Interview with Miss Sprint Cup, Kim Coon
Think Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon is just another pretty face? Think again. NASCAR fans will recognize Kim from her frequent appearances in Victory Lane, congratulating the winning driver after NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and sharing in the raucous celebrations. But, this Miss Sprint Cup – one of three wearing the familiar yellow and black Sprint firesuit this season – also has a bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting and a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications.
The Miss Sprint Cup program was established in 2008, when wireless communications giant Sprint became the title sponsor of NASCAR’s top-tier racing series. Kim is the most recognizable of the three current Miss Sprint Cups, representing the brand around the race track and delivering behind-the-scenes insights for NASCAR fans.
Q. How long have you been Miss Sprint Cup?
A. This is my third year.
Q. Tell me a little bit about what your responsibilities are.
A. I think most people recognize us from Victory Lane. That’s the fun part of it – we get to celebrate with the drivers – but it’s so much more. A lot of it is very marketing-based and PR-based. We’re with fans all the time. A lot of our job is to promote the sport and be with the fans, because we’re bringing them closer to the sport they love. We’re in the garage and the pits social networking on Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook, we have close to 1.3 million fans. Our responsibilities are far and above Victory Lane. I think combined we do a total of close to 600 appearances a year – everything from stuff for Sprint to stuff for the tracks and for sponsors. It’s definitely a lot of responsibility.
Q. How did you first hear about the opening for the job and what was the selection process like?
A. Everybody asks me how I found out about it and I don’t exactly remember. I believe I looked it up on Facebook, but I don’t remember what sparked me to do it. I had friends that worked in the sport on the pit crews, so I can’t pinpoint what inspired me to actually go after it. But the job process is just like any other job process. We go in and we meet with a board of people that you work with every day once you get the job. There are very typical job interview questions, but then there is another portion where it is very talent-based, so they like to see you on camera and know that you can do interviews, radio stuff, and interact with fans. There is a mobile marketing display at the track every weekend, so they like to know that you have personality and can get people fired up. It’s a regular job interview in a sense, but there are other elements of it, too.
Q. It sounds like you were a NASCAR fan before you got the job, which probably helped. Did they ask you NASCAR questions during the interview?
A. There is a quiz at the beginning and it’s not essential that you necessarily know everything, but I do like to tell people that I got all the bonus questions correct and everything else right; I think I ended up with like 102 on it, which I like to brag about (laughs). It’s definitely helpful to know about the sport. I was a fan before and I had friends that worked in the sport, but having this job has given me a greater appreciation for the sport and the teams. The drivers get so much attention, but people forget that there are hundreds of people behind the scenes that put the cars on the track every weekend. We liken it to the NFL – the quarterback gets a lot of attention, but he can’t win the game without the defense and all the other players.
Q. Tell me a little bit about your college education.
A. My undergrad degree is in Broadcasting, so I get to actually use that in a lot of elements, whether it’s TV or radio or driver interviews. My grad degree is in Integrated Marketing Communications – so a mix of advertising, PR and marketing. This is a very marketing-oriented job, because we’re marketing the sport and we’re marketing Sprint products and services. I tell people this job was basically molded perfect for me because I get to use both of my degrees, and I worked in pro sports before, so it’s just a good melding of all my schooling and my experiences.
Q. People know you as Miss Sprint Cup, but tell me a little bit about your personal life. Married? Kids? Where do you live?
A. I’m single. No kids either. I live in Charlotte, but I was born and raised in Florida. I love to bake. I like to renovate my house, so I’ve been working on doing it room by room – I’m working on my living room right now. I’m a big movie buff, so I like to go see all the movies that are out. I like to read a lot, too. My goal actually for 2013 is to read 55 books.
Q. Aside from ‘Miss Sprint Cup,’ what would you call your position? Would it be spokesperson?
A. Yes, I would say it’s a spokesperson. A lot of people accidentally say spokesmodel, but I think it’s a lot more than that because we do have essentially a speaking role and we’re voicing what is so great about the sport. It’s so much more than just a spokesmodel. Spokesperson is probably a better description – but, then again, there are just so many other elements and random responsibilities. Even since I’ve had the job, from my first year to this being my third, the responsibilities have grown and I’ve had more opportunities to do things that I didn’t get to do my first year. Once people realize what an asset we are to the sport, they want to take advantage of that and have us do other things.
Q. You mentioned the role of Miss Sprint Cup in Victory Lane. Is there anything that you’ve seen during Victory Lane celebrations that maybe the fans don’t get to see?
A. The fans only get a small portion of it. They get the driver getting out of the car and celebrating and the champagne and the confetti flying, which is so much fun. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in that and to be excited because the crew is excited and the sponsors and the driver and it just radiates off of them. Then – the fans have heard about it – but there’s the ‘hat dance.’ The drivers and the teams have to show respect to the sponsors that have put so much into getting the cars on the track.
We take a photo in Victory Lane and for every sponsor that’s on the car, there’s a matching hat. Everybody puts on a hat and we do a ‘one, two, three, whoo!’ and we take a picture and then switch hats. On top of that, the driver has media responsibilities after the race as well, so he will spend time in the media center. Then, for Miss Sprint Cup, we’re working from Victory Lane, too. We’ve got our Sprint phones out, we’re social networking, getting pictures and inside info for the fans that they’re not going to see somewhere else – at least, they’re not going to see immediately. We’re give them immediate access to it.
Q. You’ve probably gotten sprayed with every type of liquid that people can imagine in Victory Lane.
A. Yes! Champagne, Gatorade, beer, energy drinks – you know, you love every driver for a different reason and it doesn’t matter who is in Victory Lane because it’s always exciting, but you kind of wince a little when it’s a beer sponsor that wins because you know you’re going to leave the track smelling like beer. It’s kind of funny, but it’s still enjoyable.
Q. If some of our readers think they might want to apply to be Miss Sprint Cup, what career advice do you have for them?
A. If you go to our Facebook page, there is information on how to submit yourself for the position and I encourage everybody to try. There are hundreds of people that apply each year and they really want a good pool of candidates to select the best people. The minimum age is 21 because they like you to have that maturity and to be able to handle yourself. If you’re not 21 yet, work towards finishing your degree, because they want you to have an undergraduate degree. Get as much experience as you can in terms of doing stuff one-on-one with people. They like you to be personable and willing to talk to people, so if you’re an introvert, maybe work on socializing a little bit more. It’s very important to stay in school and finish your degree.
Q. How can people learn more about you and the Miss Sprint Cup program?
A. Our Facebook page is Facebook.com/MissSprintCup and our twitter handle is @MissSprintCup, so they can follow us and learn more about us. Sprint.com/speed is a great resource, too. All of those are great and I encourage fans to check them out.