HAMPTON – Kaitlyn Vincie says her parents often joked that persistence was her distinguishing characteristic whenever she wanted something badly as a girl. The trait has been invaluable to Vincie as a young lady during the past year, since learning she barely missed out on being named NASCAR Miss Sprint Cup.
If you watch NASCAR Cup races on television, you're familiar with the three Miss Sprint Cup women. They are the ones wearing the driver's suit bearing the Sprint logo, celebrating in Victory Lane with guys like Jimmie Johnson after they win a race. Besides a high tolerance for getting beer thrown on you, a Miss Sprint Cup promotes NASCAR and Sprint in television interviews, on social media and during many hours of live interaction with fans.
"It was probably the biggest disappointment of my life," Vincie said of not becoming a Miss Sprint Cup after reaching the final round of four a year ago. "It's something I feel so suited for.
"So, when I came up short, my first thought was: `What am I going to do to stay connected to the sport?' I wasn't willing to throw aside the racing dream."
Vincie, 23, will get a second opportunity to land her dream job as Miss Sprint Cup when she interviews with Sprint on Wednesday and Thursday in the Charlotte, N.C. area. Sprint is so impressed with Vincie they have allowed her to skip the preliminary interviews she went through last year and go straight to the semifinals.
She believes they will talk to a much more confident woman because of all the NASCAR-related activity she has undertaken in the past year. Vincie has just finished her second season interviewing drivers on the "Langley Speedway TV" show telecast weekly on WSKY Channel 4 and on Cox In Demand.
Vincie also created a fan video fan blog, Hot For NASCAR, on which she interviews drivers and gives her opinions about the Sprint Cup Series. She began posting the video blogs on You Tube in February and on the fan page she started at Facebook.com/HotforNASCAR. They have been so successful that Scene Daily, one of the most prestigious and widely read web sites about stock car racing, now airs them weekly.
"I was a ball of nerves last year for the final four interviews, and I don't think I showed my full potential because of that," Vincie said. "The difference this year is in the confidence level I have in myself, in my NASCAR knowledge and in my skills.
"I'm so much more at ease with myself about being around high-profile and well-connected people in the industry than I was a year ago."
Vincie has interviewed a number of stars and rising stars this season at Langley, including 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott. Her video blogs include interviews with Speed TV host Steve Byrnes and Nationwide Series driver Jennifer Jo Cobb.
Vincie acquired the on-camera poise she now displays nationally, in the pits at Langley Speedway. The mostly male drivers will quickly point out how attractive she is, but will just as quickly tell you she knows the sport.
"She's a very well-spoken young lady," said Shawn Balluzzo, a five-time Langley Modified champion. "She's knowledgeable about Cup, Nationwide and Truck racing, as well as the local scene.
"And when she's discussing something about the race cars, she knows what she's talking about."
Langley Speedway owner Bill Mullis, who provides the primary funding for the weekly show produced by Two Peppers, said Vincie and the telecast have been valuable in promoting the track.
"I like that when a driver might be a little bit shy about talking, Kaitlyn has the kind of friendly demeanor to get them to say something interesting," he said. "Cox has told us that the Langley TV show gets the best ratings of any of the locally produced shows on the channel."
Vincie fell in love with stock car racing as a sophomore at Christopher Newport University three years ago, when she secured a pit pass for the NASCAR All-Star race. Already interested in sports journalism, she decided after her weekend in the pits at Charlotte Motor Speedway to focus on covering motorsports.
So, as "NASCAR's girl at CNU, she wrote a stock car racing column for the school newspaper. She also interned as a public relations rep with a firm representing the USAR Pro Cup Series and wrote a senior dissertation on gender disparity in racing which focused on Danica Patrick.
"Surprisingly, I learned that women were more apprehensive about her using her femininity to further her career, where men thought she was smart to do so," Vincie said. "I expected to find the opposite."
Vincie has since expressed her love of NASCAR on TV, in blogs, via video, in social media and in interaction with the 2,700 who follow her on Twitter and the 2,400 friends on her fan page. Her ultimate goal beyond smiling amid the beer and Gatorade showers in Victory Lane with Jeff Gordon and others, is to someday interview them as a pit reporter for Speed or ESPN.
She feels becoming the next Miss Sprint Cup will help her along that path, while being a satisfying experience in itself.
"One of the reasons I think Miss Sprint Cup suits me so perfectly is that I've always had such a strong appreciation for the sport and its fan base," she said. "I think it's very important for the person replacing Monica Palumbo to have that fan interaction, and I've developed a large fan base through my video blogs and Langley Speedway.
"Not only that, but I'd love the job and give it 120 percent."
FOLLOWING KAITLYN VINCIE
You can follow Langley Speedway TV and Scene Daily contributor Kaitlyn Vincie at the following web addresses:
Twitter: @KaitlynvincieCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times