Motorsport is popular around the world, and the USA is no exception. With many different series around the country, often taking place throughout the entire year and in all weathers, the US boasts some on the toughest races on the calendar. I spoke to Kaitlyn Vincie, a reporter and broadcaster in many of these championships, who told me about racing, YouTube and how being a parent has changed her life.
Kaitlyn spent her childhood in an area renowned for it’s motorsport heritage and so it was always part of her life, even though she didn’t attend a NASCAR race until she was older. “I grew up in Virginia where I was exposed to racing at an early age. It was so popular in the area I was from, but I didn’t actually attend my first NASCAR race until I was a teenager at Richmond Raceway,” she said. Despite this, sports journalism was always a passion with her even acting out news broadcasts. “When I was a young kid, my parents had videos of me ‘reporting the news’ at about 12 years old, but as I grew up, I knew I wanted to pursue sports journalism. During college, when I attended a NASCAR race, I narrowed it down to motorsports specifically. People always make the joke that you get ‘bitten’ by the racing bug, and that definitely happened for me. From that point forward, I was devoted to a career in NASCAR as a journalist,” Vincie told me.
As she said, Kaitlyn attended college where she decided that motorsport was the area she wanted to go into. She started writing a column about NASCAR for her school’s newspaper where she would give updates on the championship and post-race recaps from the weekend’s events. “That was my first chance to write about the sport I had grown to love,” she explained. “During that time, I also held down various internships that were television and racing-related with a local news station and the USAR Pro Cup Series based in Concord, North Carolina. My first paying job didn’t come until after college when my roommate saw a posting on CraigsList for a ‘NASCAR reporter and host’ for a local racing show.” Vincie applied for the vacancy and was successful with one of her first roles being at Langley Speedway where she covered many smaller series for a local TV channel. “This was a great opportunity for me to get experience covering the grassroots level of racing. A lot of the current stars of our sport came through Langley in the lower divisions and I was able to interview them at that level,” she said.
Although her role with local TV was allowing her to gain more experience and increase her following, Vincie decided to start a YouTube channel so she could further cover NASCAR. In order to do this, Kaitlyn created her own home studio using a green screen and lighting she purchased and a second-hand camera loaned to her by her producer at Langley Raceway. “It sounds a little bizarre, but they really started to pick up traction and an audience when they were featured on NASCAR Illustrated’s website component. Once that happened, my work was seen alongside some of the most respected journalists in the business. I was able to compile a demo reel that I sent to Speed Channel. Turns out the right people at the right time believed in my abilities and I was offered a job at the network in a social media reporter/promotional role which later grew into an on-air position,” she told me.
Since this, Kaitlyn has been lucky enough to experience several different reporting roles such as a ‘feature reporter’ and ‘garage reporter’. “When I’m reporting in the garage it’s more news style reporting so quick updates on the teams, cars, what they have changed from practice to practice, how the driver is feeling and so on,” Vincie said. However, when doing long-form interviews with drivers and team personnel, she has more time to talk about particular subjects and go into more detail. “I think is a special craft, your subjects have to trust you to open up and let you and the viewers into their lives. Those relationships can take a long time to develop and it’s very hard to do that style of reporting without it,” she explained.
One of the features that Kaitlyn does, and enjoys the most, is called Women in Wheels, and focuses on the females working in motorsport, speaking of it she said: “we have been able to tell so many unique stories of the women in our sport, from engineers, team owners, PR representatives and drivers. It’s a segment celebrating women and showcasing what makes them unique while encouraging other females to follow suit. There are not a ton of women in the male-dominated sport of NASCAR and our goal is to continue showing that there are positions that exist for women to hopefully bring more into the forefront.” Having spoken to so many inspiring women, someone who really stands out to her is Kelley Earnhardt, owner of the JR Motorsport team competing in the Xfinity series. “Kelley has so much on her plate from her responsibilities at JRM, and also being a wife, and Mom to her children. She is someone I look at and think she really does do it all. People underestimate how difficult it can be to be a working Mom and hold down a very demanding career where you have a tremendous amount of responsibilities,” she said.
In her current job, Vincie does a little bit of everything. Working with FOX Sports Motorsport she covers many series with almost a different role in each championship. “(I do) at-track reporting for our Race Hub weekend shows along with Race Day our pre-race show for the Cup Series, garage reporting for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series coverage which includes practices, qualifying and the race and then additionally I work during the week for Race Hub as either a reporter in the field with features, or serving as a co-host on the show occasionally in the studio,” Kaitlyn described, but even that is not all she does. For the last 2 seasons she has also been covering Supercross and although motorsport on 2 wheels is not something she had worked in a lot, she has hugely enjoyed learning about it. “It’s such an entertaining sport and it’s been fun for me to add two-wheel racing to the list of things I can cover,” she told me.
Juggling so many different roles can be a challenge, with each series bringing its own news and events going on both on-track and off-track that Vincie must keep across. “There are a lot of variables in NASCAR that change frequently and so there is a lot to stay on top of. One of the most challenging aspects is each track is different in some regards, the rule packages change along with sponsors, team personnel, drivers, car numbers, inspection processes, penalties, and the list goes on,” Kaitlyn explained. However, in the last year there has been another element added into this juggle, but one which comes with indescribable rewards. In September last year, Kaitlyn and her Car Chief husband Blake, welcomed a baby daughter. “My husband also works in the sport so he has just as much of a rigorous schedule, if not more so, than me. We bring our daughter with us on the road when it makes sense. On top of packing for myself, organizing everything for an 9-month old to travel with you takes some serious balance, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. There is such a sense of accomplishment that comes with parenting that you can’t get anywhere else in life,” Vincie told me.
Kaitlyn Vincie is an example for those posting videos on YouTube with the aim of reaching their dream career. Although when she began, she didn’t expect to get large viewing figures, her personality and knowledge welcomed more and more followers. However, her first paid job was at a local raceway following her studies, something she would advise. “Work at a local racetrack, offer to do at-track reporting for them. Social media has completely changed the nature of the game when it comes to on-camera experience. In today’s age, you could film a report on a camera phone even just to get the experience. Be creative, take advantage of any and all opportunities,” she added. Kaitlyn is also a brilliant example that a family does not stop you having a career in motorsport, and that if you’re good enough, they’ll always be a role for you.
(all photo credits, unless specified, @kaitlynvincie)