Gearhead, creator, builder, actor, and all-around badass woman, Emelia Hartford has proven time and again that it is not a man’s world.
Inspiring young women in all that she does, Emelia has made a name for herself in both the car world and acting world.
Her impressive resume includes over 800k YouTube subscribers, a racing world record, a successful company, acting on Netflix, and racing and building cars, just to name a few.
I had the immense pleasure of chatting with Emelia recently about all things cars.
Check out the interview below!
Gabrielle Bisaccia: How’s the new puppy liking shop life?
Emelia Hartford: She is loving it! It is crazy to watch her grow and mature so quickly. I like to have dogs that are comfortable going anywhere and are well trained, so I’ve been trying to get her as comfortable as possible around cars and people. So far it has been great!
GB: What or who fueled your passion for cars?
EH: I get this question all the time. It wasn’t because of a father or a boyfriend really. I’ve always been a thrill seeker and after getting behind the wheel at 16, it was on. I also had a life event happen at 15, which forced my family to uproot and move to Indiana. Right as that happened, I was searching for my first car. The internet said I needed something RWD and manual, so I decided on a 2005 Infiniti G35. I then found a car family in Indiana that took me under their wing and taught me the ropes. So, in a way, I’d say the internet and the Bloomington Car Community. Shoutout B-Crew!
GB: Who taught you how to fix and race cars?
EH: I want to say I am self-motivated. But I’ve mentored under friends and nice people in the industry. I mention B-Crew in Indiana. I learned a ton from them. Especially my good friend Booch. I also spent way too much time on forums, usually not learning very much. I want to say my knowledge really took off once I started heavily building and modifying my own cars. There is no better way to learn than to buy a project car, be hands on, and try to make everything work. I still today learn a ton from my own team and every build creates new challenges. There really is endless knowledge to be acquired building cars. Everyone is different.
GB: Which car that you own is your favorite?
EH: I don’t think I can answer that. That is like asking your favorite child. I love them all and they all have their own purpose. But if you promise not to tell, I’m definitely keen on my 2020 C8 Corvette.
GB: What was it like breaking a record in your Corvette?
EH: Massive long winded adrenaline rush. It was such a challenge and exhilarating. Both in the shop doing RnD to make everything worked and then going to the racetrack and fighting through challenge after challenge to get it right. Not to mention the car does a 1.3 sec 60ft which is a pretty insane feeling to experience. It’s almost like being shot out of a rocket.
GB: You own your own business, one of only 2% of female owned businesses that broke $1 million in revenue, and you donate heavily to several mental health charities. Why is this cause so important to you?
EH: I lost my father to suicide when I was a teen. I also have personally suffered from mental health my whole life and have seen so many loved ones go through the same issues. I just feel like it is something we all deal with in some way or another and yet there is this stigma associated with it and it is typically not addressed. I guess that is what makes it near and dear to my heart. I also like to believe that mental health is treatable and avoidable so I am pushing very hard to spread the word and help anyone and everyone I can. My goal is to make getting mental health care as readily available as any gym membership.
GB: What’s it like shaking up a mostly male dominated field?
EH: I honestly just do me and try not to put too much emphasis on gender. I think that is where some of my success stems from. I like to see us all as equals and compete (or more commonly work together) on the same level. I think women are disadvantaged from the pre-existing stereotypes within the industry, but I also see those molds being broken with the help of social media normalizing women in the industry. All in all, I surround myself with a good group of people and I plan to just keep going and hope to motivate and inspire more women to do the same.
GB: What’s one illusive car you still want?
EH: I’m very vocal about one day owning an F40.
GB: What’s your favorite action movie centered on cars?
EH: Fast and Furious or Born to Race, of course! I think it inspired my entire generation.
GB: You’ve acted in Netflix’s A California Christmas: City Lights as well as Fastest Car. What made you want to pursue acting?
EH: I’ve wanted to pursue acting my entire life. Even when I got into making content with cars, it was a reach at doing more in front of the camera any way I could. My ultimate goal is to star in action films with the foundation of cars and racing to drive my movies and connect my fanbase.
GB: Who’s your favorite female action star?
EH: Funny enough, as much as I love action, I really aspire and look up to female actors who are just on another planet with their acting skills regardless of action or not. I would have to say Meryl Streep is a huge inspiration. Halle Berry is another one. I also looked up to Angelina Jolie doing films like Tomb Raider.
GB What’s next for you?
EH: I always feel like I am not doing enough, but that is what keeps me going! I have another movie that we’re wrapping up filming right now that will be coming out later this year. I am just finishing up two pretty crazy car builds right now as well. One is a Japanese wide-bodied Ferrari 458, and the other is a pretty insane Mustang. I have some wild goals for me and my team in terms of building and driving beyond that. And probably most importantly of all, I have a couple projects in the works aimed at connecting my passion for cars and making movies!