Famed car enthusiast Cristy Lee is best known for her work on popular automotive series on the MotorTrend network, as well as her HGTV home renovation shows. However, these days, she’s starting a new chapter after triumphing over two rare diseases. Well, our Stephanie Hart caught up with her at her new shop in Detroit where she shares her inspiring story.

CRISTY LEE: The MotorCity Built shop space has lots of stuff going on in here, as you can see. The biggest project right now is my 1998 BMW M3 which I’m building into a track car. I’m going to do a couple track days this season and maybe a few drop-in races since I have my SCCA race license now.

STEPHANIE HART: When Cristy Lee is not under the hood of one of her cars or fixing her motorcycles, she’s competing in HGTV’s “100 Day Hotel Challenge.” And earlier this year, she hosted the home renovation show “Battle on the Mountain” on HGTV.

She also re-launched her company MotorCity Built, which puts all her passions, fixing cars and motorcycles, renovating homes, and real estate under one umbrella. By her side every step of the way, her shop dogs. Can you tell I instantly fell in love with this puppy?! She named him Diesel, which couldn’t be more perfect. I asked Cristy if I could give him a treat and as soon as he heard me open the treat bag he jumped right into my lap. I could not stop laughing!

Next Chapter with Cristy Lee 1

Diesel is now 6 months old and Zoey is 7 years old. The puppy was one of four dogs she fostered earlier this year. And understandably she couldn’t give this little guy up. Cristy Lee’s cars and motorcycles are nice, but her fur babies stole the spotlight while we were recording this video. And we were more than happy to give it to them!

Cars and motorcycles have always been a huge part of Cristy Lee’s life. Her dad was a BMW master technician and a shop owner for more than 30 years, ultimately inspiring her automotive career. She gained notoriety on MotorTrend Network, on popular shows like “All Girls Garage” and “Garage Squad.”

Over the years, Cristy Lee has inspired countless women to pursue their dreams in the automotive arena.

CRISTY LEE: I think the best way to empower other women is to just get out there and do it, and I think that women see that and that’s what really, truly inspires them to do the same thing; like, “hey, I saw her working on this car. Well, I want to learn how to do that. I’m going to go out and do it.” And that’s what’s really awesome about this industry and being a part of that.

STEPHANIE HART: But in 2023, life as she knew it was turned upside down.

CRISTY LEE: Basically, I got sick overnight and it was life changing. Being diagnosed with Graves’ disease and thyroid eye disease, without any symptoms or being pre-symptomatic in any way shape or form; basically, just waking up one morning and having pain and eye swelling, and then within a week I was in the emergency room.

images: Array
    [0] => Array
            [image] => 16811

    [1] => Array
            [image] => 16808


STEPHANIE HART: Since then, she’s had her thyroid removed, and back to back surgeries and procedures. She’s now learning to live with two autoimmune disorders while taking on projects in a new way.

CRISTY LEE: Maybe I have to do a little bit better of a job listening to my body, to what’s going on externally, to the people that love me that say “slow down, you’re doing too much.” So that was a big life lesson for me.

STEPHANIE HART: About a year after her rare diagnosis, a silver lining. She tied the knot with her partner of 10 years.

JOHN HAWKINS: The funny thing is I actually proposed before she got sick and then she fell apart on me. But no, it was the right time before she got sick. But even after she got sick, it just meant a lot more to us.

CRISTY LEE: Sharing my journey is my way of passing on that strength. If it affects even one person in a positive way that has Graves’ disease or thyroid eye disease or is going through anything medically, that is a huge plus for me. And that’s kind of what keeps me going and keeps me talking about these things, and helps continue to drive me and preserve through these challenges in my life.