Some amateurs just stay amateurs for ever -FTC homie Ben Sanchez was just that, and pretty content with it, he swears today. What did the afterlife have in stock for “Henrey Sanchez’ brother,” as people used to mistakenly call him at demos? Brake pads! Here’s a longer version of the interview with the coolest mechanic on erf, as a Holiday season treat lifted from “FTC” –the FTC book
Seb Carayol: When did you become a car mechanic?
Ben Sanchez: Man, probably a little bit after I stopped skating, which was about maybe 1996, 1997. I mean I bought a car in 1994, 1995 I think. I bought my boy’s old ’85 Honda Accord. Little rice rocket all tricked out. He had it all done, lowered, rims. I pretty much re-lowered it, changed wheels a couple times, did brakes. That got me into it as a hobby.
Did you learn all that stuff on your own?
At first, I had a homie show me, he taught me the ropes. And after that I was like, “man, what am I gonna do in life?” I needed something and skating at the time was so dead, you know what I mean? It wasn’t there.
I saw a commercial for a mechanic school. I liked working on cars, so why not. Next thing I know I was in that school program. At that time skating wasn’t my number one, super, super interest, plus I was going to school so much and working, that I kinda slipped over and next thing I know I didn’t have time for skating, and next thing you know that was it.
How long did you go to mechanic school for?
A year and a half. It was cool to learn a new trade on that tip. It’s funny because I never really had had a 9 to 5 job ever, I was just skating all the time. And what was part of it too is that I had a kid real early, in 1992, I was about to turn 18, so child support would want me to find a job. I’ve been at the same job for 13 years now. It was good cause it kept me responsible, you know what I’m saying, I mean I definitely didn’t want him to go through the things I’ve went through in life. We’re father-son but also good friends.
Did lots of people think you were Henry’s brother?
That was the number one question all the time, especially since we both were skating at Embarco, and on tour. Me and Henry are brothers from different mothers, that’s what we are.
He’s also doing car stuff too now, no?
Yeah, it looks like he’s painting cars or something. Lots of body work. Different aspect of the thing but what he does looks cool too.
What’s your specialty?
Just general repairs, it’s the main thing.
Before that, can you sum up your skate career?
Ron Allen put me on Life skateboards for a quick minute. From there it was no sponsors and riding Embarco every day, buying boards off all the guys who were sponsored already, like Jovontae, Carroll, Henry, Kelch, Edward Devera… Blind was the first real board sponsor I got, that was probably in 1994.
I was skating for them for maybe six months at the most, and Chocolate started. I stayed there until I quit, I never turned pro. I wanted to, but it probably wasn’t the right time, they needed to build up my name and stuff, but at the time I couldn’t hold out and be late on money, things started to change in my life. It was money over skating. And I was kinda losing the love for it, getting tired. It wasn’t motivating me anymore. Same shit, same tricks.
It almost sounds like you never took it so seriously and got sponsored without trying?
Nah! When I got sponsored, all I’d do is skate, religiously, day in day out. You had to work hard to be sponsored. I put it down for my team -but then at some point it started to drag. But Girl is like a family. When I left, Rick Howard hooked me up with a little go-away check.
Do your mechanic colleagues know you were a sponsored skater?
They always trip on it. They’re like, “Dude, you were hella skinny back then.” I’m like, “Damn, don’t remind me.” I showed them the Chocolate parts on Youtube, they think it was like it is now, they’re, like, “Why did you leave?’ I tell them it definitely wasn’t what it is now. Now it is blowing up beyond proportions again.