Most people recognize them from the yellow and black fire suits they wear in Victory Lane interviews, but the job of a Miss Sprint Cup is much more than just celebrating with a team after the race. They serve as ambassadors for NASCAR and are involved in many activities both on race weekends and throughout the week.
Recently, I had the chance to catch up with two of the current Miss Sprint Cups -- Kim Coon and Jaclyn Roney.
Q: When did you first become interested in racing? Did you grow up watching it?
KC: Kind of a mix! Growing up in Orlando, I lived about 45 minutes away from Daytona. I watched racing, but I wasn't an avid fan. When I got older, I had friends that worked in the sport so I was familiar with NASCAR and I'd been to a lot of races. After I got this job, I have so much more respect for the drivers, the teams and the sport in general.
JR: I first got into NASCAR about 10 years ago so I didn't grow up watching it. I went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and saw my first race there. Once you go, you get sucked in.
Q: When did you become Miss Sprint Cup?
KC: This is my third year. 2011 was my first season as Miss Sprint Cup. I thought every year would be the same, but each year I've gotten to do something different.
JR: I got this job in the middle of 2011, so it's my third season wearing the fire suit.
Q: What's your favorite part of being Miss Sprint Cup?
KC: My favorite part is probably meeting all the fans from all over the world. When you go to the (Atlanta) race you think it's just going to be people from Alabama, Georgia or somewhere from the region. When we're out at the Sprint Unlimited Fan Experience, we meet people from Japan, Australia or Germany who want to see their favorite driver. They've planned their trips to America when there's a race so they can see one. Seeing how passionate NASCAR fans are about the sport is really cool. NASCAR fans aren't like fans in other sports.
JR: When we are able to do things that we get to everyday, but those same things would make someone else's day. When we give away tickets or give away a meet and greet with someone's favorite driver, something they woke up not thinking that they were going to do that day and we are able to make that happen, those are the days that I'm really thankful for my job.
Q: Do you have any Victory Lane celebrations that you remember as the messiest or the most exciting?
KC: The 2011 Daytona 500 when Trevor Bayne won was my very first Victory Lane for a points race. It was so cool because it was history-making and that moment was so incredible. You could hear him over the radio saying "Am I dreaming?" There are some pictures floating around from last year in Kentucky when Brad Keselowski won and the Miller Lite guys just annihilated me. I looked like I had jumped in a pool! I really had a lot of fun two years ago at the fall race in Phoenix when Kasey Kahne won for Red Bull right before Red Bull left the sport. I had a lot of friends on the pit crew so it was fun to get to share that with them. At Dover, Jimmie Johnson won with the Madagascar car and the rainbow wigs were awesome. For the Championship Victory Lane my first year, I don't know how you could have chosen a better ending between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart. We rode the stage out at the end of the race with about 10 laps to go to crown the champion. The race hadn't finished yet so we didn't know who the champion was yet even while we were riding out!
JR: They are all pretty messy, but I think the coolest was my first Victory Lane because I didn't know what to expect! You watch it on TV, but once you're in it you realize they are smaller than they appear. My first one was Michigan with Kyle Busch. That was a lot of fun! I remember his whole team was dousing me and they were saying, "Welcome to Victory Lane rookie!"
Q: How do you get all of that stuff out of your hair?
KC: A couple showers and you have to shampoo quite a few times! Beer smells, but the worst is red Gatorade because it stains. My hair will be pink!
Q: What other Miss Sprint Cup responsibilities do you have during the week? I know you do the victory breakfast at the shop for the winning driver.
KC: Oh goodness, so many! We do have Victory Lane at the shop. It is a lot of fun because there's hundreds of people that work at the shop that don't come to the track on the weekends. A lot of people do not realize what it takes to, not only get to Victory Lane, but also just to field a car every weekend. It takes so many people. We do have a few office days here and there where we catch up on fan mail and different office duties. We do an average of 600 interviews and appearances combined each year. We do an appearance for each track during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. We do filming for Rowdy.com each week where we choose our fantasy picks for the weekend. We do work with the (NASCAR) Hall of Fame and at the different race shops. When the race comes to Charlotte in May and again in October, the shops will have us come to do Q&A's. Our work could be anyone from a track to a sponsor to just anyone who wants us to make an appearance.
JR: During the week, we have an office where we answer fan mail and plan what we are going to do on social media throughout the weekend. There are a lot of us that work in this program. We do anything that can help our team. We do Victory Lane in the shop every week. This is where we bring breakfast to everyone in the shop of the winning race team. Most of the time we leave to go to a race city on Wednesday or Tuesday (depending on where we are flying), so our week flies by pretty fast.
Q: What is your favorite experience you've had as Miss Sprint Cup away from the track? Someone you've gotten to meet or somewhere you've gotten to go?
JR: At Indy 2011, where I met some Make-A-Wish Foundation kids with Richard Petty. That was the coolest thing because these kids have such a positive outlook on life. It was very life-changing and fun!
Q: At the track, you see a lot of little kids that come with their parents, but you don't see as many teenage fans. What do you think the tracks or NASCAR can do to keep teenagers interested in NASCAR?
KC: I think NASCAR and the tracks are doing the best they can to attract all different types of fans. I think the drivers help push that, too. Young drivers like Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick, being a female driver, will help expand the type of the fans coming out to NASCAR races, whether it's by age or gender. As the sport gets a little more competitive and a little more exciting each year, I think it will continue to increase the number of teenage fans.
JR: That's a great question because it's kind of that window between little kids that get brought and then the teenage, even into college age, fans. I've been seeing a lot of them this season come in big groups. I think some of the younger drivers coming into the Sprint Cup Series, like Kyle Larson getting a full ride for next year, is going to bring a new level of fans. He is a fresh face, but well-accomplished driver. The tracks have done a really good job at making the drivers accessible. You can't go to a basketball game or football game and go meet the players like you can here. NASCAR does a lot of meet and greets with the drivers. Our job is all about being accessible. We're kind of the fans' friend on the inside. I think they've done a great job so far and it can only continue to get better.
Q: The next few questions are going to be then and now questions. Think back to your high school days. What was your favorite junk food then and what is it now?
KC: Then -- probably those ice cream sandwiches and now -- I try to stay away from it now but anything dark chocolate!
JR: Pizza then and pizza now. It hasn't changed. (laughs)
Q: What was your favorite TV show then and what is it now?
KC: Probably "Friends" in high school. I still watch that now. But now, I really like "Homeland." It's filmed in Charlotte, which is where I live, so it's cool to watch a show that's filmed in my city!
JR: Then -- it was "The Hills." Now -- "The First 48," which is a murder mystery/reality show. They say if you haven't solved a murder in the first 48 hours after it happened, the chance of solving it is slim to none. The show follows the first 48 hours after a murder.
Q: What was your favorite song/group then and what is it now?
KC: In high school, Blink 182 was probably my favorite band. Now, it's a mix of stuff. I really like The xx, Say Anything or anything that has a good beat because I'm a dancer.
JR: Instead of a song, I'll say Garth Brooks. He's my all-time favorite and I got to see him after the NASCAR banquet in 2011. After the banquet, everyone else went out to industry parties, but I went and bought a single ticket to Garth Brooks. Since I bought a single ticket, I got four rows back, center stage. It was amazing!
Q: What was your favorite fashion trend then and what is it now?
KC: When I was in high school, the backless shirts were really popular. I like the floral trend a lot right now!
JR: I liked the flare pants back in my high school days. Now, I like the peplum tops!
Roney recently annouced in the video on Instagram below that she will be retiring from Miss Sprint Cup because her and her husband are expecting their first child in the spring.
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