You have all seen them. They are a staple when it comes to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Those beautiful Sprint Cup women. They are at every Sprint Cup Series race, smiling and eager to greet you, signing autographs and taking pictures. You can visit them at the Sprint Experience, Sprint’s mobile display, out in the midway.
If you’re not at the track, you can always follow them on Twitter, @MissSprintCup, as well as on Facebook at facebook.com/MissSprintCup. The three of them work hard at bringing followers and fans alike the inside scoop on what’s happening in and around the track, hoping to bring them closer to the excitement, as well as their favorite drivers and teams.
These three women will be the first to say if you're looking for glamorous career, you may want to think twice about applying. It's not as glamorous as you may think. Miss Sprint Cup does more than just stand in the Winner’s Circle and congratulate the winning driver and team. She’s expected to be knowledgeable about the sport, past and present, and be able to stand sweltering heat, often more than 100-degree temperatures, in a firesuit. That’s not to say they don’t love it, because they do.
In the following interview, you will learn a little more about one of these spokesmodels who are seen at every NASCAR Sprint Cup event. When asked who the readers of the WIN Series wanted to learn more about, Monica Palumbo was at the top of the list. Before entering into the Q & A portion of this interview, I’d like to share a couple of things I learned about Monica, prior to her time as Miss Sprint Cup.
Monica was born in Charlotte, N.C., on Feb. 24, 1981. She has always been the performer while growing up. During her high school years, Monica was involved in many different activities including vice president of the student body, cheerleading and was even homecoming queen.
In 2001, Monica was crowned Miss North Carolina and went on to the 2001 Miss USA Pageant where, although she didn’t win the crown, she was also awarded the title of Miss Congeniality. This title provided her with the unique opportunity to assist with the promotion of the Sandra Bullock movie, "Miss Congeniality."
As we all are aware, NASCAR’s All-Star Week is upon us. This week includes many different events from the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge and ending with the Coca-Cola 600’s running at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 30. It can make for an extremely busy time for Miss Sprint Cup. Even with all the excitement, Monica was more than willing to work with me on this interview. So sit back and relax! Enjoy getting to know a little more about this interesting young Woman in NASCAR and what motivates her to be the best she can be.
(Lindi Bess) LB-Where were you born? Grow up? Family?
(Monica Palumbo) MP - “I was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1981. One of the few! My parents still live in the same house I grew up in, which is wonderful! I also have an older sister, who is my best friend, and has been known to set me straight a time or two!”
(LB)-Tell us a little about your our life prior to your work as Miss Sprint Cup. Your interests, education, career …
MP-“Wow! Where does one begin? I’ve always been a ham since I was a little girl … wanting to be onstage, under the lights and in front of an audience. I guess you could say I was a handful for my parents! I went to college at East Carolina University, where I studied musical theater. I then bounced to broadcast journalism and then back to theater. Needless to say I was on the five-year plan. I moved out to Los Angeles chasing a dream of mine to be in TV and finally got my degree from California State University-Northridge.”
MP-“I wanted to move to the big city and do all these big things. However, when I finally did make that move (to Los Angeles), I realized it wasn’t for me. I just love the south and being close to home, so I moved back and started anew. Life is a journey; you never know where the road is going to lead you. And it led me back home. That sounds like a country song, huh?”LB-Do you have any family involved in motorsports?
MP-“I sure do. My cousin is a tire carrier and crew captain on a Sprint Cup pit crew.”
LB-Who has been a major influence in your life? Role model?”
MP-“Not to sound cliché, but my mom. She is my everything. My mom is a person who cm from nothing and really made something of herself. She embedded in me that hard work, good morals, and just doing the right thing will really take you far. I look up to her and really respect her. She is my rock and another best friend of mine. I don’t know what I would do without her.”
LB-Can you remember your first experience with NASCAR or any racing for that matter?
MP-“I had heard stories of my grandfather (whom passed away before I was born) listening to NASCAR back then on the radio. He was a HUGE Junior Johnson fan! My grandmother watched it on TV sometimes when we would visit. And of course, being raised in Charlotte, it is all around us! However, I didn’t go to my first race until 2007. I began working for Motorsports Management International and emceed at their mobile marketing displays. It has been in my blood ever since.”
LB-Can you share a little something about yourself that fans wouldn’t know? Pet peeve?
MP-“I can’t stand it when people drive slow in the fast lane! People don’t generally honk down here in the south … so I am trying to work on it.”
LB-Do you have a favorite team or driver?
MP-“I don’t have one favorite, but of course I have a few that I root for more than others. I normally root for the underdogs! David Reutimann, AJ Allmendinger, Tony Stewart (OK, so he’s obviously not an underdog). Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Junior … and the list goes on! I respect and admire all of the guys out there. I just love this sport!”
LB-Emotions run high in Victory Lane. Has there been a visit there that has really moved you? With whom?
MP-“I would have to say when Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500 … we were all just so excited for him! His speech was so heartfelt and real. I will never forget that moment. Texas, last season, when Jeff Gordon won was a real highlight as well. He finally broke his losing streak there! Being in Victory Lane when he pulled in was quite an experience for all of us!“LB-Are you enjoying your time on "Fast Track to Fame"?
MP-“I would love to do more TV! SPEED asked me to be a guest judge for the show in Bristol. It was cool because it gave a lot of the locals a chance to show off their talent and be at the racetrack at the same time! It doesn’t get much better than that!”
LB-What charities do you support and any that personally touch you?
MP-“We do a lot for Victory Junction Gang Camp, which is AMAZING! The Pettys have done so much with that camp and I enjoy being involved and giving back to them in any way. We also help out with Speedway Children’s Charity, as well as a lot of the drivers foundations. The Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle Foundations hold a special place in my heart, since they focus on the welfare of animals. I am a HUGE animal lover and think it is important that they have a voice too!”
LB-Are you seeing anyone? If yes, are they a NASCAR fan as well?
MP-“I sure am! A fella I met in college ... and YES, he is a huge fan of the sport!”
LB-What is your idea of the perfect date?
MP-“Nothing fancy. Anything outdoors works!”
LB-What do you do to relax? Girlfriend time? Your happy place?
MP-“I enjoy just hanging out! I am very laid back. If I could, I would cook out with family and friends every night of the week … that is what makes me happy. It's the simple things in life….”
LB-When you need time to yourself to relax and unwind, my favorite things to do are….
MP-“I cuddle up with my pugs and watch a movie, or listen to music and have a glass of wine.”
LB-The NASCAR season is a long one. What do you like most about being on the road? Least?
MP-“Traveling the States and seeing the way other people live! I love finding local restaurants where ever we go and sightseeing. However, in Dover it seems that the casinos (are) where it is at. Living out of a suitcase is what I like least. I always feel like I am forgetting something.”
MP-“I don’t have just one. there are soooo many!! Hanging out with the race fans, meeting Tom Cruise, getting a front row seat in Winner’s Circle, interviewing drivers, meeting the countless men and women who fight for our country. Being a positive role model to our younger generation, traveling to all the tracks, giving back to charities and hopefully making a difference. It has be an experience of a lifetime and I am forever grateful.”LB-Do you have any words of advice for someone interested in becoming Miss Sprint Cup?
MP-“It’s not as glamorous as you may think it is. But it is well worth it. My advice is to keep following NASCAR! Know your stuff, keep up to date, practice interviewing your family members (pretend they are drivers!) and get ready to travel .... It’s the time of your life!”LB-What are your goals for the future?
MP-“I hope to stay in the sport if the race fans will keep me around! Just trying to live day-by-day and enjoy each moment, so who knows what the future may hold.”
LB-What do you do to stay in shape? Any beauty tips you’d like to share?
MP-“I think being in a firesuit three days out of the week during the summer helps keep the weight off! (she laughs) I am just very active. I love being outdoors, playing with my pugs, walking around the block or even going on a nice long hike. As far as beauty tips, I don’t leave the house without my lip gloss!”
LB- Finish the following statements…..A normal day in my life goes something like this………..
MP-“Coffee, walk pugs, play on the internet, more coffee, run errands, work-out and finish off the day with dinner at my parents house! Pretty simple.”
A race day goes something like this………
MP-“I usually start out at the Sprint Experience, interacting with fans and Sprint Customers. I interview various drivers during appearances at our Sprint Suite or at the Sprint Experience, shoot videos for NASCAR.com and our PR team always has us doing local radio and TV interviews, all of which keeps me busy and wakes me up early.”
She went on to say, "When I’m not at the Sprint Experience, I’m making other appearances for the track or charities, sending tweets and updating our Facebook page. We eventually head over to driver introductions, and I also have a Sprint Pit Report that I read on Sprint Vision. Then its off to Victory Lane to celebrate another great race!”
LB-What are your thoughts on the social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook?
MP-“LOVE LOVE LOVE them!! Social media has really enabled us to connect more with our race friends. That is one of our main sources for communication when you can’t make it to the track. It’s wonderful!”
Monica has a personal Twitter account as well.
@MonicaPalumbo Photo Credited to Sprint Media Relations