Last July, NASCAR driver Ryan Ellis debuted a new helmet that went viral in hockey circles. The longtime Caps fan and Ashburn, Virginia native had his bucket painted in Washington Capitals colors. The team’s Stanley Cup champions logo was emblazoned on the back.
The driver wore the helmet at the XFINITY Road America race – a road course midway between the cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay – in August.
“It definitely brought up a lot of conversation among the drivers,” Ellis, who finished 17th in the race, said. “I felt like it was my own unique championship ring, and definitely had a large sense of pride being a Caps fan after they finally got over the hill.”
Ellis recently got a surprise in the mail from the Caps organization. After the NASCAR season ended, Ellis and members of the Capitals organization chatted. The team asked if the driver could send up his helmet. Ellis obliged.
A week later, Ellis’s helmet returned in the mail. Every player from the 2018 championship team still with the Capitals had signed it in a big bold silver sharpie.
“I was blown away when I first saw it,” Ellis said. “There were no words.”
Ellis found the gesture so special he decided to do something to protect the autographs forever.
“I contacted Greg from Off Axis Paint, who originally did my helmet,” Ells said. “He clear-coated the signatures into the helmet to preserve it.
“Now that I have it, I don’t even want to wear it,” Ellis, laughing with excitement, said. “I want to just preserve it in a locked away glass case, but I’m sure it’ll get a few 200 mph runs soon!”
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