Kymberly Booth Higgs: Motorsports Television Producer

My home is filled with equal parts Hot Wheels and baby dolls. I navigate strewn-
about Lego rockets and porcelain tea sets while teaching my two daughters how to change diapers, change the oil in their dad’s truck, change the channel to something
of quality, and above all, to change preconceptions.

My sister and I did not grow up at ballet recitals or princess parties, but, instead, at
the racetrack from the time we were tiny, enjoying weekend after weekend all over
the nation with our whole family together, either racing or watching. Our parents
were always encouraging our strengths and were attuned to our innate abilities.
Early on, they recognized and fostered my desire to be a journalist, to tell stories
that I thought deserved to be heard.

Eventually, I managed to combine those two interests of auto racing and journalism
to form a rewarding (and exciting) career in sports television. I have traveled the
world to produce sporting events for the past 21 years: the Indianapolis 500, the
Olympics, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Daytona 500, the Formula 1 US Grand Prix,
the US Nationals, the X Games, the Burton US Open, and the list goes on ...

When I was 17 on a family vacation for World of Speed at the Bonneville Salt Flats,
my dad challenged me to take the opportunity to write about what I saw and heard,
interview the intriguing characters risking it all for a land speed record, and then try
to sell my work to automotive magazines. I did, and they bought.
From there, I continued to write freelance articles for the auto racing industry
through the rest of high school and while at college. I also started working for an
NHRA Pro Stock team as their marketing and public relations director, which then
lead to numerous other similar opportunities with other race teams–all while I was
still a student.

On one assignment for a magazine feature, I met an impressive group of talented
producers from a production company also covering the same event (Lyn St. James’
Driver Development Program) for a segment on ESPN’s Scholastic Sports America.
They encouraged me to try my hand at the television side of the business, and they
offered me an internship at Lingner Group Productions in Indianapolis, during
which I learned more than any college course could ever hope to cover.

Just before graduation, the course of my future was determined over appetizers at
Rick’s Boatyard Café in Indianapolis.During the month of May in 1998, I had been working for Pennzoil Panther Racing, and Pennzoil was paying to fly me back and forth in first class to Indy from college in Missouri. The night after the 500, I had a meeting with Doug Boles, now President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Terry Lingner, now Indycar Producer for
NBC, at Rick’s. Doug made his case for me to stay working for the race team, but
Terry claimed that in TV, “We win every week.” After coming off a couple of seasons
working for teams that sometimes even struggled to qualify, I was ready for some
wins.

I spent the next five years soaking in the immeasurable creativity, constant
innovation, indescribable camaraderie, persevering work ethic, and pure joy with
which every employee at Linger Group pursued their passion. Sometimes I would go
for months at a time without a day off, but someone else was paying for me to see
the world, one weekend and one racetrack at a time. There were dues to be paid,
and the young, eager storyteller in me was good for every penny.

Eventually, I left Indianapolis for the freelance television market and moved to
southern California to marry an Air Force officer and start a family. At the time, there were very few women working in motorsports who lived this crazy on-the-
road life and had children, but I was determined to try. Now, I am pleased to know at least a dozen women with whom I share stories of tiny babies in hotel rooms and on
cross-country airplanes, finding last-minute childcare in random cities,
remembering ear protection for toddlers when they come to the racetrack, and
never knowing whose racecar you’re going to find your preschooler strapped into
next.

Because of my chosen profession, and due in huge measures to both the incredible
people who make up the motorsports industry and to my husband’s unwavering
support, my daughters have experienced more travel, more variety, more exposure
to new and fascinating adventures in their short lives than most people hope to in a
lifetime.

I have been fortunate to tell the stories of both dominant championships and
miserable heartbreak. I have learned from patient pioneers of this business and
influenced green rookies. I have witnessed the new life of fresh talent and
experienced the agony of watching our sport take one of our own. I have produced
television on spectacular beaches, in barren deserts, in the European countryside,
on towering mountaintops, and on the teeming streets of the world’s largest cities.

I have managed talented production teams from Terre Haute to Twin Ring Motegi,
Darlington to Mont Tremblant, South Boston to Le Mans. Because I have opted to
keep the scenery fresh in my career, I am fortunate to be on a first-name basis with celebrated drivers in all forms of North American motorsports: NASCAR, Indycar, NHRA, Sportscar, Off-Road, Motocross, USAC. I consider it a privilege and an honor to be the only person, man or woman, to produce television shows from each of the tracks (the paved oval, the infield road course, the dirt track and the drag strip) at several of the mega motorsports complexes in the country.

I have told the stories of shocking victors, families who have called our sport home
for four generations, severely injured drivers who have returned in triumphant
style, a young woman under high pressure and an iconic veteran who claimed
unforeseen championship together, a legendary father and son who raced together
for the first and last time, a mythical cowboy making his final stage exit, and drivers
whose long journeys took them from reviled to embraced.

Mine is a race without a clear finish line, and so the adventure continues.

As my parents did for my sister and I, my husband and I encourage our two
daughters to find their passion, to recognize what they love, and to do the hard work
to make a life for themselves that will be both fulfilling and full of adventure. It's a challenging path, but it has worked for me.

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