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.
After intentionally wrecking FDNY Racing’s Ryan Ellis in an on-track incident at Charlotte, Jake Crum’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series license was revoked at tracks 1.25 miles in length and larger. However, during Speedway Digest’s “Speedy Digest” podcast, we have exclusively learned that Crum’s license has been restored at its full effect.
NASCAR officials, specifically NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director of Competition, Chad Little, told Crum that he needed to race at Dover to regain his license at the larger tracks.
“It was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened, and we are on good terms now,” Crum said. “I spoke with him (Ellis) in Dover. I went up there to get reapproved to run at the mile and a half tracks because unfortunately – they took my mile and a half speedway license after that incident.”
“My initial reaction was that I had no idea what had happened. I didn’t know if I came up a little bit and he came down and it was a racing incident, but obviously the information that I got was that I got dumped. I went on the radio and was like ‘did we get turned?’ And you could hear me yell it on the broadcast. I kind of got dazed. I asked David Ragan (who was spotting for Ellis) if we got turned and he was like ‘yeah he hooked you.’ I was like ‘alright, who was it?’ I heard that from David Ragan and I was like ‘I’m going to go kill this guy’ (he joked). Luckily, at that point I hadn’t seen the video of what happened, so I was able to make a rational decision of how to handle it – walked out and gave him the ‘what for’ signal. I thought I saw some kind of hand gesture from him, but I don’t know,” Ellis said over-the-phone the day after the incident had taken place.
Due to the unforeseen circumstances, Crum was able to piece a deal together with SS Green Light Racing to pilot the No. 07 truck at Dover in an attempt to regain his license at the larger tracks. However, after 52 laps, Crum’s day was completed as the engine expired on his Chevrolet Silverado.
“The main oil line came off and leaked oil everywhere, so we weren’t eligible to finish the race. They told me it was enough and that I should stay out of trouble and just move forward.”
Even though he did not complete over half of the race, Crum had discussions with NASCAR to explain to them his side of the story, and apologized for his actions.
“I am aloud to go back to the bigger tracks now. I actually went up and spoke with Chad Little and I gave a call to Brett Bodine and I told them that I had apologized for what had happened at Charlotte,” he said exclusively to Speedway Digest.
But even though his license is fully reinstated, Crum doesn’t have a ride – at least for now. When asked if he had any deals in place to race for the rest of the season, he could not comment. However, he did state that there have been talks with several companies to fund a program which would get him back on track.
The 22-year-old North Carolina native has 15 career starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with a best finish of 13th at the Kentucky Speedway in 2012.
Earning less than $8,000 on Friday evening is not going to cover the damage which Ryan Ellis sustained during a late-race incident with Jake Crum. Ellis, 24, was making his third career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, and second with FDNY Racing, an organization which runs a limited schedule.
Ellis was arguably intentionally hit by Crum on Lap 87. After Crum discussed his side of the story to Speedway Digest on Saturday afternoon, we spoke to Ellis on Sunday evening to hear what he had to say.
“My initial reaction was that I had no idea what had happened. I didn’t know if I came up a little bit and he came down and it was a racing incident, but obviously the information that I got was that I got dumped. I went on the radio and was like ‘did we get turned?’ And you could hear me yell it on the broadcast. I kind of got dazed. I asked David Ragan (who was spotting for Ellis) if we got turned and he was like ‘yeah he hooked you.’ I was like ‘alright, who was it?’ I heard that from David Ragan and I was like ‘I’m going to go kill this guy’ (he joked). Luckily, at that point I hadn’t seen the video of what happened, so I was able to make a rational decision of how to handle it – walked out and gave him the ‘what for’ signal. I thought I saw some kind of hand gesture from him, but I don’t know,” Ellis said over-the-phone.
The tone in Ellis’ voice elaborated on his displeasure of what occurred. Both drivers were racing for severely underfunded teams, and the incident hurt each of them.
“I went over to his hauler and was waiting for him after the race, but that kind of got blown out of proportion. I had seen the replay and once I did, I was just really mad because that was when I saw I was going in a straight line. I was waiting by the hauler to see his side of the story and just talk to him to figure out if I made him mad. It was different. Sitting there over night, I really started to think why he hasn’t reached out to me. He reached out to me eventually, we talked and he said he hit the wall during the race. I think we both agreed that he shouldn’t have put himself in that position. There were no hard feelings outside of that. A lot of people say that it was purposeful, and pretty much everybody told me they thought it was on purpose at this point. I’ll try to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t want a bad name in racing just like he doesn’t. All of us guys trying to make it need to stick together. I’m not going to retaliate because I don’t have any money to retaliate.”
Crum claims that his No. 82 truck for Empire Racing sustained damage to his right front toe-in after Ellis and he got together in a wreck on Lap 30. However, Crum said that he forgot about the earlier incident with Ellis, and was just trying to get a side draft to pass him, but because of the toe-in issue, he was at a severe angle while racing with Ellis which he did not realize would evidently send the No. 28 truck straight into the wall.
“It seemed like a very severe angle to side draft at. It looks horrible on tape. NASCAR has a lot of really, really close footage. They are not happy about the situation. I spoke to (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director of Competition) Chad Little and he is pretty concerned about the incident, and I am not sure what they are going to do. I gave him my side of the story and told him that I am not going to hold anything against Jake. I don’t really know him and this is our first incident,” Ellis said on the incident.
They tried calling each other, but Ellis missed the calls due to practicing his Nationwide Series car at Iowa on Saturday afternoon. Eventually, both drivers spoke, and discussed the incident. They agreed to disagree, yet they have forgiven each other for the incident. There are no hard feelings for each other, but Ellis has gained plenty of support from his peers since the incident.
“I spoke to pretty much everyone in the Nationwide Series today and they all doubt Jake’s story, and they think it was on purpose. I’ll try to make my own judgment on that though.”
Now, both drivers might not be able to race with their perspective organizations. Crum is unsure whether or not he will obtain sponsorship to return to Empire Racing, but stated will have some meetings with the team to discuss his future. Meanwhile, since FDNY Racing gives all the money which they earn to multiple charities, the organization might not be able to return to the race track this season.
“At this point I don’t know. We’re trying to put together some fundraisers to put the truck back together. We were supposed to be out racing at Pocono, but that was our Pocono truck and it’s completely destroyed. It’s not fun for anybody. I don’t know if we’ll be back on the track this year, but we’ll try to find a way,” said Ellis who also will drive for Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing in the Camping World Truck Series.
Jake Crum and Ryan Ellis were two drivers that needed to have good runs on Friday evening for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. After both drivers got into an incident early in the race, Crum and Ellis were racing side-by-side on the backstretch on Lap 87 when Crum drove into Ellis, damaging each of their underfunded trucks.
Whether it was intentional or not, Crum and Ellis were each driving for part-time organizations. Crum was able to continue on, but Ellis was not.
Making his first start since a 19th place finish at Bristol last August, Crum was poised to have a solid evening while driving for Empire Racing. However, he was collected in an accident less than 20 laps after the incident with Ellis, destroying his No. 82 Ford.
Ellis had plenty of support on social media as drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Parker Kligerman, David Ragan (who was spotting for Ellis) and Kasey Kahne commented on the incident which seemed to be intentional. After the race, Ellis explained his side of the incident, and requested for Crum to message him on Twitter to discuss things over.
“Initially we had gotten together where he ran me down on the apron and wrecked us which was fine because neither of our trucks got hurt. I really just forgot about it. I tried to side draft him a little bit to try to get a position back, and I just miscalculated how close we got,” Crum said on Saturday afternoon on the phone.
“We came down and I just got into the back of him. I felt really bad for what had happened. A few laps later, we got blown to pieces. I hate that (the wreck with Ellis) happened. It wasn’t intentional. I don’t race like that and I don’t intend to just wreck a guy on purpose. It was just my mistake that I hope never happens again.”
Crum also stated that the car was damaged during the first incident, and his right-front toe “was pretty messed up.”
However, no matter what Crum has to say, Ellis’ FDNY Racing Chevrolet is destroyed. FDNY Racing is a part-time organization that runs based upon volunteers that like to race. Ellis does not make any profit in driving for FDNY Racing, and was just going out there to have a good run for the team’s owner, New York native, Jim Rosenblum.
“We exchanged texts back and forth. I tried to call him a couple of times, but he’s in Iowa doing the Nationwide stuff, so he said he’s going to call me later.”
Ellis is currently preparing to race the No. 46 car at Iowa for The Motorsports Group. Crum, however, is working on possibly getting some more races with Empire Racing, but could not comment whether or not he will be able to get back on track with the team this season.