This extended Q&A marks the next in a series with FOX Sports motor sports personalities to be highlighted over the next several months. NASCAR RACE HUB reporter Kaitlyn Vincie, who also serves as a pit reporter for FS1’s coverage of the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES and reports for NASCAR RACEDAY and NASCAR VICTORY LANE, hails from Harrisonburg, Va. She got her NASCAR reporting start at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. Vincie will report from pit road for Saturday’s NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES at Martinsville Speedway (live on FS1 at 1:30 PM ET with pre-race coverage beginning at 1:00 PM ET with NCWTS SETUP). For more information on Vincie, please CLICK HERE.
FOX SPORTS: You grew up in Virginia and have followed NASCAR since you were a kid. What is your first memory of Martinsville Speedway?
Vincie: “While I grew up watching races at Martinsville, my most vivid, first memory at the track was when I first got hired at SPEED Channel in 2012 as part of the traveling road-tour team. It was race weekend there, and Steve Byrnes invited me to shadow him on pit road during the Cup race. Steve and I had corresponded over the years, and he knew I was interested in becoming a pit road reporter. That was a very special moment for me, and looking back I cherish it even more now. Steve will always be one of the very best broadcasters a reporter can emulate. That was my first opportunity to see just how much goes into working pit road, what traffic you are balancing in your headset, and how a pit spotter is a valuable asset. I didn’t know it at the time, but Steve’s pit spotter, Walter Cox would one day become my pit road spotter for Truck Series races. From that moment forward, I knew with even more certainty that pit road reporting was what I wanted to do. I will always be thankful for Steve and for many of our other reporters at FOX who took time to do things like this for me when my career was first starting.”
FOX SPORTS: Your first day with SPEED wasn’t on the air. Tell us about your first few weeks with the network and how you made the transition to on-air?
Vincie: “My first gig with SPEED was with the traveling road-tour team. We were in charge of all fan activation at the SPEED Stage before and after the live shows, and also held a variety of social media and marketing responsibilities. I had watched SPEED for years, so being a part of the network in any capacity was a huge deal for me. I knew I ultimately wanted to find a way to be an on-air reporter, but I was so grateful at the time to just begin working in the sport, traveling the circuit and meeting all my co-workers at SPEED.
“Prior to SPEED, I wrote a NASCAR column for my university (Christopher Newport University) newspaper, had various internships while in school with the USAR Pro Cup Series, local TV stations and my university athletic department to try and position me well for a job out of college. I originally was hired two months after graduation in 2010 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., as a host and reporter covering all the local short-track racing divisions: late models, K&N, modifieds and super trucks. In addition to Langley, I started filming reports on NASCAR in a spare room in my house. I learned video editing software on my computer, purchased a green screen and lighting system and started posting reports to YouTube. I was looking for any way to talk about the sport I loved on-camera, while still waiting tables and working one day a week at Langley. The YouTube reports were later picked up by NASCAR Illustrated’s website, SceneDaily.com. All of these various endeavors allowed me to compile a small demo reel that I periodically updated and sent to contacts I had at SPEED. Once I had my foot in the door at SPEED on the road tour team, some of our executives gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to start working on Race Hub as a reporter. My first assignment was at Kevin Harvick’s charity golf tournament interviewing Kevin on the course. I was on vacation with my family when that segment aired on Race Hub and it was a proud moment for my parents. I later received a large print photo of me interviewing Kevin from Kevin’s team, and it still hangs in my house as a reminder of what an incredible opportunity I was given with this network.”
FOX SPORTS: You worked with Kyle Petty, Rutledge Wood and Krista Voda your first year on Trackside on SPEED and then FS1. Was it hard to find your place with personalities as big as KP’s and Rutledge’s?
Vincie: “It was a little intimidating to join that cast of personalities initially. Krista was someone whose career I had watched closely for years. I was always impressed with her racing knowledge, apparent ease on-air and her abilities to switch so seamlessly between hosting and reporting. It was an honor to work alongside her in any capacity. Rutledge and I had corresponded prior to me being a part of Trackside, and he could not have been more welcoming. To this day he is someone I lean on a lot for advice on the business and has become a good friend. Kyle was then, and still is, one of my favorite personalities to watch in the sport. I was so excited to be a part of any show that included him. The three of them all seemed to work very well together and had great chemistry. I was the new kid, so it took me awhile to find my niche, but maybe by Homestead, I had it down.”
FOX SPORTS: What would someone who doesn’t know you be surprised to learn about you?
Vincie: “I can listen to any movie soundtrack and tell you who composed the musical score. It’s an odd, useless skill that both my sister and I have. Growing up, we listened to a lot of soundtracks and surprisingly, there’s only a handful of movie score composers, so it’s not too difficult to learn their specific sound – the same as you would with a vocalist’s. I guess you could say we are both musically inclined. We played instruments growing up and sang.”
FOX SPORTS: You’ve come a long way in the last two years on pit road in the Truck Series. How would you assess your progression and what was the hardest part of adjusting to your role as a pit reporter?
Vincie: “It’s been a gradual progression. Despite shadowing pit-reporters, I don’t think I was fully prepared for how difficult the job can be. There is so much happening at once, and you never know what variables you will have to deal with. Whether it’s incidents in the race, weather delays, an equipment malfunction right before you call a pit stop, anything. For example, I had my jerk camera go blank once when I was about to call a triple pit stop in an ARCA race. Obviously, you can’t see three pit stops at once so you need that camera screen. But those are all things you learn as you go. The balance of traffic in your ear is something you get used to, as well. The average viewer doesn’t realize how much traffic reporters and booth talent are balancing in their headset. I hear my pit producer, our three both talent, my fellow pit road reporter, our producer for the series and myself in one ear. In the other ear, I scan the race team channels. Radio chatter can be hard to decipher at times — especially at loud short tracks like Bristol or Martinsville. That’s where a pit spotter is key – they are your second set of eyes and ears on pit road and make your section of pit road a little more manageable. I also rely a lot on the public relations reps for the teams. They are a huge asset to keep me in the loop on changes and driver feedback as the race progresses.”
FOX SPORTS: What’s more important to you — fitness or a good bourbon? And what’s your go-to choice in both?
Vincie: “Depending on the day, but most likely bourbon always trumps fitness because bourbon is just more fun. But, in all seriousness, as a former college track and field and cross country athlete, I still enjoy fitness and run at local parks and also do interval training. It’s important to stay fit, especially when you’re running up and down pit road every single week. As far as bourbons go, one of my favorites is from Pritchard’s Distillery outside Nashville. It was called Sweet Lucifer, and the name does it justice. I’m actually currently working on creating my own brand of whiskey that I would like to manufacture and sell at local businesses and at race tracks. It’s going to have racing undertones to the story and theme — similar to what Florida Georgia Line has done with their brand, Old Camp and country music.”
FOX SPORTS: You sing on the side. How long have you been singing, what type of music, where do you perform and what goals have you set for yourself?
Vincie: “I first went to Nashville when I was 20 to try out with my best friend for a singing duet show on CMT. Country music and racing have such a strong correlation – every weekend at the track there are incredible country music acts that play pre-race. I think, by this point, I’ve seen every major country artist live either at a track or at a show. Over the last off-season, I spent quite a bit of time in Nashville singing with a friend’s band — Bobby McClendon. He reminds me of Jason Aldean in both sound and look. His manager is a good friend of mine, and Bobby was kind enough to let me hop on stage at various spots on Broadway in Nashville and sing. I also did some shows with them in Wisconsin, Virginia Beach and Cincinnati. I would like to do more of that in the off-season again. During the season, I try to get my singing fix at Saeed’s in Cornelius near Charlotte. The bartender there knows my go-to karaoke songs at this point. And he always has a double whiskey sour ready for me.”
FOX SPORTS: Is there anything in your career that you haven’t covered that you’d like to?
Vincie: “The end goal for me would be to do pit road reporting for Cup races. That’s the obvious goal. But right now I am really happy. I am so focused on the now that it’s hard to look toward the future. The responsibilities and work that have been laid out for me currently keep me plenty occupied. I take opportunities as they come but never rush the process.”
FOX SPORTS: The 2015 and 2016 seasons saw a much busier schedule for you. Is there any one habit or procedure you have in place that helps you balance your schedule?
Vincie: “I am still trying to learn that balance. It’s definitely an unusual schedule, between conference calls during the week, pre-race research and preparing, shows on the weekend, production meetings, feature shoots and travel. There is always a lot going on. I’ve gotten so used to living out of a suitcase that I could pack it with my eyes closed. One small thing I discovered that seems to just make a world of difference: valet parking at the airport. There’s nothing worse than coming home to Charlotte after a long weekend at the race and waiting 20 years for your bag, and another 20 on the parking shuttle. The less time at the airport, the better.”
FOX SPORTS: You’ve been on your share of sweltering pit roads this year. What’s your secret to looking camera-ready and not shower-ready?
Vincie: “Again, still trying to figure that one out. Luckily for me, my pit spotter keeps a foundation compact in his pocket for me, so I look a little more presentable for post-race interviews. There is nothing glamorous about pit road and garage reporting. You’re in the trenches at a race track, and if you manage to look good doing it, it’s nothing short of a miracle. I have learned a braid is the best bet for your hair. It really is the only way to manage when you’re in 100-degree weather and humidity in the summer and pit road feels like one of the hottest places on Earth.”
FOX SPORTS: You were a state champion runner (in the 4×400 relay) in high school. If you had to pick a relay partner from someone on your Truck Series on-air crew, who would it be and why?
Vincie: “The relays were always one of my favorite parts of being a track athlete. That’s a tough one, but I would have to go with Hermie Sadler. He’s always my partner on pit road, so I know he can hustle because you can’t do pit road reporting if you can’t move quickly.”