Motorsports Strategy Group
NASHVILLE SINCE BIRTH, 2013
Jason Rittenberry was born and raised in Clarksville, TN. After 17 years running some of the biggest events and venues in motorsports in the world, he’s bringing his work back home to Nashville.
Though it’s a bit of a dream career, Jason fell into it by accident. “I didn’t go to school for that, didn’t grow up a huge race fan, didn’t set out necessarily to be in motor sports,” he says. He was working for Nextel and went to a sponsorship meeting at the NASCAR track in Memphis. “The track had just been bought out by a publicly-traded company and they were looking to add to their staff,” he says. “They ended up giving me a shot to come on board as a director of sales and marketing, and they had dangled the carrot of, there may be some other possibilities down the road for you.”
“Six weeks later, they promoted me to Vice President General Manager,” he continues. “So I’m 25, six weeks in the business, and now I’m the General Manager of a NASCAR track that seats 80,000 people. I was thrown into it and I had to learn, but I made a lot of mistakes my first couple years.”
The role set the trajectory for Jason in motorsports. “I owe pretty much my entire career to that company and that man individually,” he says of the CEO who gave him that shot. “I’ve had some great opportunities, great experiences and been very fortunate to be at the right place and the right time several times throughout my career.”
“About six or eight weeks after they promoted me we had our first NASCAR event, and when I walked out on that stage for opening ceremonies to welcome the 60-plus thousand fans and to say thank you for coming … that moment is really one I’ll never forget. That’s the day I realized this is what I’m going to do. It may not may not be here in Memphis, it may not be NASCAR, it may not be even motorsports, but putting on events, providing an experience for those fans, is what I’m gonna do the rest of my life. And that’s what I’ve done since.”
Jason’s career is pretty illustrious; he’s run everything from NASCAR and drag racing tracks to Formula 1 in Austin to all of the state-owned venues for Kentucky, which included two convention centers, two arenas, and the Kentucky State Fairs. He spent a lot of his time on planes, managing a variety of pieces. “At one company I had seven different racetracks in seven different states and two touring shows out at once in the year,” he says. He’s also had some pretty cool moments; running Circuit of the Americas in Austin, he ran America’s only Formula 1 event. The year he was there, they hosted 168,000 people for race day, 80,000 of whom stayed post-race to watch Elton John perform. “To be in the podium and winner’s circle for a Formula 1 race and then to go from there and an hour later I’m standing on stage with Elton John… that’s probably the pinnacle of my career,” he says.
Now, he’s bringing it home, launching Motorsports Strategy Group at the start of 2018. “It’s scary,” he says. “It’s scary to walk away from a career, it’s scary to walk away from guaranteed income and a salaried job with all the benefits, to now that I’m here on my own, it’s all on me, it’s eat what you kill.”
With MSG, he’s excited to be back in the trenches for a variety of clients, from concerts and festivals to creating events for race tracks. He’s also bringing some of Nashville’s talent and business to new markets along the way.
“You miss the front lines,” he says of being a CEO, and having time taken by finances, budgets, insurance, legal, and people management. “You miss the events, you miss being out there talking to people. Even as a CEO I spent as much time as I could at the event. I wanted to be there, talking to the fans, walking around the facility.”
Check out what’s next for MSG on their website
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