JASON RITTENBERRY, CFE | Managing Partner
Jason Rittenberry, CFE is a 17-year veteran of the motorsports industry with experience at all levels in every form of motorsports from local short track racing to NASCAR to MotoGP and Formula One. He is a proven successful marketing executive who drives organizational and revenue growth by implementing growth initiatives, new technologies and identifying inefficiencies that lead to strong, bottom-line results. A Certified Facilities Executive (CFE) with extensive expertise in all facets of business operations, live entertainment, and event management. Motivational and visionary leader, who instills and maintains a people-focused organization to ensure guests have a first-class experience. An excellent networker and well respected in the industry he has the ability to represent any brand to stakeholders & community, building partnerships and driving organizational goals. Known for having an innovative and methodical approach to event and overall company management as an entrepreneurial leader that thinks big picture.
Previously the Chief Strategy Officer for Circuit of The Americas and Austin360 Amphitheater, the only purpose-built Formula One venue in the United States. The 3.4-mile circuit hosts the world’s most prestigious sporting events, including the F1 United States Grand Prix, the MotoGP Grand Prix of The Americas, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championships Lone Star Le Mans, the FIA World Endurance Championship and ESPN’s X Games. In addition to sporting events, COTA plays host to some of the largest music events and festivals, including Elton John, Taylor Swift and Willie Nelson’s Annual 4th of July Picnic. The 1,500-acre campus is also home to the Austin360 Amphitheater – PollStar’s 2013 “Best New Major Concert Venue” and a 2014 “Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue” – and boasts impressive meeting and hospitality spaces and an iconic 25-story observation tower that offers 360-degree views of the circuit, amphitheater, and downtown Austin.
In that role Rittenberry served as part of the senior executive team and provided industry expertise and insight to each department of the Company. He was responsible for developing new business models and revenue streams for COTA and Austin360 Amphitheatre. In addition, Jason was charged with identifying new ways to bolster commercial efforts, to improve the guest experience through integration of technology and to drive efficiencies and effectiveness throughout the organization. With his experience in the motorsports and entertainment industry, Jason was also responsible for negotiating all new and returning events with the major sanctioning bodies, series’ and promoters.
Prior to his role at COTA, Rittenberry was President and Chief Executive Officer of IRG Sports + Entertainment, the privately held parent company of multiple sports and entertainment properties. IRG holdings included Palm Beach International Raceway, the Palm Beach Driving Club, Memphis International Raceway, Southwestern International Raceway, Cordova International Raceway, Maryland International Raceway, Drag Review Magazine, IHRA Productions, Rally Elite and the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA), the 45-year-old drag racing sanctioning body with 100+ sanctioned venues and two national touring series – the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series and the Sonic Rush Tour. Jason also served as Executive Producer for the motorsports TV show based on the Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series broadcast on MAVTV and NBC Sports Network.
As one of the industry’s forward-thinking executives, Rittenberry is a proven successful leader with extensive experience as a visionary leader and corporate executive. Adapt at entrepreneurial revenue generation he has managed venues that host hundreds of live events annually, developed and managed a business operation with $100M+ in revenues, navigated the acquisition of multiple sports properties and facilitated mid-eight figure strategic business development initiatives with private equity partners and credit facilities. Jason is well respected by his peers in the industry and is involved through several industry associations.
As an active industry representative, Rittenberry has served on the Road Racing Industry Council (RRIC) Board of Directors, the Louisville Sports Commission Board of Directors, the Louisville CVB Board of Directors, the Austin Sports Commission Board of Directors and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), where he currently serves in several leadership roles including: the Board of Directors, Past-Chair of the Foundation Board of Trustees, Industry Affairs Council and Leadership Development Committee. Jason previously served as Chair of the Florida Facility Managers Association (FFMA), the Palm Beach County Sports Commission Board of Directors and the Board of Advisors for the Honda Classic PGA Tournament at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens. Florida.
Rittenberry has been recognized by the Memphis and South Florida Business Journals as a Top Forty Under 40 recipient, has received the Chairman’s Citation by the International Association of Venue Managers and was awarded the first annual ‘Innovator of the Year’ award by the Racetrack Business Conference at the 2014 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Show for his innovation in the motorsports industry.
SCOTT GARDNER | Partner
Scott Gardner, Partner is a 23-year veteran of the motorsports industry and has been involved in every aspect of drag racing motorsports. As a proven industry entrepreneur, Gardner brings a unique skill set to MSG from the position of all operational sides drag racing including the sanctioning body, owning and managing multiple race tracks, and as a former drag racer himself.
Before devoting his work fulltime to MSG, Gardner was the founder of Gardner Race Track Consultants (GRTC), a consulting company for drag strips providing on-site evaluation of present methods, structures and personnel. In addition to the broad range of services provided, GRTC offered important guidance on “how” and “what” to sell sponsorship’s on, what they should be valued at, and how to write winning proposals. As a function of GRTC, Gardner took an interim General Manager Position with the new ownership group at Heartland Park Topeka (KS).
Previously the President of the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) the second largest sanctioning body in drag racing, Gardner brought back the competition format in the professional classes with The Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series in the United States and Canada. In addition Gardner oversaw a 300% increase in sponsorship revenues and double digit increases annually in the sanctioning bodies’ membership.
Gardner also owned and or co-owned and operated three drag race facilities simultaneously in the Midwest. Those facilities, Eddyville Raceway Park (IA), Cedar Falls Raceway (IA) and Cordova Dragway Park (IL) each were successful thriving businesses in their own right. Gardner also orchestrated the growth and success of the oldest continuous drag race in the world, the World Series of Drag Racing with gross sales nearing $500,000 annually at the Cordova facility. Prior to operating these facilities, Gardner served as the General Manager of Great Lakes Dragaway (WI) and Vice President of the United Drag Racers Association (UDRA).
Gardner also received prestigious numerous awards including IHRA Man of the Year and IHRA Track Operator of the year respectively. Receiving a degree in Political Science from the University of Northern Iowa, Gardner has served as Police Commissioner on a Village Board and retains an interest in politics. Married to wife Laura for 28 years they have one daughter Emily, who graduates from LSU in 2018 with a Masters Degree in Higher Education Administration.
JENNY SCHMITZ | Partner
Jenny Schmitz is a longtime event professional and well-respected industry executive who has planned and executed some of the nation’s largest automotive enthusiast tours, car shows, four-wheel events, and family shows in the industry. While serving 16 years as Executive Vice President & General Manager of The Promotion Company/Family Events, Schmitz was responsible for the successful management and lead to key business segments of the Indianapolis-based event promoter. After her tenure at Family Events, Schmitz served for 10 years as Director of Events for The Enthusiast Network’s Performance Aftermarket Group of enthusiast magazines, including Hot Rod, Car Craft, Popular Hot Rodding, Street Rodder, and Super Chevy, where she led the management of major events including Hot Rod Power Tour, Car Craft Summer Nationals, Hot Rod Drag Week, and Engine Masters Challenge, among others. She joins MSG as a Partner after most recently working with FM3 Performance Marketing.
KURT JOHNSON | Partner
Kurt Johnson founded Total Venue Concepts almost three years ago after managing some of the top racing venues in the country. Joining the firm as a Partner, he will merge his venue management company with MSG. Considered one of the top track operators in the country, Johnson has managed Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, OH, served as Director of Operations at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis and in the marketing department at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). Before his career in track operations, Kurt worked in several different capacities with professional race teams.