[media-credit name=”Photo Credit: nascar.com” align=”alignright” width=”236″][/media-credit]She is a new mom and an intrepid ESPN pit reporter but in just a few weeks Jamie Little will be host as she returns to one of her favorite events, NASCAR After the Lap, in her hometown Las Vegas during Champion’s Week.
For the fourth year and since its inception, Little will be trying her best to herd the NASCAR champion and the other top 12 cats during the special event, which serves as a prequel to the 2012 Sprint Cup Series Awards banquet.
“I have been the host since it was created,” Little said. “NASCAR was trying something new when they brought the championship to Las Vegas and they asked me to host it.”
“And we hit on something and people just really liked it and the drivers really enjoyed themselves,” Little continued. “It was a hit and I can’t believe it’s already the fourth time.”
Little said that although the venue is new, this year at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, she is preparing for what always is a spontaneous, fly by the seat of your pants evening. And she does her best to loosen up the tongues of the driver with her questions, from the quiet drivers to those that need no encouragement.
“We try to set it up to elicit some comedy from the drivers but with some of them, it doesn’t take much to get them going,” Little said. “There is going to be some, shall we say, flash back photos from their high school days.”
“So, that will be fun.”
“The fun of the show is that it’s unscripted,” Little said. “And all I can say that with Clint Bowyer back in the Chase that will be a big hit because he just takes over and pokes fun at every other driver.”
“So, we’ll have some fun with Clint,” Little continued. “He is a loose cannon and has ADD as well.”
“I will use him to try to pull out things from Dale Junior, Matt Kenseth and the guys that are a little more quiet.”
Little acknowledged that she often does not have to look far for roasting inspirations, especially given her relationship with many of the drivers in the Chase. For example, she already has a bit of fodder to use on the current point’s leader in the Chase hunt.
“Obviously I’m covering the whole Chase so there are things during the final ten races that I’ll jot down and bring up so we can laugh about it,” Little said. “For instance, last week I ran back to interview Brad Keselowski right when he crawled out of his car.”
“So, he gets out of his race car and his phone falls out of his pocket,” Little continued. “And I’m like, ‘Did you just have your phone with you in the car? And he picked it up and said, ‘Of course I did,’
“And I looked at the screen and it was on Twitter.”
“So obviously he’s not tweeting from the car but he’s reading Twitter under all the caution laps that we had last week,” Little said. “So, things like that, we can bring up and have fun with.”
Little has had too many favorite moments in the NASCAR After the Lap event to count, but her highlight was a moment that happened just last year.
“One thing that really stands out was Jeff Gordon break dancing,” Little said. “That was a highlight.”
“It was peer pressure from the other drivers to get him to do it,” Little continued. “He did not want to do it but he came out and broke it down.”
While every moment of the event is interesting, Little said that what makes the event so special is that it is completely candid.
“These guys sit up there with a beer bottle in hand and it’s like having a fire side chat with the drivers,” Little said. “You might hear some swear words or some salty language but it’s just a casual, fun, ‘have at it’ time with the guys.”
“We’ve been through 36 races and all the fans have seen them interviewed, but this is so different,” Little continued. “They are up close and personal with the guys, watching them all interact.”
“These fans are so connected with their drivers and to see the drivers interact with each other is so much fun.”
Although the drivers are usually so scheduled, with multiple appearances at track, Little said that they absolutely enjoy the NASCAR After the Lap event because it is so relaxed, quick and fun.
“I think they really do get into it,” Little said. “The guys get to drive their race cars down the Vegas strip and they always have funny stories after that.”
“Then they come to us and there is a green room where they are all together,” Little continued. “There is beer flowing and they are already busting on each other at that point.”
“This event is just fun for them to kick back, make fun of each other and laugh at each other and themselves,” Little said. “They don’t have to be on guard and be so careful about mentioning all their sponsors.”
Little also enjoys being able to let her own hair down a bit during NASCAR After the Lap, giving herself a chance to leave the seriousness of the racing season behind.
“It’s fun for me to show another side of my personality, especially being loose and funny,” Little said. “I’m out of the fire suit and just get to be me.”
“I show our relationship and this is a good time for them to poke fun at me as well,” Little continued. “It’s just all in good fun.”
“That’s special for me as well.”
Little said another special aspect about NASCAR After the Lap is that it takes place right in her home town, giving her a bit of a chance to mix her family with friends and NASCAR racing. This year, however, she has plans right after the event involving one of NASCAR’s most recognizable names.
“Since I’m here in my hometown, it is special,” Little said. “It’s fun to mix family and friends.”
“My brother-in-law is marrying Danica Patrick’s sister on December 1st so I have to get on the plane right after the event and go to a wedding this year.”
An aspect of NASCAR After the Lap that has really taken off is the interaction on social media.
“We saw that last year how Facebook and Twitter were so involved in the event,” Little said. “And this year there will be an element where the funniest tweets of the year by the drivers will be showcased.”
“So, we will really be incorporating social media for sure.”
The event will also be streamed live on NASCAR.com and will be broadcast live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
Finally, Little acknowledged that the event was special for two other reasons, one that it benefits charity and the other that she gets to give away some really cool prizes.
“The first year we did this, it was free to see what kind of feedback and turnout we would get,” Little said. “When it became such a great event, we started charging $20, with all the proceeds benefitting the NASCAR Foundation, a non-profit that raises funds for children’s charities all over the nation.”
“There is also a sweepstakes where one fan gets the chance to win a 2013 Ford F150 and an all expense paid trip to Las Vegas to the event,” Little continued. “Every year, it’s so much fun to meet that fan, bring them up on stage, they get to meet a driver and get their pictures taken.”
“Then, to see someone win a truck is awesome,” Little continued. “It’s always fun giving stuff away.”
“Everyone’s a fan of that.”
NASCAR After the Lap will be held on Thursday, November 29th from 5:00 to 6:30 PM at PH LIVE located in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. For more information about NASCAR After the Lap Sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola or to purchase tickets, visit www.NASCARafterthelap.com.