GET TO KNOW NEW YORK NATIVE AND NASCAR RACE HUB
CO-HOST DANIELLE TROTTA
The Daughter of a Basketball Coach, Trotta’s Road to NASCAR Was Paved with Stick-and-Ball Sports
Trotta Grew up 80 Miles from Watkins Glen, Site of This Weekend’s Race
This extended Q&A marks the 10th in a series with FOX Sports motor sports personalities to be highlighted over the next several months. NASCAR RACE HUB co-host Danielle Trotta hails from Westchester, N.Y., a suburb of New York City that lies about 80 miles from the site of this weekend’s NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES race at Watkins Glen International.
FOX SPORTS: You just returned from vacation. Where did you go and what did you do?
TROTTA: “I went down to the Florida Keys for lobster season for lobster fishing at night. Two of my friends built an underwater light structure that they attached to the bottom of a boat in very shallow water, allowing us to see lobsters walking on the ocean bottom. You need a license and are only allowed to catch a certain number per day. We’d lie belly-down on the front end of the boat, and when we spotted lobsters, we’d catch them with a net. We took our catch right from the boat to the kitchen.”
FOX SPORTS: You grew up in Westchester, N.Y., about 80 miles from Watkins Glen, this week’s NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES stop. How long did you live there and when was your first trip to Watkins Glen?
TROTTA: “I was born and raised in Westchester, a suburb just outside Manhattan. I lived there until I was 12, and then the family packed up and moved to Indiana for Dad’s job. Both sides of my family are from New York City and Westchester. We’d spend weekends and holidays with family in and around New York City but didn’t spend much time in upstate New York. So, the first time I went to Watkins Glen was to cover to the race several years ago. I really enjoyed my time there. It’s such a quaint, beautiful part of the country.”
FOX SPORTS: You had the privilege of interviewing Sherry Pollex, Martin Jr.’s longtime girlfriend who has battled ovarian cancer, a few weeks ago at Sonoma for the second time this season. What was your biggest take-away from that day with her?
TROTTA: “The FOX NASCAR producers had one person in mind for me to feature on the FOX Daytona 500 pre-race show, and that was Sherry Pollex. She was great. So, five months later at Sonoma, it was so cool to bring everything full circle and conclude FOX’s portion of the season with Sherry. She’s genuine and strong, and her positive spirit is infectious. A part of the story viewers didn’t see was us walking past several large cherry trees after we shot in the vineyards. Sherry was so full of excitement picking and eating the delicious cherries. We spent time underneath the trees, savoring each bite and laughing like little girls. Sherry truly finds joy in each moment that she’s alive and healthy. She also educates me on health and nutrition. Tap water and sugar are things she strictly avoids on advice from her doctors. They aren’t good for any of our bodies, though. So, since that visit, I’ve tried hard to only drink bottled water and to avoid sweets. Unfortunately, the latter is easier said than done.”
FOX SPORTS: You competed in Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte in March, a local charity event benefitting Carolina Breast Friends. How much ballroom dance experience did you have going in and what was the most challenging and rewarding part of that experience?
TROTTA: “That was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. Logistics probably was the most challenging part. I trained for four months, and on the day of the competition, I also was hosting FOX’s XFINITY pre-race and post-race shows in Bristol and had to be back that night for the competition. Traveling by helicopter back to Charlotte was the only way to make it work, so Andy Petree was kind enough to lend his chopper and pilot services, for which I’ll forever be grateful. The best part was performing. Some drivers and crew chiefs reached out with texts right before I took the stage, which gave me confidence because my nerves were through the roof. I’m used to ‘performing’ on television, but dancing was foreign to me, and being on stage is completely different than television. I performed well, and the support I got from friends and family was incredible. Several team owners and drivers donated to Carolina Breast Friends, which was awesome. I’m in the process now of recruiting NASCAR folks for next year’s performance. I’ll keep everyone posted on who we get. Dancing has become an outlet for me and a great way to stay in shape. It’s something I want to continue for a long time.”
FOX SPORTS: You worked the FOX NFL sidelines last year. Had that been a longtime goal of yours?
TROTTA: “It was a huge sense of accomplishment after spending years covering high school, college and NFL football at the local and regional levels. NFL on FOX coverage is a coveted role, so it’s an honor to be a part of that club. I’m always looking to take on new challenges, and it was something Steve Byrnes and I spent time talking about. I wish we’d had the opportunity to work a game together — Byrnes doing play-by-play and me on the sidelines. Standing on the sidelines for my first game, though, I felt Steve’s presence and knew he was watching over me.”
FOX SPORTS: Is there anything else you’d like to cover in your career that you haven’t already?
TROTTA: “I’ve covered just about every sport at a local and regional level, but there are many big events I’d like to work at the national level. I grew up the daughter of a basketball coach and avid sports fan. My dad enrolled me in tons of sports, and we watched the pros every weekend on TV. I want to do it all. Dream big and don’t be afraid to ask your bosses for a shot. My motto is, ‘The worst they can say is no.’ FOX Sports is a vast umbrella offering lots of exciting opportunities that I’m capitalizing on.”
FOX SPORTS: NASCAR RACE HUB has several rotating guest analysts who are fulltime drivers or crew chiefs in the NASCAR garage. Which of these most keeps you on your toes each time he’s in the studio?
TROTTA: “Ha! That’s easy — Chad Knaus. Anything he does, he does 100%. He wants a show rundown when he’s on set, asks lots of questions in commercial break and isn’t afraid of any topic. He’s full of ideas and opinions, and he’s fascinated by the teleprompter. He doesn’t understand how I can read from it while making it appear I’m not reading. I tell him I couldn’t read and understand his car set-up notes, so we are even. Our driver/crew chief schedule is planned out several weeks in advance. Inevitably, Joey Logano is always in studio with us right after he’s been involved in some on-track controversy. Therefore, it is fun to watch him squirm when we are playing back the video live on-air, but he’s always a good sport. Kurt Busch came on Race Hub recently, and his insight was tremendous. I made him promise me to come back soon. We even shook on it.”
FOX SPORTS: Viewers might find it strange that all the action really goes down in the makeup room. Why is that the best place for rehearsal and last-minute meetings?
TROTTA: “If those walls could talk! I wish viewers could be a fly on the wall. Without a doubt, that is where the good stuff goes down. We have a green room, but it’s rarely used. When drivers and crew chiefs come to FS1, they go straight to hair and makeup, so it’s the first place we all see each other before a show. It has always been the gathering place for water-cooler talk and last-minute editorial changes. That room is the last stop before we walk on-set, so the bosses and producers know where to find us. Producers tell the guests what we are discussing on the show that day, and a conversation naturally ensues about what they’d like to talk about before we go on air. We want to give them an open forum to discuss what’s on their minds whenever possible.”