Racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway often hits the roots of family one way or another. Whether it be from the grandstands or on the starting grid, IMS has a way of making raceday a family tradition.
For Ryan Ellis, who made his fourth career Sprint Cup Series start Sunday at the Brickyard for BK Racing, the reality of his late grandfather’s goal of racing didn’t hit the 26-year-old until a text from his grandmother explained the story.
“I didn’t even think about it because I usually try to go pretty emotionless into the race weekends,” Ellis said. “My grandma sent me that message and it hit me all at once. He actually got killed in a racecar back in 1958 but his ultimate goal was to cross the bricks one day.”
Pulling double-duty in both XFINITY and Sprint Cup, Ellis made his IMS debut in each series, finally bringing the Ellis name to the grid at the world’s most famous racetrack.
Racing at the Brickyard means a lot to my family. My grandpa raced (& gave his life to the sport) trying to get here pic.twitter.com/veUzSwsOoO
— Ryan Ellis (@ryanellisracing) July 24, 2016
“This was and still is the coolest facility in the world,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to fulfill the Ellis name here.”
Competing in consecutive Cup races for the first time in his career, the Virginia native made his first start on a high-speed racetrack. Avoiding a late crash in Turn 1, Ellis grabbed a career-best finish of 32nd in his No. 93 ScienceLogic Toyota.
“It was a long race,” he said. “It’s so cool to be able to cross the bricks in a Cup car and an XFINITY car in the same weekend. We had a good run, my best Cup finish in my fourth race.”
Battling intense heat that plagued the Indianapolis area throughout the weekend, Ellis found a way to deal with the sun both in and out of the racecar.
“I think I drank three jugs of Pedialyte [dehydration prevention drink] in the last 12 hours and I was peeing all night,” he joked. “I feel a lot better than I did in the 60-lap XFINITY race. This was the hottest race I’ve ever been a part of but I think I prepared well. I’m really proud of my ScienceLogic BK Racing guys.”