It was a tough evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway for FDNY Racing. The part-time organization that donates all of its money to charity is back at the track this weekend.
Ryan Ellis, 24, is driving the No. 28 Chevrolet Silverado this season for select races. However, due to the incident at Charlotte with Jake Crum, FDNY Racing’s truck was demolished. To repair the damage, the team needed to find approximately 20 thousand dollars. Fortunately enough, thanks to Ellis’ perseverance, this small team is back at the track at Pocono Raceway.
“After the incident, it is a small team, so we don’t have much funding. We reached out through the best way I know and that’s social media. Being my age, the laziest way to go out is send a Tweet or go on Facebook, which is kind of this generation,” Ellis said. “We got a lot of big donators actually – whether it be through my fraternity, close friends that I met or fans that support me on Twitter. Obviously, all of the race winnings go to charity, so it will help us get back on track to raise money for the widows of the 9/11 attacks.”
Following the wreck, Ellis not only went to social media for help, yet he went to Gofundme.com as well. With nearly 500 shares, the program raised two thousand dollars. But that still left the team a drop shy of their goal. While attending George Mason University, he joined the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Thanks to heavy involvement with them, they have been able fund some of his efforts over the past two years.
“We had a couple of other small investors that didn’t go through the Go Fund Me page. Some people just wanted to donate directly. A lot of people personally gave us money after what happened at Charlotte. I guess they were upset about it and they know our story, so they were willing to do whatever it takes to get us back on track,” he said.
The environment is different for FDNY Racing compared to any other team, especially after what they had to do to get the car back on track. With Ellis’ enthusiasm, along with some help from Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan at times this year, the No. 28 team is ready to just go have fun.
“It’s a bunch of New Yorker guys and you go to our pits, and it is a lot different from everyone else. Between sessions, I walked over and they are all having a great time. I’m not paid. They’re not paid. We just love it. At the end of the day – whether we finish 25th or fifth, we are all going to be happy and have a drink or two.”
Team owner Jim Rosenblum has been working with Ellis since the season began. None of the organization’s employees are paid. Instead, the money that is earned heads over to widows of the 9/11 attacks. Even though Rosenblum pointed to an empty pocket, he was excited about the funding Ellis was able to raise.
“He has some experience, stability; he listens and gives good feedback. He works well with the entire team. Everybody likes him,” Rosenblum said.