Today, 12 NASCAR drivers will come together for an unscripted, unfiltered meeting with fans at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel.
The event, After the Lap, is the jewel in the NASCAR Champion's Week crown and moderator Jamie Little expects it to be a free-for-all. Last year, one driver outed another for wearing green underwear. Someone threatened to flash his washboard abs. There were jokes about marriage, jokes about divorce, and plenty of jokes about fighting and one another's driving.
And Little can't wait.
"This is their time to have fun, that's what this is all about. We laugh about mistakes during the season, joke, just have a good time," says Little, ESPN's pit reporter for NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series.
Her job as moderator is to ensure things run smoothly, that barbed quips don't get too sharp and questions aren't too crazy. Fans, she says, will get to know the 12 Chase drivers in ways they didn't before.
But what about the woman with the microphone? Since her focus will be on helping fans become more familiar with the drivers, here's a primer on Little, a Nevada native, Las Vegas resident and 1996 graduate of Green Valley High School.
Little, 33, was born in Lake Tahoe to a showgirl mother and a father who was a working musician. They divorced when Little was 5 and for the next 10 years, until her mother remarried, it was just the two of them. Little was a headstrong, independent child, says her mother, Laura Thomas, and a creative one at that.
"When she was 6 or 7, she came and woke me up and said: 'Good morning, Mommy. I'm having a garage sale.' She had things from the house laid out and the garage door open," recalls Thomas, who had a 10-year career as a dancer. "She was never dull."
The mother and daughter duo moved to Las Vegas in 1991 so that Thomas could start a new career at a jewelry store. When Little was 13, she got involved in motocross racing with some friends from school. She wasn't a serious student, she says, but loved horses and racing. At 15, she took all of her horse posters off of her bedroom walls and replaced them with Supercross racing posters.
That should have served as a harbinger of things to come, but Little didn't even think of sports broadcasting until months after graduating from high school.
That's when Little's independent streak flared up again. She wanted to become a model. Her mother, who had been a model and a dancer, wanted her to go to college. They compromised.
At 18, Little moved into a house her parents owned in Southern California, where she pursued modeling gigs and took a few college classes. About six months later, she attended a Supercross race in San Diego. That's where she saw a guy, the owner of Supercross.com, with a microphone filming an interview. It became a light bulb moment in Little's life, that time when she realized her calling.
"I went up to him and said, 'This is what I want to do,' " Little recalls.
He invited her to come along on races, where she learned the ins and outs of field reporting and sports broadcasting. Little enrolled in San Diego State's journalism program and graduated in 2001.
Again, that independent nature came into play after college, when Little called Rich Feinberg, a producer at ESPN. At the time, Feinberg was the lead coordinating producer for the X Games.
"Jamie reached out to me in hopes of getting the opportunity to be an on-air commentator," says Feinberg, now ESPN's vice president of motor sports.
To say Little was persistent "is a bit of an understatement," he says. "There was a series of résumés, voice mails, a continuous knocking on the door, if you will."
He decided to give her a shot on the X Games, and, as they say, the rest is history.
In 2006, she joined ESPN's NASCAR team. Little covers about 38 races a year, meaning she's on the road most of the year. During a race, she's zipping through pit row in her protective fire suit, interviewing drivers and pit crews, and taking notes on the race. NASCAR, she says, is a lifestyle.
"I fell in love with the stories of the athletes," Little says of her motivation for becoming a pit reporter. "People ask if I want to go into the booth. I say 'no.' If I couldn't be a pit reporter, I'd rather move on."
Little possesses seemingly unlimited energy and an incredible work ethic, Feinberg says.
"She's also a lot of fun to be around. She is just a positive person ... and is always offering new ideas, throwing out creative things for consideration," Feinberg says. "I'm very, very proud of her. I feel that everything she has achieved, she has earned it. I'm glad she talked me into giving her opportunity."
Last year, Little married Cody Selman, former manager for driver Kyle Busch. They moved to Las Vegas a few months ago to be closer to Little's mother and stepfather. Now they're planning a family. Being pregnant won't interfere with her pit row duties, though.
She says she'll just get a maternity fire suit.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at email@example.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @StripSonya on Twitter.