Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Women in NASCAR: Kaitlyn Vincie

Photo courtesy of FOX Sports

by Stacey Owens

Most little girls may be made of sugar and spice and everything nice, but a few of them have racing fuel coursing through their veins.

Kaitlyn Vincie, broadcaster for FOX Sports, is one of those young women.

Having been interested in sports journalism since high school, Vincie fell head over heels for NASCAR after attending her first race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Pit passes in hand, she knew right away she wanted to learn everything she could about motorsports.

I loved the atmosphere, the team dynamics. I can remember being very fascinated with the team side of things. I also felt like if I could learn the sport of racing, I would have really accomplished something in my life. It is one of the hardest sports to learn - so many variables change from week to week, and the intricacies of the mechanical side are complex.

“If you didn't grow up working on race cars or have someone in your family line to introduce you to them at a young age, it can be very difficult to learn. So I started dedicating so much of my time to learning the sport while still in college. I bought every racing book I could find, watched practices, qualifying and races. I started a column in my college paper on NASCAR—no one else was writing about racing in our paper, so I offered to do it for free. I did several sports-related internships—three to be exact—that I felt would help me with an on-camera career,” Vincie explained.

After working with a local news station in their sports department as well as working with the Athletic Communications Department at Christopher Newport University where Vincie was a student, she also interned with the PR staff of the USAR Pro Cup Series. While still in college, she moved to Charlotte for a summer so that she could travel with the Pro Cup Series. That’s when she realized how much she loved the travel aspect of covering the sport.

Though she enjoyed her internships, she credits a reporting gig for a racing show at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, for kickstarting her career.

“It was the perfect place for me to start my on-camera career. And at Langley Speedway I was able to cover all kinds of grassroots racing series: modifieds, late models, super trucks, K&N cars,” Vincie said.

It was at Langley where she first met some of the current XFINITY and Cup stars, including Chase Elliott and Bubba Wallace.

Seeking to expand her on-camera skills, Vincie bought a green screen and lighting system and borrowed a camera from the Langley production crew. She began shooting NASCAR reports on her own from her spare room.

I put these on YouTube and they were later picked up by the NASCAR Illustrated website SceneDaily.com. That was a big step for me because now my work was being featured alongside guys like Bob Pockrass and Kris Johnson—respected journalists in the business. It was all these series of steps that eventually landed me the job of a lifetime—reporter at Speed Channel, now FS1,” Vincie explained.

Regular FS1 viewers will recognize Vincie from her work with the Camping World Truck Series as well as NASCAR RaceDay and Race Hub.

If the trucks division has a scheduled race, Vincie's week is packed with preparation.

"Early week I have a lot of planning conference calls for the week aheadone for the Truck Series (when we have a race that weekend) and one for NASCAR RaceDay. I also do work on Race Hub and may have a feature shoot or something similar in the mix that I will record during the week. Thursdays are travel days. Friday we start our shows in the race market. We can have up to three shows a day. This would be Race Hub Weekend Editions, Truck practice or qualifying and of course, the Trucks race. 

"For Truck weekends I put in a tremendous amount of preparationI will watch film of the race from the year prior and go through all my notes from previous weeks and seasons to update all the data I have on each driver. One time, my computer decided to crash, and I lost hours of work. Things like that are beyond frustrating! But in my opinion, for me to do my job and do it well, I have to put in that kind of time to do research. 

"And once I'm actually at the track I like to check in with each team whether it's the driver themselves or the crew chief. I will check in throughout the weekend to see where they started when they unloaded and how they are come race time. Once the Truck race is complete, the focus is back on the Cup Series for our RaceDay show. Fortunately, I have producers with me who help keep everything straight and offer assistance, as well.  It's easy to miss things, and my field producer, Kelly Hambleton, is a second set of eyes in the field, which is incredibly helpful," Vincie said.

One of the segments Vincie hosts on Race Hub is dedicated to women working in the sport. Though Danica Patrick is an inspiration for women on the track, there are a number of women working off-track.

"On race weekends I am starting to see more and more women working in the garage whether it's in a PR role, marketing, sponsorship -- even on road crews we are seeing some female members," she said. "I recently interviewed a female who is the tire specialist for Tommy Baldwin Racing with Regan Smith. There are also female engineers now who are working toward that coveted crew chief role. Women also work at the race shops back in Charlotte in various positions.

"I am fortunate that on Race Hub I host a segment called 'Women in Wheels' that helps profile these amazing women. We have a feature coming up with Lesa France Kennedy, who is the Chief Executive Officer of International Speedway Corporation, and I am thrilled we are getting time with her. I think having women like Lesa in an executive role with ISC speaks volumes - there are women in our sport who are the decision-makers and the brains of the operation, and they are making huge strides for women not only in racing, but women everywhere."

With women like Vincie in the sport, women are well-represented.

For more on Kaitlyn Vincie, visit her website at kaitlynvincie.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @kaitlynvincie and Instagram @kaitlyn_vincie. 

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