How This Car Show Host Went Full Throttle Into Executive Producing

Author: Cheryl Robinson
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Courtney Hansen, a host and executive producer of History Channel’s The Ride That Got Away, is paving the way for other females who want to host and executive produce their own shows. Having raised roughly $3 million through investors and sponsors to produce the show, Hansen, along with cohost Troy Ladd, renowned car designer, are not only restoring old vehicles but creating new memories for drivers.

For every car lover, there’s the one that got away. The one they grew up riding around in with their parents, the first car they ever bought or the dream ride they had to sell when they fell on hard times. Hansen and Ladd are on a mission to find these missing pieces of personal and family history-often veritable pieces of American history too-and get them back to their rightful owners who said goodbye to them long ago. “I decided to create my own show,” Hansen states. “I created the The Ride That Got Away, which was a longtime dream of mine, and partnered with an awesome designer and an amazing team of people on both sides of the camera…It’s connecting that deserving person with their dream ride that they thought they were never going to see again.”

Hansen was able to parlay her love for the automotive industry into a career as a television host when she had the opportunity to audition for the role on TLC’s Overhaulin’ which also aired on Discovery. “Overhaulin’ was really monumental for me,” she smiles, “because that was my first big gig…It was the first car show really of its kind; it was the first time a woman was on a car show. That was really important for me in my career.”

After Overhaulin’ she then went on to host shows on SpikeTV and NBC Sports. She became intrigued by the process and production that went on behind the camera. That’s when she decided it was time for her to step into a producing role. “It is not easy,” Hansen explains. “I remember what the producer of Overhaulin’ said to me. ‘If you become a producer, it’s the hardest you’ll ever work. There aren’t even words for how hard you will work.’”

When Hansen’s vision of The Ride That Got Away became reality, she had to raise money for the production, which was not an easy feat. Halfway through production, a significant donation fell through. “Everything that possibly could have gone wrong went wrong with this project,” she shares. “Nothing with the network but outside of that everything was like people not making their commitments and people not keeping their word. There were a lot of really interesting and unforeseen challenges along the way. I just had to keep plugging away…It was like, ‘nope, we got to get this done. We got to raise this money.’”

“It was harder to raise the money the second time around because it was a little bit like, ‘oh, is this really happening?’” she continues. “I raised a good chunk [of money], which I think is pretty substantial with no pilot and no sizzle reel even at that time. I made up the difference from investors.”

Through the show’s trials and tribulations, Hansen still was able to make deadlines with the launch of the show airing this past January with season two in production now. In addition, she’s working on publishing her second book.

Hansen has focused on the following steps to guide her through all of her career pivots:

Make your vision clear. If you don’t know exactly what you want, how can others help you achieve your goal?
Remain focused on what you want to achieve. Set small, achievable goals that are manageable. A lot of small goals lead to accomplishing the bigger goals.
Practice being in the role you want; act as if you already have it. Speak the position’s lingo and network with those who are already doing what you want.
“I love everything about an automobile,” Hansen concludes. “I think that they kind of are reflective of a woman. They’re curvy and sexy. When they’re [cars] beautifully designed, I feel like it’s the ultimate work of art. I’m drawn to the way that they look and how it feels to be behind the wheel and step on the gas. Every aspect of it is so visceral for me.”