One of the drivers in Saturday’s NASCAR race at Dover International Speedway has an interesting sponsor after a local hockey blog raised funds to help him race.
Racecar number 25, driven by Virginia native Ryan Ellis, is sporting a new decal bought by the Capital’s fan site Russian Machine Never Breaks, or “RMNB.”
Fans of the site helped raise money to get Ellis on the track at Dover and they forked over $8,888, a tribute to the "great 8" Alex Ovechkin.
Tattooed on the rear of the car, the phrase: "Crash the net, not the bumper."
WUSA9 spoke to Ellis about his local roots, racing and what it means for him to be sponsored by RMNB.
Where are you from?
I was born in Southern California, but moved to Northern Virginia when I was just four years old. Spent my whole life growing up in Ashburn, Virginia, until I moved to Fairfax to go to George Mason University, where I studied business-marketing, and recently moved to Charlotte to fully commit myself into racing.
When did you start racing?
I've been racing since I was four years old. My father raced his whole life and so did my grandfather, so it was a very natural progression for me. I grew up around the sport and loved it ever since I was born.
Why have RMNB sponsor you? What does it mean to you to drive with that RMNB on the top of your car?
I became an RMNB fan three or four years ago when I was introduced to the site by my mother. I've been a huge Caps fan, and never miss a game, but I found RMNB to be a very interesting refreshing way to look at the sport. I met a bunch of the guys last year and once I figured out they were NASCAR fans, we knew we had to make something like this happen.
It's been a lot of fun, and I hope we do it again next year! The RMNB community has been so supportive and we could not do this without them. The deal this weekend goes way further than a decal on a racecar. To me, it shows the support that the DMV area has for one of their own, not only for me, but for RMNB.
We hear this is the first time anyone has been sponsored by a blog at a NASCAR race – what’s the reaction been to your car from other drivers? From fans?
A lot of people have been asking about it, and it's been a lot of fun to see their reaction when we tell them. It's so wild, crazy, and different, and I think it's very good for people in our sport to have sponsors like this that bring a new demographic to the sport. I think it's creating a very interesting crossover between the two sports, and I hope I can make hockey fans into racing fans, and vice versa.
Are you a Capitals fan?
Yes! I've been a Caps fan my whole life. I used to have season tickets and would go to as many games as possible. I played college hockey at George Mason University and have played hockey for 20+ years, and still play in an adult league in Charlotte.