Talking Titanium with Chloe Hudson
TMS was lucky to catch up with Chloe Hudson, Joe Gibbs Racing welder and all-around bad ass when it comes to welding and fabricating with Titanium. She has had a hand in projects in just about every racing series and recently created some really cool wing supports for the second season of SRX Series. Here are her thoughts on how she got started, what inspires her and what she loves about working with TMS Titanium. Keep up with Chloe on Instagram @arcweldingangel
TMS: You have been fabricating and welding for quite a while, what do you enjoy most about this process?
Chloe Hudson: “I love the creative outlet it has been for me. The instant gratification of taking stock material and turning it into a part that a racecar needs to race is hugely satisfying."
TMS: You have produced parts for a variety of series, can you give us a quick rundown of the different race cars or series you have supplied pieces or parts for?
CH: “I have been working for Joe Gibbs Racing for the last three years. I have built or repaired parts for NASCAR Cup Series cars (11, 18, 19, 20, 23), NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Truck Series, Yamaha Motorcycles. I've repaired parts on TSR's Matt Hagan Dodge SRT Hellcat Funny Car, and now I can add the SRX Series to my resume."
TMS: The SRX Series is headed into the second season and you recently made some wing supports with TMS Titanium. Can you talk about how those came together?
CH: “It was a super fun project to work on. From design to fixture to finished product I got to work with Ryan at SRX and James at TMS Titanium to make a part everyone was happy with. Titanium is one of my favorite mediums to work with and anytime I get to work with TMS Titanium it's always a pleasure. They always get me all the material I needed quickly (which is saying a ton in today's world of broken supply chain) no matter what I'm building."
TMS: The TMS Titanium name is incorporated into the support, have you done anything like that before?
CH: “I haven't! Most of the parts I build are within the car and I very rarely get to build racecar parts that are so visible. It definitely cranks up the pressure a notch because you want them to be perfect. I really can't wait to see them in action. I've only had one other part visible and that was the grills we had to make for the NASCAR Cup Series cars when they were racing the dirt track at Bristol."
TMS: What are the challenges or tricks to working with Titanium?
CH: “Titanium is by far the trickiest metal to fabricate with and weld for me. The filler material has a tendency to stick to the base material which makes feeding wire difficult until you get the hang of it. You also have to pay very close attention to the way your material is purged and ensure that the weld zones are completely cloaked in argon. Titanium is also far less malleable and can't be manipulated as easily as other materials. But I thrive with a challenge and there is nothing better than a perfectly clean, colorless Titanium weld."
TMS: What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on racing or non-racing?
CH: “Doing the frame repair on a Funny Car between rounds was the coolest experience. That pressure and fast-paced work environment was a huge adrenaline rush. To have a driver and race team trust your work and abilities at a time like that was a compliment the likes of which I've never received before. Then to see that car make a 330 mph pass and my weld hold, man I was really proud of that."
“My favorite non-racing part I've built so far has to be the outrageous exhaust for my 1978 CJ5. TMS and Ticon Industries sent me everything I needed to make the most badass pie cut exhaust to ever get installed on a CJ5 period. I might be a little biased but if I ever sold that Jeep, I'm keeping the exhaust."
TMS: Welding and fabricating is a creative process. Where do you get your inspiration or have you always been a creative person?
CH: “My dad was an artist and he translated those skills into very practical applications whether it be woodworking or restorations. I think watching him create really fostered that in me from an early age. I've always loved working with my hands and when I realized being an artist probably wasn't going to pay the bills, I fell in love with welding and the outlet that welding gives me creatively and that has paid my bills ever since."
TMS: If you could make anything out of Titanium what would it be?
CH: “I think the next Titanium project would have to be a roll cage for my Jeep. After seeing how that exhaust turned out how could I not?"