UNLTD Quote Off Road Racer Emme Halll Header

Racer Profiles: Emme Hall Powers Her Mint-Winning Miata with Grace…And Grit

Hailing from the sun-kissed lands of Southern California, Emme Hall’s story begins not on a pristine racetrack, but in the sandy expanse of the Glamis Dunes. She rode amidst those soft, sprawling mountains and the rugged terrain near Giant Rock, bouncing around in her dad’s buggy. Her affinity for off-roading was evident from the start.

It was there, amongst the towering dunes, that the seeds of a lifelong passion were sown. Even after a few tumbles from a Honda three-wheeler left her a little battered-and-bruised, it didn’t dampen her enthusiasm for dirt and speed. “It was always a family affair,” Emme recalls, reflecting on her introduction to the off-road community. Thanksgiving trips to Glamis, adventures down the Baja peninsula – these weren’t just vacations, they were traditions that instilled a love for the sport that runs deep in her veins. 

When her father began racing class 5-1600s in her high school years, the competitive spirit became contagious, albeit slow to overtake her. While Emme dabbled in other racing disciplines like autocross and track days, it was the thrill of off-road which truly captivated her soul. But the path to racing isn’t always straightforward. Reflecting upon her competitive career, Emme said:

“When I was growing up, even though I was around cars and events (and I liked it), I didn’t really see a lot of women who were participating. So, it never really occurred to me that I could compete just like the guys. Then my dad called me around 2009 to tell me there was a Powder Puff race in Barstow, and he had signed me up. At that point, I was already in my mid-30s! So, I figured why not? And I haven’t looked back since.”

Throughout her racing career, Ms. Hall found inspiration in figures like Emily Miller and Mark Naugle, who’ve provided unwavering support and guidance, both emotional and financial, along the way. Naugle, of Locos Mocos fame, is her go-to guy for mechanical know-how, always happy to answer questions, no matter how basic. 

She also draws inspiration from racing legend Rob MacCachren and trailblazer Judy Smith, Emme’s racing heroes reflect her own indomitable spirit. As a living legend, MacCachren’s dedication, work ethic and signature hairstyle (wink, wink) resonates with Emme. But her ultimate high-five goes to Judy Smith, a true badass who paved the way for women in off-road racing.

Pre-race jitters manifest in a different way for Emme. Forget playlists and motivational speeches. Her stomach just can’t handle it. Fueling her body with Diet Dr. Pepper and a granola bar, she prepares for each race with a mixture of nerves and excitement. However, she doesn’t underestimate the importance of physical fitness. While self-described as “inherently lazy,” she relies on her trainer, Sergio, to keep her on track (pun intended).

With accolades including two Rebelle Rally victories and a class win at the Mint 400, Emme’s racing career is a testament to her skill and determination. Yet, amidst the thrill of victory, she tries to remain humble, crediting her team for their support and ingenuity. “Buddy,” her trusty Mazda Miata, received a little magic in Ensenada before the race by a fabrication wizard named Galleta (aka “Cookie”). 

Advanced Engine Dynamix in Corona, CA is another key player, allowing her to learn from the experts while lending a hand in the shop. As she gears up for the next Unlimited Off-Road Racing event, Emme’s determination burns brighter than ever. Her racing philosophy is refreshingly simple: “…have fun, winning is great, losing is a learning experience, but a smile at the finish line is the true trophy.”

Her infectious enthusiasm is evident in her support of the ‘Gambler 500,’ a haven for competitors like herself who prioritize finishing in unorthodox automobiles over podiums in fancy cars. In the unforgiving desert landscape, with a car that wasn’t exactly built for off-roading, strategy reigns supreme. Staying cool, conserving energy, and keeping an eye out for potential problems are the hallmarks of her success.

The rough patches are inevitable, but Emme approaches them with humor. “It’s ‘Type 2 fun’,” she says. “Miserable in the moment, but unforgettable in hindsight.” Sometimes the only thing which helps her through is the sweet relief of a post-race bathroom break, she admitted. Emme’s racing career is undoubtedly an exemplification of her adventurous spirit.

She tackled navigational rallies, conquering the Rebelle Rally twice – once in a Jeep Wrangler and another time in an unlikely champion: a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Her resume also boasts participation in the inaugural EV program at the Rebelle Rally behind the wheel of a Rivian, and a stint racing alongside Tanner Foust in the all-electric Volkswagen ID4 at the NORRA. Morocco and Saudi Arabia have also felt the tread of her tires.

Her list of accolades is impressive, but her greatest victory to-date might be the Mint 400 class win, evidence to the fact that some grace, grit, and a trusty Miata can go a long way. This wasn’t her first rodeo – she secured the win the previous year as well. But with a legacy that spans continents and a spirit that knows no bounds, Emme Hall is a true trailblazer in the world of off-road racing. And she’s out to prove that anything is possible, with a little imagination… And a great fabricator.

Want to follow along Emme’s race efforts? Check her out on Instagram @yeahemme.