Ever wonder about the glamorous life of a NASCAR reporter?
Here’s how Danielle Trotta’s February went.
She flew to Florida prior to the Daytona 500, and was supposed to return to Charlotte for a few days before the race. But a winter storm grounded the Fox Sports 1 crew in Daytona, so she stayed on for the duration – with only three changes of clothes for two weeks.
Then came the pneumonia. There was no refrigerator in the room, so she kept her medicine in a hotel ice bucket.
When she finally got back to Charlotte, she found her apartment flooded.
Trotta’s not complaining – this is a big year for her on the circuit. She is co-host of Fox Sports 1’s “NASCAR Race Hub” with Adam Alexander and John Roberts, and has moved up to host of the pre-race show “NASCAR RaceDay” and “NASCAR RaceDay Xfinity.” She also handles various NASCAR specials and events.
“I worked for 10 years to get to this point,” says Trotta, 34. Her expanded duties mean she’s spending far more time at the tracks this year, rather than just anchoring shows from Fox Sports 1’s Charlotte production hub in University City.
Trotta is one of the few reporters on the beat who didn’t come up through the motorsports circuit.
After graduating from UNC Charlotte with a degree in mass communications, she landed an editing and photography job at WBTV (Channel 3) sports. She moved up to weekend sports anchor in 2007 when Kricket Morton left for the West Coast. She hosted “Sports Saturday Night” and was paired with Delano Little on Sunday night’s “The Point After with D&D.”
In 2010, she moved to Speed Channel, now Fox Sports 1, and began learning the nuts and bolts of racing in depth.
“I would say it took me two years to have a handle on the sport and the personal relationships and a personal rapport. It takes a while to earn people’s respect. Here I was the new girl coming in. I had covered NASCAR for five years at WBTV, but not at the intricate level I was doing it at Speed.”
Popular motorsports veteran Steve Byrnes, who died of cancer in April, helped mentor her, as he did so many newcomers.
“Those first two years I leaned on Steve a lot. He knew everyone. I would go to him before every interview, and he gave me great insight and advice.”
Byrnes represented the best in professionalism, Trotta says. She’s seen the video of Britt McHenry, the ESPN reporter who was suspended after berating a towing company worker while picking up her impounded car. “I’m on television and you’re in a … trailer, honey,” McHenry told the clerk. “Lose some weight, baby girl.”
Trotta says she found it appalling. “I’ve never felt that I’m better than anybody else. You treat everybody the way you want to be treated. I think Steve commanded so much respect because he gave people so much respect.”
Trotta says hard work is responsible for only part of her success. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if people didn’t help me.” Trotta says she pays it back by reaching out to help others up the ladder.
“I’m at a great place in my life. I know there are a lot of people who want to do what I do so I never take it for granted. I treat every show like it’s the last.”