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DI 30 Under 30 2023: Emilee Medeisis

Emilee Medeisis (formerly Ballard) is an up-and-coming driver and builder in the drag-and-drive scene. It’s an area that’s mainly dominated by men, but she doesn’t let that intimidate her. 

As a matter of fact, she wants to be a beacon of encouragement to show other women that they can do this as well.

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

“I definitely have a lot of room to grow,” Medeisis answers. “I think that as long as you have a good group of people by you that are willing to help you learn and grow with you, that’s key. I think that a lot of females need to dive in and not be scared.”

Medeisis was first introduced to drag racing through her dad but admitted that she wasn’t ready to start racing herself at first. 

“[My dad] actually wanted to put me in a Jr. Dragster, and when we went to go purchase it, I sat in it. We started it up,” recounts Medeisis. “I didn’t cry or get afraid of it. I just didn’t like it. I’m going to assume I was probably just feeling claustrophobic.” 

The experience didn’t deter her, though, from going to the track and helping her dad while he was competing. After her 2014 high school graduation, Medeisis’ dad surprised her with a 1968 Camaro that she still owns.

“I bracket raced with him for a couple of years, and then I met Cody, who was building his truck for Drag Week,” she explains, referring to her now husband, 2016 30 Under 30 honoree Cody Medeisis. “I went and spectated that, and I fell in love with that side of racing, more of the heads-up, the LS stuff, than just a regular bracket car.”

Cody saw her enthusiasm and put together a budget-friendly engine so Emilee could begin racing in the new-to-her style of competition. After two years of competing, in 2019, she and Cody rebuilt her car “from scratch,” and it’s evolved into what the 27-year-old is fielding today – an 8-second, supercharged 1968 Camaro.

“My husband did a lot of the bodywork, but I was at the shop every night with him, helping wherever I could, and I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of wet sanding,” she chuckles. “Now I realize how much time and energy goes into it, but it’s all a part of it. We have also built the engines in our garage here at home together.”

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Then, in 2022, right before HOT ROD Drag Week, she took the car out for testing and blew up the engine. So, back to the home garage she and Cody went to rebuild Labor Day weekend. “That was like a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me to be so hands-on with it and just a bonding moment for us,” she says.

After putting everything back together, Medeisis made Drag Week and finished fifth in her class with an 8.569 average. 

When she’s not on the road, Emilee is competing at her local track.

“What I’m doing now is a lot of heads-up, no-time racing. There’s actually a series, the Central Illinois Streetcar Shootout, that I ran this year, and they created a new class called the Blue Collar Street, and of the two events, we took home the win in both of those so that was very exciting to start the year off with,” Medeisis explains. 

She had planned on attending Drag Week this year; however, she opted to withdraw because of the timing of the event and her wedding, plus a delay on parts. Instead, Emilee entered the final Central Illinois Streetcar Shootout.

“We took the win home, and following that, we did the NHRA 8.60 exhibition [during the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway], which we also took the win home in,” she says. “This year is the first year that I’ve ever won an event, so to win every time we’ve gone out was just something that I can’t even begin to explain. To go from not winning an event to winning every event that you go to is just a really good feeling.”

Medeisis acknowledged that she wouldn’t have been afforded these opportunities if it weren’t for her support system around her.

“I want to say thank you to my husband for teaching me over the years this side of racing, my parents for not only introducing me to the sport but getting me into it, and to all of my sponsors,” says Medeisis. “My program is where it is today with the help of everybody, and I couldn’t do it without all of them.”

This story was originally published on February 19, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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