Purdue - Psychology
Austin P. State University (Tennessee) - Master’s Degree, Industrial Organizational Psychology
NASCAR Week: This interview is part five in a series of five articles this week on jobs in NASCAR.
At first glance you might wonder, “Why is I Want Her Job featuring a NASCAR wife? What’s her job?” Well, Samantha Busch isn’t your typical NASCAR wife. She’s a social media maven who tweets updates about her husband, Kyle Busch (driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Camry), from his pit box during the race. But she does it her way, and will be quick to tell you that she actually gets more response from fans when she tweets what shoes she wore to the track that week.
But again, unlike your typical NASCAR wife, Samantha, who was raised in a small town, strives to be the voice of women in the sport. And her shoes aren’t Gucci our Louboutin. This girl likes to shop at TJ Maxx and wear shoes from designers like Steve Madden. “There’s a lot of women who are into racing, but they also like to shop. They like fashion. And they like affordable fashion.” And as an ambassador for female fans, Samantha created a website that features health and fitness tips, clothing at a low price, as well as videos and content that show women ways to be sexy and confident.
She also applies her business psych degree on a regular basis. When Kyle Busch Motorports (KBM) restructured its 401(k) and benefits packages, Samantha was really involved in creating strategies the company would use to create a better environment and benefits for its employees. She’ll also tell you that right now the nearly 60-employee shop is her and Kyle’s baby. “It’s growing and we’re really proud of it. We’ve built our shop from the ground up. We’re young, and we’ve made a lot of mistakes, but we’ve learned from it. It’s exciting to have a Nationwide team this year, but it’s also a little nerve-wracking.”
One lesson I've learned from where I'm at in life is that I realize how blessed I am ... And when you're given something so great you help others.
In three words, how would you describe yourself?
I would say outgoing, really caring and bubbly!
What is your day-to-day routine like? How does it differ between the season and off-season?
It all depends on the race season. Races are crazy. Kyle doesn’t cook, so I do all the cooking, feed the puppies and lay out all of his stuff while he goes to hospitalities. Then he comes back and goes to the driver’s meeting. Afterward, I meet him and we do chapel. Then we go to the hauler, have lunch, and then he goes and meets with the guys and starts racing!
We also have the truck and Nationwide teams. So, days that we're not at the track Kyle and I go to KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) and do all the stuff there that we need to take care of. During the regular season when we're going to KBM and the races, we only have three days do grocery shopping, errands, pick up dry cleaning and all those things. We also work out together in the mornings or the evenings.
What is the most rewarding aspect of sharing your pit road perspective with the fans?
Kyle and I both love little kids. And when we get to do special things for them and see their faces light up, we love it. A while ago we gave a little boy and his family pit passes. He sat on my lap at the race, and he still talks about it. Another part is with my blog. It’s very fitness and health-driven, so I get a lot of emails from girls who lost weight by reading the blog and watching the videos and they’re happy. They say that they feel like they have someone to talk to. I get emails saying my blogs have helped, and that’s really, really rewarding. My base is a lot more women than guys. And hearing their stories and trying to help them means a lot to me.
What question do fans ask you the most?
What it’s like to be married to a race car driver is everyone’s No. 1 question. It's exciting to travel and meet a lot of people, but it’s scary, too. Yesterday (during the Budweiser Shootout) it caught my breath every time. I have lots of friends who are fire fighters, and they're risking their lives, too. There’s that danger aspect there and I'm always thinking about it, and it always makes me a little nervous. It’s that whole danger aspect. It’s always in the back of your mind. Kyle and I watched the Dan Wheldon race together. We watched his car wreck. I always tell myself, "It’s safe. It’s safe." But Dan passed away, and it’s a huge wakeup call that wrecks are an exciting part but dangerous at the same time -- especially at Daytona and Talladega. I always tell Kyle, "I think you should race at 80 mph. Stick around at Martinsville speed." But he just laughs.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I just said I think about what could always happen, but there are other things, too. We’re a team owner and the economy is really rough right now. So we're always thinking about sponsorship opportunities with different sponsors and what we can activate for them. And Kyle and I are always running ideas past each other.
What is one lesson you’ve learned in life that sticks with you?
One lesson I’ve learned from where I'm at in life is that I realize how blessed I am. I came from a normal family. My dad is in construction. My mom is a nurse. When you’re given something so great you help others. I want to make women feel sexy and confident and help them. I realize I’m in a really blessed position and I try to help them. That’s what I try to do with the blog. And we have our Foundation (The Kyle Busch Foundation), and that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned -- when you’re given such a great opportunity you have to use it for good. I grew up in a small-ish town in Northwest Indiana. Before I met Kyle, I’d maybe traveled to three states, and now it’s a whirlwind experience and I'm traveling all the time. It’s really fun.
Who are your role models?
From a social media standpoint, I love Brooke Burke. I try to model my social media after what she does. I love her. She’s got her Modern Mom blog. She helps other women and puts her family first, and she’s on all these foundations and gives back to the community. From a professional standpoint, that is what I would one day want to do.
Obviously my mom and dad are my role models, too. Everybody who meets my parents love them. They’re always in the best moods. They’re just good people.
What are some of the rules you live by?
The biggest thing is to remember what a great position I’m in, and God helped put me here, so I need to do something good with it. I hope to expand our Foundation, and Kyle and I have been talking about some really cool ideas.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I definitely want to be a mom. I want to have my own workout videos and keep going with my blogs. I want to expand what I’m doing to reach more people. And our goal with KBM is to have four teams -- two in Nationwide and two in truck. (Right now KBM has one truck and one Nationwide ride.) I also want to have a great marriage, a great family -- all that stuff.
Kyle can come across to fans as being, well, a negative personality in the sport. Can you address the perception some fans have of Kyle versus who you know him to be?
Before the race it’s game time and work time. It’s no different than going up to a quarterback before the game starts. NASCAR is really unique because you have access to all the drivers all the time. He may come across sometimes like he’s being rude, but he’s got his focus on. In 10 minutes he’s getting in a car and racing 500 miles. I think that’s one big misrepresentation of him and his personality. He gets really tempered on the track because he’s out there to win. He wants to go down as being a legend in the sport before he retires. And I get it. I’m a fiery Italian. I get it, too. When he’s with me, he’s just who he is. He’s laid back and just funny. I think people never really get to see the sides I get to see. If he’s on camera and he’s not smiling, he’s thinking. It’s like a big test before college. When I take a test, I'm in test mode. And people forget what a huge task he has at hand.
How do you feel about the 2012 season now that Kyle has won the Budweiser Shootout?
Last night (the Budweiser Shootout), like I said, was just crazy. When we were back in the bus and it was just us I said, "How in the world did you catch the car like that?" He said, "I just kept going. It was just instinct." I can’t sugarcoat it; 2011 was not our favorite season. It’s time to come back. The 18 team, the crew and Dave Rogers (Kyle's crew chief) are all talented. You can be the best car and then get taken out by a lapped down car that blows a tire. Dave is confident. Kyle is confident. And the crew kicks butt all the time. We have the right structure and I hope it really is an awesome season.
After Daytona, you are heading out to Phoenix International Raceway. What's your favorite thing about the track, and some must-go places you stop at when you're in town?
I absolutely love the Phoenix and Scottsdale area. There's so much to do and see, and I’m a huge hiker. We always do that. The race track itself is a nice facility. The fans have Rattlesnake Hill. And if you go up where the hospitality buses are, there’s an amazing view. And there's always great weather. I'm also still excited about the repave because it’s very exciting for the fan. I think overall it’s a great time for the fans. If they’re there all race weekend, after practice or the race itself there’s great stuff to do and places to go eat. It’s the best of both worlds. Kyle and I love Phoenix. We actually went up there in December and just stayed for a week to get away from everything. When we get an off-week we love to go to Phoenix. Just be careful of the scorpions! I stepped on one once!
-Interview by Brianne Burrowes
Image | Courtesy of Samantha Busch