Ryan Ellis’ Unlikely Journey to Alpha Prime Racing

Ryan Ellis' Unlikely Journey to Alpha Prime Racing

For the first time in as long as Nascar driver Ryan Ellis can remember, he doesn’t need a day job to support his racing efforts. Finally, the 32-year-old earns a living doing what he loves most.

“I sat in bed and thought I had just about everything I wanted,” Ellis said. “I have a happy marriage, a beautiful daughter, a few dogs and a beautiful home. We don’t make millions of dollars, but I do things like become a Jeff Gordon fashion model and I step back and realize I don’t know how I got here, but I’m here.”

Ellis, 32, is entering the best years of his career. While never a highly coveted prospect, the former start-and-park racer is making waves with consistent runs in the Nascar Xfinity Series with freshman Alpha Prime Racing.

Life is suddenly very different for Ellis. Now he focuses solely on his racing career. Next year, he’ll run about half of the Xfinity Series schedule — if not more — with Alpha Prime, which is owned by Tommy Joe Martins and Caesar Bacarella.

“When I looked at places I could potentially run this year, I saw Alpha Prime as the perfect opportunity because I believe in Tommy and Caesar’s vision,” Ellis said. “I know they have very good cars. I drive for 75,000 teams, I thought I would bring a different perspective to help them. Now we drive about ten together.”

His decision was the right one. For the first time in Ellis’s Nascar career, he is competing for the top 15’s on a consistent basis. It’s not the sexiest stat and he knows it, but every strong run for this team is like a win.

In 11 Xfinity Series starts this year, Ellis took two top 15s and five top 20s. He also failed to qualify at Martinsville with a poorly running race car. The consistency is accompanied by an influx of sponsorship interests, a dream for a racing driver.

Ellis said, “I’m trying to check boxes that I haven’t checked in the past. My schedule will be similar to this year, and we’re going to add some fun songs.”

One of Ellis’s most important partners dates back to the period in his life when he nearly abandoned his dream. He rarely got the chance to ride and the grind of days of searching for sponsorship just didn’t pay off. So he started working at Go Fas Racing as a PR representative for his friend, Matt DiBenedetto.

Keen Parts, a sponsor of DiBenedetto’s car at the time, decided to team up with Ellis when their driver left for Leavine Family Racing and Go Fas apparently retired after two years with Corey LaJoie.

“It’s crazy because in 2016 I kind of stepped away,” Ellis said of his journey back to racing. “If Go Fas hadn’t stopped I probably would have gotten back into racing, but I just don’t know how or how deep I should go into it. I raced two to four races a year for four years.

“But it’s crazy that I was able to get back into it. I feel like I’m in a better place, even when I was back running with BK Racing. ”

Keen Parts is now Ellis’ largest partner. In addition, he signed more sponsors this year, including Four Loko, Heartbeat Hot Sauce, Costa Oil and Renascent Demolition.

As Ellis moves forward, it’s unreal for him to know he’s racing again and in the best situation he’s ever been in. However, his goals are very different now than they were four years ago.

“It sounds crazy to say this, but as a 32-year-old I could have a future in the Cup Series if I had the money,” he said. “I just don’t have the drive to race in the Cup Series because I know how much of a grind it can be and how fast it can spit you out. I want to build a sustainable career like Justin Allgaier did or Matt Crafton or Johnny Sauter. You can earn a pretty good living and race against some great young kids. ”

Ellis’ schedule for 2023 will be announced before the new season starts. The rest of Alpha Prime’s lineup has yet to be announced.