NASCAR driver Ryan Ellis will take the wheel again on Saturday for his fourth race of the 2021 XFINITY season. Ellis, a road course extraordinaire, will drive the no. 78 owned by BJ McLeod Motorsports at Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The Northern Virginia native and huge Washington Capitals fan will be teaming up with a familiar sponsor.
Us! This here hockey blog.
“It’s always awesome to have Russian Machine on the car and have my NASCAR loving-friend Ian’s support,” Ellis said in a text message. “Hopefully, we will keep this RMNB logo clean unlike Dover otherwise Ian might rethink the sponsorship. And our friendship.”
— BJ McLeod Motorsports (@TeamBJMcLeod) July 2, 2021
Ellis will race in a red Independence Day-themed race car at 2:30 PM (ET) that is primarily sponsored by Rich Mar Florist and a host of other supporters.
We are going @XfinityRacing with @ryanellisracing of @TeamBJMcLeod this weekend and we are back with our friends @diecast_b and a new partner @russianmachine for @roadamerica. This Diecast is @ryanellisracing first one and so be sure to visit @diecast_b to order. pic.twitter.com/Zjy71vmVYK
— Rich Mar Florist (@RichMarFlorist) June 28, 2021
“Road America is a track that is close to my heart,” Ellis said. “I’ve run a lot of races there in different series throughout my life and I’ve always had a good amount of success. We had a lot of really cool businesses both small and large come on board for this weekend and it’s always very meaningful that people will support me in these types of ways.”
Road America is the longest track on the NASCAR circuit, a blistering 4.048-mile road course that forces drivers to find speed in and out of corners. It’s best known for “The Kink.” After a “plunging downhill carousel turn” drivers go into the fast right-handed Turn 11 which has caused many crashes over the years.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 3, 2021
Former NHL and KHL player Tim Stapleton of Boikey’s is throwing his support behind the car this weekend. Boikey’s sells protein power snacks targeted towards athletes. Stapleton, who is part-owner and the Operations Manager, played parts of four seasons in the NHL with Atlanta, Winnipeg, and Toronto and later spent part of a season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk during the 2014-15 campaign. Ilya Samsonov was his teammate.
“I spent the majority of my professional hockey career in Europe/Russia and team sponsorship was paramount,” Stapleton said. “Not only is it exciting for Boikey’s to be that sponsor today, but what better opportunity than NASCAR! It’s an honor to have Ryan drive our first-ever sponsored car! We are looking forward to getting an inside look at the sport of NASCAR and becoming true fans.”
Ellis has continued his racing career while juggling a full-time marketing job, running the popular Not Another Racing Podcast with NASCAR Cup regular Matt DiBenedetto – his best friend, tending to his beautiful wife Allison who’s nearly eight months pregnant, playing in a beer hockey league, and taking graduate school classes. He also sometimes responds to texts from me in the same hour.
The race will mark a huge milestone for Ellis. Circle B Diecast will be producing Ryan’s first official diecast car ever, which will go on preorder soon in a few days. The design will be based on his car from Road America. Ryan first debuted in the series in 2012, nine years ago.
“Obviously, the diecast really differentiates this weekend for the partners we do have on the car,” Ellis said. “It’s my first publicly sold diecast. I’m really excited to have that out there for my partners and for my future daughter who will be here soon to destroy it in a few short weeks.”
Other sponsors that will be teaming up with Ellis include Audio Video Specialists, thirty-thirty Coffee Co., Guaranteed Rate Affinity, Face Off Hockey Show, Hunting with Soldiers, Limetree, and Fletcher Brantner’s FireBird Designs who did the design of the car. Ryan has cultivated these sponsorships through honesty, hardwork, and loyal friendship.
“Ryan and I have become more than just sponsor and driver, to see this come full circle and to have our company be the primary sponsor this weekend speaks volumes to the driver and person Ryan is,” Rich Mar of Rich Mar Florist said. “I have no doubt he will give us a great run at Road America and continue to be a great brand representative for Rich Mar Racing this weekend and beyond.”
Ellis’s weekend on the track got off to a strong start on Friday. The third-generation driver posted the 18th fastest lap during practice, beating out his teammate this weekend, 2014 NASCAR Cup champion Kevin Harvick.
Practice Results @roadamerica!
— BJ McLeod Motorsports (@TeamBJMcLeod) July 2, 2021
“We’ve got a really good racecar for our small team’s budget,” Ellis said. “We are on a very small fraction of what these big teams run on with personnel and budget. So for us to go out there and beat several big teams is really promising heading into race day.”
This season, Ellis has posted two top 25 finishes in three starts, including 16th at Darlington. In his last race at Mid Ohio, Ellis was putting the finishing touches on a top 15 before being spung out by close friend Cody Ware during the final lap. (Before the race, Ryan warned Cody not to wreck him on Twitter.) Ware, and his father Rick, apologized to Ryan for the gaffe by gifting him a race later in the year at the Cup level. It’ll be Ryan’s first time back in NASCAR’s big leagues since 2016.
Ellis previously teamed up with RMNB during the pandemic, driving a digital RMNB car in nationally televised iRacing races as the NASCAR season was paused. RMNB was also Ryan’s primary sponsor at the Dover Xfinity race in 2016 – Dale Jr.’s final victory – and Ryan’s Cup debut in 2015 at Pheonix.
Saturday’s race will be aired at 2:30 pm on NBC.
Here’s a little bit more about Ryan’s sponsorship team this weekend. Several of Ryan’s contacts wanted to say thank you and leave some surprise encouragement for him.
Rich Mar Florist
Rich Mar Florist delivers flowers and gifts to Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and the Greater Lehigh Valley, PA area.
“Ryan reached out to me via Twitter last season and told me he was getting back into racing,” Mar said. “A simple Twitter DM and invite to play Call Of Duty with our friend and fellow NASCAR driver Garrett Smithley turned into a daily occurrence. I do have to admit, Ellis definitely is the best of the Call of Duty Squad. I have really gotten to know Ryan over the pandemic and the last year. He is confident in his return to racing and I hope to see more of him this season and beyond behind the wheel. I am very excited for Ryan to become a Dad, I know he will raise his daughter to be a winner just like him. Although I will not be there in person for Road America, I will be cheering from a distance and then criticizing his performance on WarZone next week.”
Audio Video Specialists
Audio Video Specialists design and install high-quality smart home, home theater, and home automation systems in the Chicago suburbs.
“As a small company we always look forward to working with Ryan when we can,” Casey Elliott said. “He’s not only a great ambassador for the sport of NASCAR but also for every company that rides with him. He will go above and beyond his ‘obligations’ to make sure everything goes as perfect as possible. His marketing background and determination to succeed makes him a great partner. And my son absolutely loves him so that’s a plus as well!”
Limetree is a marketing and advertising company that combines data and behavioral science into actionable and measurable marketing activities. The company is headquartered in Dallas.
“We are a company built on passion, and Ryan, as well as the partners that are on the car with us, all share that trait,” Michael Meadows, Limetree’s Chief Strategy Officer, said. “We love sharing Ryan’s story with our team here and hope they are inspired by Ryan and a great effort this weekend.”
Michael added that he lives in Pittsburgh and has been a Penguins fan since the mid-80s. Tragic, but we’ll forgive him. Over the years, he said he always loved to hate Mike Gartner, Dino Ciccarelli, and Dale Hunter.
“I had initially sponsored a Go Fas Racing car as a surprise to my dad when Ryan was the PR person theree,” Meadows said. H”e was kind of our ‘garage sherpa,’ navigating us through everything and making sure that my dad had a great time. Honestly, we just really liked him and our time – we had a fair amount of experience with the typical NASCAR garage experience, and Ryan was just much more genuine and engaging. After talking about his goals, I had seen a post that he was looking to run the Chili Bowl. My dad brought me up going to dirt racing, I thought that was a perfect chance to support a passion project for Ryan that happened to coincide with a personal interest, and we’ve done that a couple of times now.”
Guaranteed Rate Affinity
Guaranteed Rate Affinity, per their website, “provides the best mortgage experience possible, featuring incredibly low rates, fantastic customer service, and a fast, simple process.”
“There was no question when it came to wanting to sponsor Ryan,” James Clark, VP of Mortgage Lending, said. “He is a superb competitor and I look forward to watching him compete. My kids and I have been following him throughout the years and very thankful we have an opportunity to help him.”
thirty-thirty Coffee Co.
thirty-thirty Coffee Co. is an independent, locally-owned coffee shop in Peoria, Illinois. Road America will mark thirty-thirty’s second sponsored race of the season (fourth overall) with Ryan and the team.
“We’ve committed to helping Ryan and others across many motorsport platforms get on track,” Owner Steve Elmore said. “With Ryan, his incredible work ethic, passion for every project in which he endeavors, and his love for hockey make our decision easy when planning our yearly sponsorship budget. Additionally, his attention to detail meshes perfectly with our company’s philosophy of serving and manufacturing. We are thrilled to once again be a tiny part of the journey he has undertaken.”
Update: Ryan finished 30th in the race after the car had brake issues.
We lost brakes every 5 or so laps and eventually lost them completely with two to go. We had a fast car but could never show it because as soon as the car would come to us we’d lose brakes. Just really frustrated that we didn’t get a chance to shine today.
— Ryan Ellis (@ryanellisracing) July 3, 2021
I’m thankful for the opportunity to design and ride along on the car this weekend! pic.twitter.com/70zn57CS8O
— FireBird Designs (@fb_designs27) July 4, 2021
Headline photo: Logan Arce via Ryan Ellis
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