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A chat with Krista Voda

Krista Voda, a Clinton, Iowa, native, returns to her home state this weekend for the Lucas Oil 200 NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series race.

Krista Voda hosts NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series races on Speed TV.

Krista Voda hosts NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series races on Speed TV.

She hosts Trucks Series race coverage on Speed TV. Earlier this week she took some time to talk motorcycle scars, UNI football and women in broadcasting, among other things. Here are the highights from that interview:

How do you make sure you’re not seen as just a pretty face, or eye candy on the sidelines?
The nice thing now, for females now, for broadcasting, it’s not so much a novelty anymore. 25 years ago it wasn’t that way, and they were hired more for their looks. Now, you couldn’t get by on that, and thank goodness because I’m wearing a ballcap and no makeup. I would be in trouble if that were a prerequisite for my job. It’s not exactly glamorous most of the time. That’s what nice. I wouldn’t want that to be part of my job. I wouldn’t want to be known as the best female reporter. I just want to be the best reporters. I’m just as guilty. If a female pops up on a game, I think, she better know what she’s talking about. My reason for that is different. I don’t want that to be the stereotype. Just because you’re female you don’t know your information. It’s a double edged sword. If you’re the only female in a group of reporters you’re going to get the first question just because you’re different, but at the same time, if it’s a stupid question, you’re not going to get a second…. It doesn’t bother me, It’s not why I got into this deal. If I didn’t expect that or wasn’t ready to prove myself, then you really don’t belong here anyway.

Do you think sideline reporters are necessary?
I hope they’re needed because otherwise I’m probably out of a job. I think it is more needed in football because you’ve got guys like Belichick, because things are so guarded and there are so many more gatekeepers. But you know, I can see the defensive line coach screaming and yelling and throwing his clip board in the air. I can’t necessarily hear the words that he said, but I can relay the information based on his mannerisms. I can say these guys are getting their butts chewed out right now because they really screwed up there. I can relay information because I have a better position than the people at home and that’s my job, that they get to come out on the field as much as possible. You’re also able to talk to these people all weekend. I can talk to coaches, crew chiefs, tire guys and shock guys, and we can get information all weekend long, and I can piggyback that and build a case and build stories that apply to the race. I hope that my job, I can supply information to viewers that they wouldn’t get. I love doing that. In fact, writing is probably my favorite part of the job. I love doing Wind Tunnel and Speed Report so much because I get to craft the angles and the trends and the stories any way I want to.

Does Iowa deserve a NASCAR Sprint Cup race?
It’s hard because based on fan support and and fan loyalty and amenities that the track provides, it definitely does. But the problem is what sort of media exposure the track provides that you can draw from. That’s why they have races in places like California. It doesn’t draw the fan support or loyalty, but it does have the media exposure. It’s not the best track to go to for racing. But they are able to get some Hollywood people there, and that’s a draw. And that’s one of the reasons NASCAR has been able to grow so much is because of things like that. So you can’t really turn your back on that. But for true hardcore racing fans, it’s not the best place. Places like Richmond and Iowa, and Iowa is a very similar track, and everyone has raved about that track for years. I think that’s why everyone loves Iowa, especially with the trucks series, because we don’t race there anymore. I think after it’s done, the drivers in the trucks series are going to love Iowa even more than Richmond. When I was back here at the Iowa State fair with Ron Hornaday and Ricky Carmichael, we saw guys walking around wearing racing T-shirts. They didn’t know we were here, they weren’t wearing them for us. They were just big race fans. The one drawback and the one thing that we have going against us is that obviously, being in Iowa, college football is huge, and it’s opening weekend for college football. But the track didn’t get a choice. NASCAR called and said this is the one weekend you can get. But you don’t want to turn your back on that, and turn down that opportunity.

Why should people watch the Trucks Series?

Obviously, I’m spoiled because I enjoy it and I get to cover it every week. It’s a series I’m very biased towards. To me it provides great racing. The races are shorter, so there’s no time to look away, because something’s always happening. If the drivers make a mistake they’re really out of contention. It’s like a sprint. It’s like watching Usain Bolt in the 100 dash versus watching a marathon. Just the way the nature of the way the trucks race. They race side by side and they beat and bang against each other. We don’t have a Chase. Guys like Jimmy Johnson and Tony Stewart, they’re in. they can relax and work on some things. These guys can’t do that. They’re racing for every point.

Do you ever have problems, are there Bill Belichicks on pit road, who don’t want to reveal things, or not so much? Do they mislead you, tell you they’re going to do one thing and it turns out they don’t or they do something else?
Absolutely. We get that all the time. That’s just a part of it, that’s the tap dance part of it. A lot of times you ask the guys if they can make it all the way on fuel. And they know other teams are listening. What’s great about NASCAR is the accessibility that fans have. They can get a scanner and they can listen to the conversations between the drivers and the crew chiefs and their teams. So it really is like being up in the booth with the defensive coordinator learning plays. So, because of that, they know that people are listening and it can be relayed to other teams. They have guys back in the shop that are watching the race and listening to the radios, and they are relaying that information back by text message. So because of that, they are really guarded and they play it really close to the vest. Sometimes our broadcast, maybe I’m making a reference based on someone’s body language, or maybe it’s something I see with the team. Anything I see down there, and that would be whether I’m doing a football game or a NASCAR race. That’s what it’s all about, it’s bringing them as close to the action as possible.

Do you have a favorite driver to interview?
Not necessarily. That’s where it comes back to how these guys are so marketing savvy. Because they’re trying to get their sponsor on TV. They’re not always that way, you know when they have a crash we’re the last people they wanna see. They’re all really good to work with. No one is awful to work with. Obviously, talking to them at that moment isn’t fun, but actually it’s one of the more exhilarating part of the job, to get that emotion out of them. I don’t really have a favorite, but I would say my favorite driver, or the one I’m in awe of the most would be Mark Martin. His longevity is just amazing, and what he’s been able to do this year.
He is unreal. The only person who might be more physically fit than him, and only because of age is Carl Edwards. I would put him up against probably just about everyone.

Isn’t Kyle Busch even more media savvy now?
Kyle is an interesting character. He’s really like an old school guy. I know a lot of people really like to hate him. But I don’t know what we’d do without him, because you have to have a villain in the sport. Dale Earnhardt was that guy. There were so many people that didn’t like Dale Earnhardt because he was a hard-nosed competitive racer. Even Dale Jarrett, somebody everyone loves now because he’s retired, was disliked. Rusty Wallace was disliked. So, Kyle has those remnants of that old school driver. He’s learning to soften the edges at times. I think it’s hard for people at home to see that when he finishes second, you know, he should be happy. That’s what they think. But he’s not. Second is the worst position for him. That’s great. I kind of wish we had more of that. But I say that knowing that every time there’s a truck race or a Cup race and he finishes second, and I just sit there and go “ugh, that’s going to be my assignment, I just know it is.” You know he’s just going to be completely upset. But I think it’s refreshing to have a villain. I think Kyle likes that and thrives on it. I just found out this week, I’m back home in the Quad-Cities area, and I found out that my grandmother is not a Kyle Busch fan. She just sees the competitiveness and she wishes he would be nicer to people. She doesn’t understand why he can’t be nicer to people.

Does UNI have a chance against Iowa this weekend?
Until I saw the suspensions, their running game is definitely hurting. But to go in as a Panther as an alum. You always think you have a chance, and they have an incredible program. I root for the Hawkeyes any other week of the year. But this one, I’ll tell you this, I did not pack a gold shirt, I packed a purple shirt to wear Saturday.

What’s the future for you? What’s next, would you want to do something like Wind Tunnel?
I love doing studio shows. It’s a catch-22, because I love doing both. I love doing the studio shows because I love doing the writing. And I love doing events because I’m out in the action. So if I didn’t do one, I’d really miss it. I really count my blessings because I’ve been able to do almost exactly what I wanted to. There’s one event that I would love to do that I haven’t been able to do, is the Olympics, so that’s still something I’d love to accomplish.

How often do you get back to the Q-C area?
I get back about once or twice a year, not as much as I’d like. I root for the River Kings and the River Queens in anything, I always follow them. It was nice to see the story in the Times last week about how competitive the volleyball is in the MAC. My old coach is still there in Clinton, and it’s just great to see them do well.

How is the motorcycle riding going? How often do you get out on the bike?

I love it. I’m awful on an ATV. But I’m much better on a little dirt bike. But I haven’t gotten to ride it as much…. I actually have a couple of scars. So my riding isn’t good enough to prevent injury. I haven’t mastered any skills, but it’s still fun to do.

1 comment to A chat with Krista Voda

  • Barry

    Krista, How are you liking the Pgh are? It is a well kept secret as a city that offers a lot and one of the friendliest in the nation. You’ve seem to taken to the burgh well, since ya know the steelers are the STILLERS?

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