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Everything You Need to Know About Ryan Ellis

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Joshua Lipowski

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Ryan Ellis is an old-school racer. A third-generation driver who does it the hard way, Ryan Ellis is quite an interesting case when it comes to driving. Who is the guy who will be driving the Heartbeat Hot Sauce car this weekend?

Ryan Ellis is an old-school racer. A third-generation driver who does it the hard way, Ryan Ellis is quite an interesting case when it comes to driving. Who is the guy who will be driving the Heartbeat Hot Sauce car this weekend?

Early Life/Racing Career

Ryan Ellis was born on November 29, 1989 in Ashburn, Virginia. According to his website, Both of his grandfathers and his father Jim were racers. Ellis began racing at the age of four in 1993.

He spent his adolescence building a name for himself racing in Virginia. He raced in quarter midgets until he was 11 where he moved to Legends cars and eventually late models. To the surprise, potentially, of some, Ellis actually worked primarily on road racing as time went on.

According to his website, Ellis participated in the Jetta TDI Program through Volkswagen. He impressed, winning two races, and he made the move up to professional Grand-Am Racing from there through the Continental Tire Series. Between the two series, he won two races. He would run in Grand-Am Sports Cars through 2013, but NASCAR came calling shortly thereafter.

Move to NASCAR

In 2012, Ellis ran a one-off entry for former NASCAR driver Jimmy Means in the Xfinity Series at Road America. Ellis would qualify 35th and finish 39th in a start-and-park ride. He would fail to qualify for his other two entries that season.

In 2013, Ellis would enter into six more Xfinity Series races late in the season. He would qualify for all six races, and he would finish his first career oval series race at Richmond finishing in 31st.

Since then he has raced part-time entries in all three national touring series for multiple different teams. He led his first career laps in NASCAR at Richmond in 2015 in the Xfinity Series under a caution flag at Richmond while driving for Rick Ware.

In 2016, Ellis moved away from pursuing a driving career as he worked in public relations for Go Fas Racing, who used to run Matt Dibenedetto in the Cup Series. From 2017 through 2020, Ellis merely made sporadic starts in the Xfinity Series. When Go Fas Racing shut down, Ellis worked his way back into the driver’s seat.

In 2022, Ellis began to find his footing running 11 races for Alpha Prime Racing. He had a best finish of 13th, which he got at both Las Vegas and Charlotte. In 2023, Ellis is set to run more races in a season than he ever has as he has run 14 of the 16 Xfinity Series races run so far this season, and he got another career best finish at Talladega finishing 11th.

Finding his Own Sponsors

One of the most unique things about Ellis and other drivers in his situation is how to find sponsors. Ellis has an entire page on his website dedicated to the partners that help him race.

Back in March, Ellis was at Raising Cane’s the weekend of the Las Vegas race. He gave a not so subtle plug asking the company to sponsor Ellis’ car.

Sure enough, Ellis was sponsored by Raising Cane’s at Talladega. Ryan Ellis truly is an old-school racer. A racer who has worked his way into racing in NASCAR via selling himself to sponsors. He is beginning to see the fruits of his labor as a NASCAR driver who is trying to make it, even if it is coming a bit later than others.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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