And Loving itBack in the earlier days of NASCAR, or motorsports in general, the wives of the drivers were not involved in the same way as they are today. Of course there are always a few exceptions to the rule. Angie Skinner is one of those exceptions. She may not be behind the wheel with husband, Mike Skinner, but this couple definitely work together as a team.
Angie is a member of a fast growing group of wives who are involved in the day to day operations of their husband's driving career. These wives are no longer just sitting at home or in the motorhome. They are quite often up in the driver’s box, or in the merchandise hauler, or yes even out working in their own careers. It's amazing to me that they have not only the energy but the time to be so involved in both.
Angie Skinner has been involved in the NASCAR industry for more that 10 years and is in no way the typical drivers wife. Not only does she manage a major portion of her husband’s career, she also works with the negotiation of contracts in radio broadcasting for NASCAR. The native from Ohio has found much personal success in writing NASCAR themed books such as Race Day GRUB: Recipes from NASCAR Families and Turning Points: Defining Moments in the Lives of NASCAR Superstars.
I approached Angie and requested some of her valuable time. Sure enough she responded without any hesitation. I really felt like I was talking to a friend no more that five minutes into our conversation.
AS(Angie Skinner): I was born in Xenia, Ohio. I was kinda raised in Fairbourne but actually moved to Jackson, Ohio which is in Southern Ohio. That’s where all my family is from, Southern Ohio. My father became ill when I was in eighth or ninth grade. We all moved where our family was from, which was Jackson, Ohio. So I really call Jackson home.
LB: I read somewhere recently that you and Mike just bought a house or began renovations on one...
AS: When Mike and I first got together I was actually working in Columbus, Ohio for CBS Radio Group in Columbus. He (Mike) had a farm just outside of Greensboro, but he had a second home in Daytona Beach. Our first date was kinda in Daytona Beach. By the time I decided to leave Ohio and move in with Mike, we moved to the farmhouse in Ohio but found out Florida was much more like home for us.
We had friends together there and really just seemed to enjoy it a little bit more in that area, so we just moved there. We had an airplane and we actually lived in a neat little community that was a fly-in community. Which means that a lot of time the garages were just airplanes instead of cars. In fact Mark Martin has a house there as well, and still does.
So were like the outcasts in that everyone else in racing was in North Carolina and we decided to make Florida our home. So we lived there for the past 11 years. But we realized that with my career starting to slow down we decide that if I was going to go back to work and he was going to continue racing, or just get more involved that we need to set ground back up in North Carolina.
About two years ago we moved to North Carolina and sold everything we had in Florida. We did keep the condo there because we have so many friends there and I’m on the hospital board there. We want to keep our ties in that area. In a perfect world we’ll stay in North Carolina most of the time and then sometimes in the Winter we’ll sneak down to Florida.
LB: So Angie, what were your childhood aspirations, dreams? What did you want to be when you grew up?
AS: When I was little little I was going to be Olivia Newton John, of course. I wanted to be a musician, you know. I played the piano and I loved acting, and being in plays, and things like that. Then I went through a phase when I wanted to be a gym teacher. I don’t know where that came from. I played soccer growing up and loved sports but when I hit my freshman year of high school I realized I enjoyed communications and broadcasting.
By the time I was a sophomore I took a speech class with an instructor, Miss Smith and she was an amazing teacher. Whenever you had to get up and give a speech most high school kids would freak out and I just thrived on it. I loved it. So I decided pretty much then that I wanted to be a broadcaster.
LB: So you went on to college then…
AS: At Capital there was a really nice radio studio, a really nice TV studio, and when you were a sophomore you were already practicing your trade. I lucked out an got a fabulous adviser and really took off with the broadcasting there. I actually produced TV shows for the public access channel. I created some shows and did some radio, and TV. Had a really great sports internship with NBC 4. I fell in love with broadcasting in general. I went through phases where I wanted to be in sports. Then I thought may I’ll do weather but then I realized all the science you got to do for that. I’ll just go back to sports.
I was always more of the entertainment stuff, like fun lifestyle stories. I did a little bit of serious reporting. I had some things happen to me in my life with my dad being mentally ill. I just felt uncomfortable when the camera’s were in my face and they were being intrusive and asking questions. I realized that I didn’t want to be that person if I was going to be a broadcaster, I wanted to do something that was fun and made people smile instead of making people sad, if that makes any sense. I went through an investigative phase for a while like when Dateline was really popular and I wanted to do that. But then again I was after more going for the fun side and the more lifestyle stories than the hard hitting serious stories. Although I am a news junkie I didn’t want to be the one hurting people’s feelings.
While in college I worked and put myself through school. My parents were not wealthy enough and had not saved for me to go to college. I think one year I had like 18 W-2 forms from so many odd jobs. Just trying to go to school and keep myself in my books, and tuition as well as room and board and everything.
One of my jobs was working for a hockey team, the Columbus Chill. It was an amazing job because I just basically ran the cameras. I was the camera girl for the officials, and the team, but I think it really opened up my passion for sports. Just being around and being in the press box. Being around the reporters and the broadcasters. I started to get more and more intrigued for sports with that job.
LB: When you were growing up did or even now is there anyone that you admired or that was a mentor in your life?
AS: When I was growing up I always admired women in broadcasting like female sports reporters, no one specifically. I always thought Barbara Walters was pretty amazing because she could do hard hitting news and she could always get the big interview with the famous celebrity and they still took her seriously.
On a personal level, I always admired my sister, who is 13 years older than me. She was like my other mother and she had a baby when she was 18 and didn’t finish college so she made sure that I did. She took care of me and also gave me a place to live when I moved to Columbus where there were a ton of opportunities. I lived with her, my brother-in-law and my nephew. I have a story for you about my brother in law, we’ll share later. I guess I always looked up to my sister because she always made things happen. She had great taste although she was never really wealthy, but she always got by because she was a go getter and never gave up.
LB: Who do you most admire within the world of NASCAR?
AS: I would have to say Stevie Waltrip. She really was the pioneer for wives to be allowed in the pits – she made sure she could enjoy her husband's passion alongside him on a pitbox for years, and really revolutionized women in the garage to be accepted and appreciated. When you love someone so much you want to be with them for their successes. Stevie proved a point when she grabbed a clipboard and went to work. She WOULD be in the pits with her husband!
|Darrell and Stevie Waltrip|
Courtesy of Charlie Halley, PR Photos
AS: I would love to interview George Bush, George W, he intrigued me a lot. I don’t get all giddy when I see celebrities because I worked in the pop music field for so long that I met all the big stars of their days for music. But for some reason if I ever had the opportunity to meet both George and Laura Bush and have lunch with them, I would love to do something like that. Especially now after he served his presidency and he owns sports teams. I love Laura Bush's attitude. They're very successful very self-made people. I know a lot of people complained about him as president but I think for what he had to deal with, he didn’t do too bad a job. I wouldn’t say I’m Republican or Democrat. I just want who’s best for the job. He also likes our sport.
|Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs|
AS: Motorsports! (laughing). Actually what happens, and it’s a fun deal. I was an on air talent and had a contract. So I had to go work for another radio station. So I could not be on the air for a year and a half. So I went into sales and discovered I was pretty good at this sales deal. But I had a lot of event experience just working my way up through marketing in radio.
I got asked to work a NASCAR event. Football and hockey were my sports. That’s what I would watch on TV, that’s the jerseys I would wear. That’s what I was in love with. The station said they were going to do a NASCAR event at this small Columbus Motor Speedway. I didn’t know anything about NASCAR. They were having 4 NASCAR drivers come and compete and it would be just a fun little fan thing and get people out there and intrigued in motorsports. So I thought OH MY GOD I HATE FREAKING NASCAR (laughs).
My brother-in-law, whom I lived with on and off with at my sister’s house, was a die hard NASCAR fan. Back in the day with no DVR just VCR, you couldn’t record anything without watching the channel. So every Sunday he had to record the race. It would drive us all crazy because we couldn’t change the channel and we hated racing. They just go around in circles, are you kidding me. So we always complained about it. My dad was a renegade, a real bad ass actually and he’d drag race. I knew Richard Petty cause he was dad’s favorite driver. I also knew the name Dale Earnhardt because my brother-in-law was a big Earnhardt fan.
When Days of Thunder came out we went to see the movie. I remember making fun of it. So when I was asked to work the event, I grabbed my brother-in-law Randy and said you gotta come with me. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. He was like ‘Oh cool!’.
But she went and took Randy. She said about an hour into it she was hooked. She’d gotten a garage pass and saw all the work that went into it. The engineers and all the crews, and the drivers. She also said that the people had a lot to do with her being so taken by the sport. Everyone was so friendly. In the sports of football and hockey, not that they were mean, just that the NASCAR people were friendlier.
LB: How did you meet Mike?
AS: I started going to some races. One of the things was that my radio station was the second country station in town so I was always trying to come up with a way that programming wise that we could get one up on the other station. When I went to the Charlotte race I noticed that they ran the race on the FM station. Which in Ohio was unheard of. If you would hear NASCAR it was on the AM dial. So I went back to my general manager and program director and said that we are trying to make money on Sunday’s and we give away spots, but if we had NASCAR we could sell Morning Drive on a Sunday, which is something the other station didn’t have. How cool would it be if we had NASCAR on the FM dial.
During this time, Mike had seen me and a couple people had approached me because I had been going through a divorce and he’d just gotten his divorce. Everyone was saying that this Skinner guy thinks your cute and he wants to talk to you. But I was like he’s not my type. He and Dale Earnhardt are like these rough guys with big mustaches and I’m just not into that. (laughing) They seem a little scary to me. So no thank you. I’ll hang out with my little broadcast buddies.
But the more I was in the garage, the more I wanted to move to Charlotte. I actually got an offer to move to a station in Charlotte. They wanted to get the NASCAR races and put me in charge of it. So Mike was on my interview list. If you can get Mike Skinner, he’s really hard. I was like no problem. He’s been chasing me. I was being really cocky. So I go up to his bus driver and said I need to interview Skinner. They said unless I went to his bus or motorcoach, I wouldn’t get the interview.
Angie grabbed a friend and went ahead to the motorcoach. She said she walked in and he was just so nice. Totally not the person she had thought he was. Very polite, very charming. He decided he’d flirt with Angie's friend and not her to teach her a little lesson.
She decided that maybe she should go out with him. But Mike called up her friend and asked her out on a date instead. He doesn’t chase people around. This all happened at Martinsville in 1999. The two alked on the phone for the first month and went on their first date. Angie decided she wasn’t going to date him at the track. She didn’t want to meet Mike Skinner the race car driver, she wanted to meet Mike Skinner the person.
Their first date was in Florida that same year during the Spring. Florida was a neutral space. They had a great first date and were together non stop after it. They both had $1000 phone bills because they spoke so often on the phone
LB: Where did you get married?
AS: We got married in Florida. Under the tree where we shared our first kiss. We were going to get married at our home but the wedding got so big. We didn’t think anyone would want to come because it was Thanksgiving weekend. Richard Childress ended up flying the whole team down. We got married under this big oak tree. Our reception was in an airplane hanger. It was awesome.
LB: What song did dance to at the reception?
AS: “My Best Friend” by Tim McGraw
LB: What is Mike doing now? You guys are looking for sponsors right?
AS: I will tell you what happened, Mike and I are both very spoiled to be with quality rides, rides where every week when you go to the race track you know you have a chance to win. That has more value than a million dollar salary and when Bill Davis Racing shut their doors, we lost that ride.
Toyota was wonderful, they called us and said BDR shut down, we will help you get with another team because we still want you in the series. So we signed on with Randy Moss Motorsports and David Dollar, it was almost a Cinderella story. David Dollar and Randy Moss had no sponsorship or plans to run in 2009 and Mike didn't have a ride, so a week or two before Daytona, we had a contract for the 2009 season. Mike brought Toyota to the table, so the team switched to Toyota from Chevrolet. We won three races, pole positions and finished third in points and then Kyle Busch hired Eric Phillips away from Randy Moss Motorsports. As soon as Eric walked out the door, it was not the same. That was the most frustrating season ever (2010). Behind our back, we found out that Randy Moss Motorsports were searching for Mike's replacement, thinking he was the problem with the team. We negotiated out of our contract, so no one would have to deal with each other any longer.
LB: Going back to May of 2009, when Mike gets hit and is one his side, how do you deal with that as his wife?
This crash at Lowe's Motor Speedway was a scary oneAS: Oh God, I never really struggled with it until 2001 and Dale Earnhardt died. When Dale Earnhardt died I had a really bad year, literally the MRO (Motor Racing Outreach) pastors would come pray with us before a race and they could see my nerves. They finally sat me down, we talked about things and I found a sense of peace knowing this is what Mike wants to do and now NASCAR has made everything so much safer. I do not worry about it as bad now.
for the Skinners. Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images
for the Skinners. Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images
LB:Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to Mike?
AS: Yea, he has a habit of leaving his belt in his pants when he takes them off. That pisses me off, I do not know why.
LB: I read that Mike refers to you as "Monster"?
AS: Yea that is my nickname. Some people have affectionate nicknames like sweetie, sugar and yet he calls me Monster. I do not know why or what I have done to be the Monster but the problem is now that it has become cute.
LB: It takes a strong women to be both a wife and manager to their husband's career. You do both, what is your favorite part of it all? What is your strongest trait?
AS: I think when I get a contract done whether it be getting a sponsor to say yes or getting a manufacture to say that they are happy with you. My strongest trait is probably my honesty, I have always tried to be the manager that is not hated. I feel blessed to have Mike racing at his age and keeping himself and myself grounded is important.
Word Association for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees:
David Pearson: Bad ass
Bobby Allison: Survivor
Lee Petty: Patriarch
Ned Jarrett: sweetest man alive
Bud Moore: he is a patriot, when I think of Bud Moore I think of the military man more than the racer. Patriotism and admiration
The WIN Series is exclusive to Skirts and Scuffs and was created by Lindi Bess. The first original column to the site, a niche that Lindi felt was missing in NASCAR coverage. Bringing our readers interviews with some of NASCAR's most notable females such as Samantha Busch, Kim Wallace, Krista Voda, DeLana Harvick, Wendy Venturini and many more. Lindi has also recently interviewed drivers such as Clint Bowyer, Marcos Ambrose, David Reutimann and Andy Lally. If you've missed any of Lindi's Interview's, just click on her name on Skirts and Scuffs home page. If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to tweet me @LindiB_NASCAR or leave a comment at the bottom of an interview. I read all comments. Thank you.
I would like to personally thing Amanda Ebersole for her assistance with this piece. I couldn't have done it without her help transcribing the 2nd half of interview.
I would also like to thank Angie Skinner for being so open with me about her life.