Kyle Busch will make a guest driving appearance in Friday’s Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 Truck Series race kicking off Pennzoil 400 NASCAR weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Ordinarily, that would be big news.
But the two-time Cup Series champion already has won three times in similar cameo roles at LVMS. So the bigger milestone by a Las Vegas native will be achieved in the broadcast booth, where Green Valley High’s Jamie Little will be calling the race for FS1.
It will mark her debut as a full-time play-by-play broadcaster, the first time a woman has filled that role in one of NASCAR’s major touring series. That it is happening at her hometown track will make it that much more special, said the longtime pit road reporter.
“All the years I’ve covered racing there, I’ve never seen the booth. So this will be new for me,” said Little, a 44-year-old mother of two — her husband, Cody, moonlights as an Indianapolis 500 pit crew member.
She was still in high school when she fell in love with dirt bikes and started going to races at LVMS.
“So many memories, and as I stand in the booth and overlook that track and know that I’m the lead voice, it’s going to be a really cool moment for me,” she said.
Little made her debut as a play-by-play voice three years ago in the steppingstone ARCA Series and reprised the role during last year’s Truck Series race at the Knoxville, Iowa, dirt track. But when Vince Welch was let go by Fox, it created an opportunity for Little to expand her play-by-play duties.
Between ARCA and the Truck Series, she’ll likely wind up doing roughly 30 races. She’ll be reunited with her ARCA analysts, former NASCAR drivers Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip, in the Las Vegas booth.
Little said the differences in covering pit road and doing play-by-play are more stark than Daytona’s high-banked turns and the flat ones at Martinsville, Virginia.
“You have to keep your head on what lap they’re on, stage racing, points, penalties, the rules, restarts, all that stuff. Then taking us to break and coming back – there’s just so many mechanics that come with play-by-play that you never have to think about as a pit reporter,” she said.
There also are cosmetic differences. When you’re inside a climate-controlled broadcast booth, you needn’t worry about warding off cold weather with a winter cap, which was the case during last week’s race at unseasonably cold Auto Club Speedway in California.
“I’m warm, there’s professional lighting, I get my hair and makeup done, I dress fancy – all of those things I don’t do on pit road,” Little said.
But if viewers don’t note the change in appearance, she not only won’t mind, she prefers it. Much like a baseball umpire, Little believes the highest praise women breaking down barriers in male-dominated occupations can receive is not to be noticed.
She likes to tell a story about interviewing A.J. Foyt for the first time as an Indianapolis 500 pit road reporter. Foyt can be cantankerous, and Little said she could hear her heart jumping out of her chest through her headphones.
But Foyt accepted her from the start.
“The easier way to describe what this role means to me, and other women, is I’m the first and only female to ever call a NASCAR race at any national level,” she said.
“And I hope that I’m the first of many.”