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DI 30 Under 30 2023: Chloe Hudson

At 16 years of age, Chloe Hudson thought she knew exactly where her life was going. Ambitious, intelligent, and unafraid to dive into the deepest waters of education and hard work, Hudson planned to be a plastic surgeon. She never dreamed that her chosen field simply wouldn’t be the right fit, nor that she would instead find tremendous satisfaction through a career in high-level precision welding. 

That’s the happy detour that the South Carolina native eventually found, though, and it led her to become a respected and masterful welder behind a torch at Joe Gibbs Racing/Joe Gibbs Aerospace. She’s also the clever content creator behind much of multi-time Funny Car champion Matt Hagan’s social media on race weekends, and her out-of-the-box, imaginative posts have brought a new, fresh perspective to top-tier drag racing on Instagram.

[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #185, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in Nov/Dec of 2023.]

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Hudson initially picked up welding at the age of 16 when she took it as a high school elective, and although it did not initially deter her from her chosen path to the medical field, it served a certain purpose.

“I had a fascination with Jeeps, World War II, historical steel-bodied things,” she says. “That stuff really piqued my interest, but I was too poor to afford aftermarket parts. When you have friends in that world, you get a taste of what you can buy – but if you can’t buy it, you get a taste for what you can make.”

Later, while working in nuclear maintenance at a power station in South Carolina to pay her way through school, Hudson realized that the craft of welding could actually be quite lucrative. After getting some hands-on experience in the medical field and realizing that her initial dream wasn’t her true passion, she shifted gears and leaned into gaining a proper education in welding. Hudson received a valuable scholarship through the Mike Rowe Works Foundation for one semester, and she worked to put herself through the remainder of school. Along the way, she received a category award in the esteemed SkillsUSA competition and began to garner respect in the field. 

“In the process, I ended up really falling in love with it,” she says. “I loved TIG welding from the start, and all I wanted to do was high-level precision TIG work. From there, I built dry cask storage containers for spent nuclear fuel, then I went to hydroelectric turbine unit shutdowns and refurbishment, then on to aerospace and motorsports. I’ve hit all my major industries across the board.”

At the racetrack, her reputation as an expert welder has spread through the pits, and Hudson has been called on regularly for emergencies that demand efficient precision. Although it isn’t an official role, she’s eager to help and is honored that her proven skills with a welding torch have made her a hot commodity. She’s welded the flange onto a turbo housing for Comp champion Bruno Massel, worked on wheelie bars for Elite Motorsports, fixed headers on a Pro Stock car, and repaired the exhaust hanger on Matt Smith’s Pro Stock Motorcycle before his championship round in 2022. 

“I secretly think they know I love it so much I’d do it for free,” she jokes. “But really, it speaks to them trusting me. Before the semifinals or finals, I’ve been called on to fix things in a quick turnaround time, and they’ve trusted me for my work. [These teams] have been 100% all-in, and that’s been the biggest compliment.”

Hudson has done extensive work with companies such as Lincoln Electric and TMS Titanium, including building wing supports for every car in the SRX Series, and she’s done work in F1, as well as the NASCAR xfinity, Truck, and Cup series. 

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“I’ve hit a pinnacle in my career, and I love it,” she says. “I’m satisfied, and if nothing changes for me in 10 years, I’m good. I always feel guilty if I ever say I’m tired, because I have such an amazing life. I don’t care that it’s seven days a week – look what I get to do.”

This story was originally published on January 25, 2024. Drag Illustrated


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