Updated: Dec 6, 2020
The following is a piece written by Chris Knight, Catchfence.com
MARTINSVILLE, Va.: For the past four NASCAR Cup Series seasons, Ryan Ellis has had to put his dream of being a professional race car driver on the backburner, while supporting Matt DiBenedetto and Corey LaJoie live theirs.
Since shifting his efforts away from a career of driving in any of NASCAR’s top divisions, Ellis joined Go Fas Racing where he has served as the team’s public relations and marketing director.
And while that chapter will close with next weekend’s season-finale at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway, Ellis is ready to turn the page and put his driving career back into fourth gear.
“A lot is going to change soon,” Ellis told CATCHFENCE.com. “I’m still happy to have an imprint in this sport in a variety of roles and it really has made me a better person and hopefully a better driver for 2021.”
With Go Fas Racing announcing a few weeks ago that the organization will shift from a full-time to a part-time team, Ellis was gearing up for a change of his own. For weeks leading up to team owner Archie St. Hilaire’s decision, Ellis had been approached about a new career outside of racing – one that he’ll take the green flag before the end of 2020.
“I’ve accepted a new job at Klik Marketing based in Charlotte as their marketing director,” Ellis said. “They’ve been so supportive of me and they know about my desire to race and they’ve told me that want me to race as much as possible – so it’s the perfect situation for me – like a second chance.”
Knowing that the Klik Marketing job was on the horizon, Ellis wasn’t sure how to approach St. Hilaire and his son Mason – who Ellis has bonded with over the last 48 months.
“I really want to thank Archie and Mason (St. Hilaire) for being two amazing bosses and friends,” Ellis said. “They really took great care of us during the season, offseason, quarantine and even when pursuing other interests, they did everything they could to help each and every single employee find a new position they’d be happy with within another team.
“Thankfully, I already knew what I wanted to do, so it all worked out. A blessing.”
While Ellis is excited to take on his newest challenge with Klik, he’s already lining up a part-time schedule next season that will officially bring him out of hiatus.
Taking advantage of off weekends in Cup Series, Ellis has run just five Xfinity Series races with a best finish of 17th at Road America (Wisc.) driving for B.J. McLeod Motorsports.
The Ashburn, Va. native has already signed on with B.J. McLeod Motorsports for a limited schedule next season. While his complete roster is still being finalized, the 30-year-old knows he’ll be a part of the Xfinity Series grid when they hit Circuit of the Americas (COTA) next spring.
“I’ve already locked down COTA with Tom and TJ Keen from Keen Parts in Xfinity with B.J. Mcleod’s team and I’m pretty sure we’ll do most of the Xfinity Series road courses with him as well,” added Ellis.”
But he doesn’t want to wait until late spring or early summer to get back behind the wheel, Ellis is trying to make things happen much sooner, like Daytona in February.
“I’m working really hard to put something together for Daytona in February whether that be Cup or Xfinity and I have some good options for that, we just have to see how it all unfolds,” Ellis added.
Never losing the confidence or belief in himself as a racer – Ellis knows performance is important and he’s focused on making sure he’s competitive from start to finish – no matter what team he’s with.
“I want to focus on races where I feel like we can put good deals together to run competitively,” sounded Ellis. “In the past, when racing was my full-time job, I often had to put myself in any car to make a living no matter what their plan was for competitiveness with tires, engine or whatever.
“Now, I can go out and pick and choose races where I know we’ll be competitive and represent our partners well and I’m so happy that I have some great friends and partners already reaching out to help put those types of deals together.”
While Ellis realizes winning may be a longshot, things happen in racing – particularly on road courses and with every chance to fire the engine the thought of winning is what he craves.
“You never know what’s going to happen when that green flag waves,” he added. “I know there are some really good teams and drivers out there running fulltime next season but I’m confident that if we focus on the bigger pictures and get a few breaks along the way, we are going to surprise some people and if we do – hopefully, that leads to more races whether it be in 2021 or down the road.
“I’d love to make this a career again someday. But – at this point, every race in 2021 I’ll be thankful for. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve doing with Go Fas Racing but suiting up and climbing in that race car and hearing that engine roar is something I’ve really missed. Something, I can’t wait to do (again).”
Follow Chris Knight on Twitter @Knighter01.
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