To celebrate the return of the Daytona 500, Females in Motorsport spoke to a host of FOX Sports talent who will each play an integral part in this week’s broadcasts for and leading up to the iconic Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway for NASCAR and its various support series.
Jamie Little has been involved in motorsport for two decades, joining FOX in 2015 as part of their NASCAR Cup Series coverage. Quite simply, racing is the paramount reason why she decided to pursue a career in broadcast journalism.
In 2020, it was revealed that Jamie would take on the role of lead play-by-play announcer for Fox’s coverage of the ARCA Menards Series beginning in 2021. By doing so, she became the first woman to be the lead television play-by-play announcer for a national motorsports series.
“Daytona is the mecca of stock car racing - when you see that facility, you KNOW it's special,” says FOX NASCAR pit reporter for the NASCAR Cup Series and the Daytona 500, Jamie Little. “When you drive through the tunnel, you feel the energy. The racing is intense, dangerous. When you wreck at Daytona, it's HUGE, when you win, it's life changing. As a broadcaster of those moments, it doesn't get better than that. The stories run so deep, from ARCA to the NASCAR Cup Series level.”
Ahead of the coverage this week, Jamie reflects on what it’s like to be a part of an event steeped in history.
“You literally FEEL the history at a place like Daytona,” she says. “The lives that have been changed, the dreams that have come true.
“It's events like Daytona that grasp new fans and carry the sport into the future. There's a responsibility to embrace the past and tell stories about the history while also educating about the modern day and what has become of the sport.”
Prior to the weekend Jamie constantly gathers information on the series, news and what’s happened previously at the venue. When as much research as possible has been completed, it's time to go live.
This is where Jamie has a ritual of eating some food beforehand - a small thing that has become a part of her pre-show routine.
“My thought process struggles on an empty stomach,” she says. “We always say, ‘Have a great show and HAVE FUN!’ over the headset to the producer and my fellow colleagues. It always gets your mood right, as it's always an intense, nerve-wracking time, but when you're reminded to "have fun," it's truly why we're doing this.”
And, just like any live broadcast, the Daytona 500 and ARCA Menards Series won’t be easy.
“When you cover a race, you don't have a script,” she says. “You must be ready for anything to unfold. I've covered the biggest wins of drivers’ lives, I've been in the middle of fights and I've covered death in a race. You have to know how to do your job, regardless of the emotion.”
Kaitlyn Vincie is the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pre-race host in the studio.
“Is it cliche to say I love everything about motorsport?” she says, “I truly love the sport of NASCAR. From the first time I saw it in person, I felt like it was unlike anything I had ever seen before.
“Racing is unique in the sense it takes man and machine - both have to do their job to earn the top prize. There are so many elements that have to come together to win races, and watching that and witnessing it come together in person is nothing short of incredible.”
Covering these flagship motorsport events - like racing at Daytona, one of the “marquee events of our sport” will always be special to her. It’s an experience that she describes as humbling.
“There have been so many times over my career when I had to pause and just appreciate the moment,” she says. “Whether it was covering Daytona 500s, or championship races, or BRICKYARD 400s, or Darlington events.
“There are many race weekends that still pay homage to the days of old in this sport, and those are the ones that are extra special. There are also the turning points of the sport, when some of NASCAR’s greatest talents walked away and retired, and I was there to cover parts of their careers and their retirements. Those are the moments I’ll always remember from my time covering NASCAR.”
Jamie Howe is a Pit Reporter for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and relishes the challenge that live sport brings.
“Daytona is synonymous with racing in the United States,” Jamie says. “I’ve covered so many different series on those high banks. For years I watched some big names in motorsports come over to race the Rolex 24.
“I’ve watched as teenagers make their superspeedway debut with nothing but dreams in front of them in ARCA and Trucks. It’s where the season starts for NASCAR, sports cars, road racing motorcycles - it’s a new beginning and a huge challenge!”
The broadcast this weekend will present a flurry of potential obstacles for Jamie. One of the keys to overcoming them will be the vital preparation.
“Before a race or a show, I run through the format in my head for the first segment just to make sure I know where we are going and what the storylines are,” she says. “I take a couple minutes to myself to just clear out all of that stuff too. I fix my makeup, brush my hair, make sure my scanner is ready to go and try to go into the race with an open mind on what could happen.”
With the rapid growth in social media over the past decade, the way races are presented have changed - the fans are an active and live part of the conversation.
“We are no longer news breakers,” Jamie says. “We are more storytellers. Keeping those stories fresh and exciting becomes the challenge.
“I cover a lot of different series, sometimes multiple ones on the same weekend, so I spend the week trying to stay on top of what’s happened since the last race. I rewatch the race broadcasts, I look at social media accounts, I read event-specific notes and stats for some perspective and then I walk around and talk to all the drivers/ riders and teams on site.”
Kate Osborne is a ARCA Menards Series reporter for FOX Sports.
Joining this team of brilliant women this weekend is Kate Osborne who sees Daytona as “iconic”.
“When you drive into that place, you can feel that it is something special,” she says. “It is a place from which you always remember your first experience. For me, Daytona was monumental in my career.
“It is the track where I debuted as a real pit reporter on a national TV broadcast. I remember listening to the national anthem on the grid in 2020 thinking, ‘Wow, I am actually working at Daytona.’ No matter how many times I drive into Daytona, I will always remember my first time there.”
What draws her to the world of motorsports is the adrenaline, community and having a like-minded family. There’s tenacity, copious amounts of dedication and a multitude of grit in order to succeed in the harsh environment.
“It has a way of drawing people in,” she says. “It's been said that ‘motorsport is a way of life’ and I truly believe it.”
Daytona event calendar for the week ahead
Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 and 2 - NASCAR Cup Series - 17th Feb (7:00 PM ET on FS1)
NextEra Energy 250 - NASCAR Camping World Truck Series - 18th Feb (7:30 PM ET on FS1)
300 Lucas Oil 200 driven by Tire General - ARCA Racing Series (1:30 PM ET on FS1) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (5:00 PM ET on FS1) - 19th Feb
Daytona 500 - NASCAR Cup Series - 20th Feb (2:30 PM ET on FOX)