IMSA Spotlight: Jamie Howe
Broadcaster: Fox Sports
How did you get your start in broadcasting?
“I got my start in broadcasting when I was in high school. My high school, Brookwood High School (Snellville, Ga.), had a full lottery-funded broadcast department with multiple edit bays, remote video capabilities, and an actual studio with control room.
“We also worked with the CNN Student Bureau and once a month a producer from CNN would come in to critique the pieces we assembled there. It gave me the foundation of knowing I wanted to be involved in the full process a story takes, from the planning to the production to the on-air portion.
“I knew I wanted to pursue a career in broadcast television but I always assumed it would be in news.”
When did motorsports generally, and sports car racing in particular, become an area of interest for you?
“When I graduated from high school I was coaching a swim team. A dad who had kids on the team “worked in racing.” He was the VP of Broadcasting for the American Le Mans Series, John Evenson.
“He invited me to come to the spring race at Road Atlanta (2003) to see what a live television compound looked like. That was when I fell in love with racing and sports television.
“Patti Wheeler of Wheeler TV was on site that weekend and her production company hired me as a runner for the remainder of that season. I filled coolers, hung schedules, ran errands, delivered lunches, took out trash, you name it.
“I did that for two complete seasons before moving to a stage managing roll in the booth, then to field production for features.
“I was also sent out with some of the revolving reporters that would come through for the network shows because I knew everyone, so people like Tracy Wolfson, Shannon Spake and Krista Voda were big influences on me.
“From there I eventually got the nerve to ask for a chance and someone got the nerve to give me a chance on air.
“I learned about racing, specifically sports car racing as I learned about TV. Once I went to my first sports car race I was hooked and knew what I wanted to do.”
What do you do in the buildup to an event to prepare for a broadcast?
“I make a new event notebook for each and every event I cover. I used to do them all by hand on paper, highlighting, labeling, writing a different page for every team or driver depending on the event.
“Last year, I started using an iPad. When I write things down I remember it, so the handwriting element is the important part to me.
“I go through the technical bulletins to see what changes there are, go through the point scenarios, team press releases, news stories, etc and write down highlights in my book.
“Then, on site, I walk around to my teams and gather information as the weekend unfolds. For sports car racing we split pit lane in half so that we only focus on half of the field.
What is the most memorable racing broadcast that you have been a part of?
“My first 24 Hours of Le Mans was in 2010 and I was so nervous. I had never been to Europe and I had no idea what to expect. Plus all of the drivers I was unfamiliar with and the cars and the teams and the rules.
“I studied as much as I could and Im pretty sure I hardly slept the entire time I was over there.
“It may not have been the most exciting in terms of close battles but for me personally, that was my most memorable just because of how nervous I was.”
How challenging is it during the racing season for you and your husband Bryan Sellers to strike the right balance between work and family life?
“It is an ever-changing struggle to find that balance. Our children are so young that their demands change rapidly. As soon as its figured out, things change.
“The racing work schedule typically means travel out on Wednesday or Thursday and travel home on Sunday or Monday. So we are home Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of most weeks.
“Between NHRA and IMSA I travel most of the time between January and November and my husband too. So, when there is an odd weekend off we try to do something special as a family.
“We just got back from our first family vacation as a family of four and while it wasn’t the same relaxing vacation of the past, it was so special to all be together just enjoying the summer.
“The kids do travel to all of the IMSA races and the baby has been to many NHRA events this season also. Otherwise it would be too difficult to be away so often.
“We are very fortunate that when they are not traveling with us they are with family so they are still getting the family life. “