was ready to listen carefully! There were axles, parts to make axles, and machines to make anything you want. Great experience, and couldn’t help but be amazed by how my day was going.
LGE & CTS Motorsports is all that I really requested from Charlene. I wanted some California style! Paint with metal flake, gold leaf, custom designs, air ride, and hydraulics. There were so many cool vehicles in their shop, which is run by ladies. They had two full functioning paint booths with a mixing room with wild colors. Sara and Theresa had so many answers for a fellow lady in the automotive industry. I learned a great deal about organizing, employment, products, and quality control. They are still reaching out to help us learn. I have plans on doing more pinstriping after they spent time showing us the basics. At the end of the shop tours, we had dinner with Sara and Theresa who were happy to talk about their experiences as ladies in the automotive industry.
We got to take Sunday "off". We went all over Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach and drove through many other beautiful areas. It was an experience I will never forget. I’m so glad I didn’t give up after that initial phone call. Charlene really went out of her way to make it the best experience possible. She has a great vision for the future of ladies in offroad and I appreciate her commitment to all of us.
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See all the action from the 2017 Ladies Offroad Garage!
Kick-Off Dinner - http://bit.ly/2uuUlXa
Day 1 - The FAB School 1: http://bit.ly/2v4r1GA
Day 1 - The FAB School 2: http://bit.ly/2v4rs3p
Day 1 - Photos: http://bit.ly/2sXGtYq
Day 2 - Raceline Wheels Shop Tour: http://bit.ly/2tGWQpe
Day 2 - Jessi Combs Shop Tour: http://bit.ly/2uaR1n1
Day 2 - Currie Enterprises Shop Tour: http://bit.ly/2sXGL1y
Day 2 - LGE-CTS Motorsports Shop Tour: http://bit.ly/2sXSWv3
Day 2 - Photos: http://bit.ly/2ub2fIw
Day 3 - Recovery: http://bit.ly/2tGN5r8
Day 3 - sPOD & Premier Power Welder: http://bit.ly/2sIH4cr
Day 3 - Photos: http://bit.ly/2uJz3Fg
Day 4 - Hollywood: http://bit.ly/2tH6F6S
Day 4 - Venice Beach: http://bit.ly/2t6kytf
Day 4 - Photos: http://bit.ly/2sICmeI
Full Coverage: ladiesoffroadgarage.com/event-coverage
Author: Ann Woodward