RMNB reader and hockey fan, Ryan Ellis, just hit a big career achievement.
On Friday, the NASCAR driver inked a one-year contract extension with Alpha Prime Racing. But it’s the details of that agreement that are most important.
Ellis will drive the number 43 Chevrolet Camaro full-time in 2024 and compete in every single race of the Xfinity Series season for the first time in his career. Ellis first made his NASCAR debut in 2012 and has competed in every major NASCAR series including Cup and Truck throughout his career.
“This announcement is truly a dream come true,” Ellis said. “My team and I have been working so hard to be able to get to this point.”
— Alpha Prime Racing (@TeamAlphaPrime) August 4, 2023
The announcement means Ellis will race for points and a potential spot in the playoffs next year. This season, his biggest to date, has him targeted to make 31 Xfinity Series starts — a single-season career high.
In NASCAR, a sport that demands drivers bring big-money sponsorship to teams, Ellis — without a huge title sponsor (yet) — has cobbled together a powerful roster of smaller and sometimes iconic supporters, combining his prior relationships with new companies he’s engaged with through social media. Ellis, earlier in the year, even earned the support of popular fast food chain, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, for a race after tweeting them on social media.
One TobyChristie.com article said of Ellis earlier in the season, that “If sponsors were Pokemon, Ryan Ellis would be knee-deep in catching them all.”
Ellis has also utilized his love of hockey and sports in general, turning it into real relationships. After being introduced to former Capital Craig Laughlin, Ellis has annually raised money for The Laughlin Family Foundation during a select race in the season. The UFC’s Dustin Poirier, who recently competed in the BMF title match last weekend, joined Ellis at Talladega SuperSpeedway last season as part of his sponsorship with Heartbeat Hot Sauce. NHL forward and fellow NASCAR fan, Adam Henrique, commissioned an Anaheim Ducks painted helmet for the driver in 2022.
— Ryan Ellis (@ryanellisracing) July 27, 2023
The full-time agreement comes after Ellis was nearly out of the sport entirely as a driver entirely in 2016, agreeing to become a PR guy for Go Fas Racing to have a more sustainable way of life for his family. He later got desk jobs while also racing on weekends beginning in 2021 — a true rarity in the sport.
“Competing full-time in NASCAR has been a dream of mine my entire life,” Ellis said. “For most of my life, it seemed unattainable. However, even when I was working full-time in various office jobs and barely scraping together money to pay the bills and find enough sponsorship just to run a few races a year, I always had the support of my family and friends.”
Ellis’s career is a true underdog story as the racer has fought for every thing he’s gotten in racing. He will remain tied with Tommy Joe Martins’ Alpha Prime outfit which is co-owned by Alpha Prime Sports Founder and CEO Caesar Bacarella — a small team that’s shown good speed and has grown to sport three different cars in the Xfinity Series each weekend.
“Ryan had to fight for every opportunity he’s had, and just like Caesar and myself, he’s committed to helping this team grow,” Martins said. “We’ve been lucky to have him, and we’re both very excited to have him back in a car full-time next year. He’s earned it.”
“I want to be part of Alpha Prime’s continual growth,” Ellis added, “and I want to be doing it with the exact same No.43 group by my side – led by Crew Chief Michael Brandt, Ty Brazeal, Brandon Scercy, Cesar Rodriguez, everyone that helps us get to the track, everyone at the shop, our phenomenal pit crew and spotter, David Pepper.”
If you’re wondering how you can help Ryan, I’ll share the quote he’s spouted to me multiple times this year.
“Every little bit helps,” he said as recently as this week.
Support his sponsors on social media, buy his merch, and like or retweet his stories. It goes a longer way than you might think.
Here’s the full press release from Ryan Ellis Motorsports:
ALPHA PRIME RACING SIGNS RYAN ELLIS FOR 2024
The veteran driver will compete full-time in NASCAR for the first time ever in his 13-year NASCAR career.
Alpha Prime Racing is proud to announce today that they have signed veteran driver Ryan Ellis to a full-season schedule in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for 2024. Ellis, who was initially signed to compete with Alpha Prime for only 12 races in the 2023 season, will also complete the remainder of the 2023 season. He will likely end the season with 31 races run, with the team more than doubling their commitment to the 33-year-old driver from Ashburn, VA, since the beginning of the season.
Ellis first joined Alpha Prime Racing in 2022, competing in 11 races for the newly formed team. In his first-ever race with the team, he secured a new career-best finish.
Ellis is a third-generation racecar driver who began racing at the age of four in quarter midgets. His father, Jim, raced in the SCCA, and his grandfather Vic raced sprint cars in the 1950s before losing his life in a racing accident. After multiple championships in quarter midgets, Ellis progressed through Legends Cars, NASCAR Late Models, Spec Miatas, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Series, Grand-Am, and other series before NASCAR. He made his NASCAR debut in 2012 for Jimmy Means Racing and has raced for numerous small teams in the NASCAR Truck, Xfinity, and Cup Series.
In 2016, Ellis stepped away from driving as a career to become the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Go Fas Racing. When Go Fas closed its doors in the 2020 season, Ellis was fortunate enough to find support from the long-time sponsor of the GFR team, CorvetteParts.net / Keen Parts, owned by Tom and TJ Keen. Because of that sponsorship and friendship, he found himself with his best opportunity since 2016 to get back behind the wheel of a NASCAR race car part-time.
The support of the Keens, along with other longtime partners like Audio Video Specialists, Rich Mar Florists, Limetree Marketing, Kansasland Tire, and others, helped Ellis back into the driver’s seat. He drove several races for BJ McLeod Motorsports in 2021 before making the transition to Alpha Prime Racing in 2022.
Since then, Ellis has worked diligently with his small marketing team to find and grow valued partnerships. In the 2022 season, the Keens joined Ellis at Alpha Prime, propelling Ellis’ career into the best opportunity he had ever had in his NASCAR career. Ellis’ marketing team – led by Sarah Handy and Garrett Miller and guided by the foundation of Phillip Smalley and Motorsports Management International.
Throughout 2022 and 2023, Ellis, his internal team, and Alpha Prime Racing have grown their primary and secondary sponsorships at an unprecedented rate. In the 2023 season alone, the No.43 team has already announced/raced with primary sponsorships from Heartbeat Hot Sauce, Costa Oil (4 races), ShineWater, Rolling Plains Construction, Pella Windows + Doors of Georgia, Four Loko, Device42, Raising Cane’s, CorvetteParts.net / Keen Parts (5 races), Flexcar, Gurtz Electric, Classic Collision, Rich Mar Florists, Renascent, AAGI, and Spider Energy Drink, with at least four new primary sponsors yet to be announced.
Partnerships specific to the 2024 season will be announced at a later date.
Headline photo via Ryan Ellis/Alpha Prime Racing
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