She’s one of the most knowledgeable reporters in motor sports, an author, a restaurateur and the daughter of a showgirl, but all people want to know when they meet Jamie Little is about the fight at Texas Motor Speedway.
She was in the middle of the melee between Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski in November – close enough to hear fists on flesh – and she got there because she could sense it coming.
“I knew something was going to happen,” says Little, who got her start in motor sports broadcasting more than a decade ago with the old Charlotte-based Speed Channel, now Fox Sports 1. “I’ve been in enough of these brawls to know what’s going to go down.”
When she saw Keselowski’s car rub Gordon’s at the finish, she went down to pit row because she figured something was going to happen. Then Gordon stopped his car on pit road next to Keselowski’s and climbed out.
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“I was going after an interview with Brad. Jeff comes over, so I stick my mic in there very subtly to get what he had to say. Most of what we got wasn’t airable.”
She didn’t see the shove that started it all, but instantly she was ringside.
“If I weren’t tall and didn’t have my elbows up, I would have gone down.”
Little, 36, wasn’t concerned about her own safety. She’s 5 feet 10 inches – taller than some of the drivers – and she’s a trained fighter who knows self-defense. She loves a good brawl.
“I like fights, I love emotion,” says Little. “I always manage to find my way to the emotional drivers.”
As a tomboy growing up in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Little would sneak into the lighting booth to see her mother perform. “I grew up around a lot of dancers. It was an interesting life.”
Her father was a professional drummer – and still is at age 72 – and her parents divorced when she was young. When she was 13, she and her mother moved to Las Vegas, where Little developed a passion for dirt biking.
She did some Supercross broadcasting while a student at San Diego State University and, after graduating in 2001, pursued a career in motor sports reporting. She went on to establish herself as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable in the business. Daytona Supercross led to the X Games, the IndyCar Series and NASCAR. She was the first female pit reporter for TV at the Indianapolis 500 in 2004.
She and Danielle McCormick, Discovery Channel’s “Turbo Expert,” published a book three years ago, “Essential Car Care for Women,” which is what Little calls a glove-compartment guide to taking care of the car.
Little married Cody Selman, a medical implants marketer, in 2010 and they have a 2-year-old son, Carter, who is in Daytona with her. She and Selman have a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop franchise in Las Vegas, where they now live.
After spending 13 years at ESPN/ABC, Little was hired away by Fox last fall, which was considered a big get for the network. She is making her motor sports reporting debut for Fox this month at Daytona.
“Once I got married and had a baby, home life really started tugging at me. Traveling was all I’ve known since I was 21. I’ve traveled 35 weeks a year since then. With Fox, it’ll be a third less. I wanted to be a mom a little bit more.”
When coverage of the Daytona 500 begins 1 p.m. Sunday, she’ll be the only woman on the broadcast, which includes Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds in the booth and Chris Neville, Vince Welch and Matt Yocum. Little will make history as the first female TV pit reporter to work both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 on live network television.
Brittney Johnson joins the WSOC (Channel 9) reporting staff March 30 from the NBC affiliate station in Little Rock, Ark., where she spent five years. Johnson, who grew up in west Charlotte, is a graduate of Howard University with a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. … Linda Nester moves up to assistant news director at Channel 9. …
After 14 years at WCNC (Channel 36), morning host Ira Cronin is leaving for the NBC affiliate in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he will be morning host. Cronin started at WCNC in 2001 as sports anchor and later moved to mornings. …
Talent shuffle at WNKS-FM (“Kiss” 95.1) as morning host Steve Maney is joined by LauRen Merola and Roy Brown, replacing P.J. “Drex” Rener and Cassiday Proctor who left the pop station last month for a job in Atlanta. Merola has done TV in her native Pittsburgh and sports radio in Miami and on Charlotte's WZGV-AM (ESPN 730). Brown comes from a station in Roanoke, Va. … Other changes at “Kiss” include Anna Sorrentino, who goes by the air name Riley, taking over the midday shift. A.J. Anelli, who had worked for Kiss in production and promotion before taking jobs in Jacksonville and Washington, N.C., takes over the night shift from Nick Felton, who used the air name Jay Sparxx and who has taken another job outside radio in Charlotte. …
WBTV’s (Channel 3) Steve Crump will present his documentary “Strength from Selma” at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Main Library on North Tryon Street.