5 Questions with Senior Account Supervisor, Rory Connellan
What does your current job responsibilities include?
“I am the day-to-day public relations representative for Kurt Busch and the No. 41 Haas Automation team. My responsibilities include writing pre- and post-race material, pitching story ideas to media, execution of Kurt’s schedule at the racetrack and much more. I’m involved in most aspects of the typical week for Kurt, from making sure he’s prepared for his media interviews to making sure he’s at sponsor appearances on-time and ready to interact with partners, VIPs and guests. I work closely with the marketing department at Stewart-Haas Racing to make sure that we’re doing all that we can not only for the partners associated with the No. 41 team, but for all of SHR.”
How did you get started in the racing industry?
“I got started back in 2000. I was in college, writing for a now-defunct racing website, doing my internship at a radio station and working at a restaurant. I came home from working a shift at the restaurant and went on jayski.com, which at that point was really where you got a lot of the news as far as what was going on in the sport. That was the pre-social media days. There was a story about a kid that Dale Earnhardt Jr., used to race online, which at that time was a pretty big deal. The story told about the two racing, always finishing 1-2, and Junior finally asking him what he raced. The kid told him that he didn’t race because he couldn’t afford it, which led to Junior overnighting him a check for him to go buy a racecar. It listed where he raced, and it was racetracks around the area I was in at the time. So, I reached out to him and offered to get him on our morning show when we went to Watkins Glen. He agreed to come on, but as it turned out, the morning show was more interested in making fun of racing than it was promoting what he did. So, I told him I wouldn’t put him on because it wouldn’t be a beneficial scenario for him. We hung out that weekend at The Glen, and five days later I was at the racetrack with him. It all kind of went from there. ”
Who are some of the clients you have worked with?
“I’ve been fortunate to work for some really great teams in the sport. I got my first big break with Roush-Fenway Racing, where I worked with their development drivers and in the Truck Series for a number of years before moving over to the No. 99 Sprint Cup Series team, where I worked primarily with Office Depot and Aflac. I’ve also worked for Richard Childress Racing on the Cheerios Racing account, Penske Racing on their XFinity program and Rusty Wallace Racing. Since joining TSC, I’ve worked with Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Cole Custer on the NASCAR side. I’ve had a great time working with Haas Automation, Jimmy John’s, State Water Heaters, Outback Steakhouse and Budweiser. Each operates and activates in different ways, and it’s a lot of fun to come up with new ideas to help strengthen each of their programs. I also got to work with the U.S. Army drag racing program. That was exciting because it was a totally new experience.”
What piece of advice would you offer to someone starting in the sport?
“Know what you’re in for. I think there are a lot of folks that don’t understand the demands of the business. We’re fortunate here at TSC to have management that really emphasizes the importance of work-life balance that a lot of other places don’t really have. Most places, it’s a typical 8-5 job that also requires you to travel 36 weekends out of the year. The demands of a career in motorsports, I feel, are much greater than those of another industry. It’s difficult to break in. You can’t just show up in the greater Charlotte area and think you’re going to easily find your dream job. But, once you’re fortunate enough to land your opportunity, there are going to be many long days and weeks ahead. That becomes especially difficult if you have a family. It’s a great industry, it’s a lot of fun to be part of, but it’s a lot of work. Meet as many people as you can, and understand that there’s nothing more important than establishing and maintaining good relationships with those that you cross paths with.”
What is one of the best things you have been able to do working in the sport?
“Being part of the 2013 Brickyard 400 win was, in so many ways, a special day for me. I’d come off a couple of challenging years in the sport. When I got the opportunity to join TSC in 2013, it was such an incredible opportunity. It had been such a great year to that point, and when we won that race, it was icing on the cake. It was really special to celebrate with everyone that day. It made what was already an awesome year that much more special.”