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Ray Ellington Jr. Finally CHAMPION!
Nov 23, 2008 - updated Nov 23rd, 2008 5:00pm
Web posted by Chris Savage

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The curtain has almost fell on another racing season and what a year it has been! It appears Jimmie Johnson has won his third consecutive Sprint Cup Championship, Phillip Morris has won another Whelen National Championship, and Jason York pulls off the upset at Martinsville and wins the Bailey’s 300. However, this story is not about them. Its about a self funded racer who’s endured thirteen years of blood, sweat, and tears only to come up short. Its about a guy who never gave up even when the odds were against him, but after the final checkered flew at Orange County Speedway, he earned a name he has never had….CHAMPION!

Ray Ellington, Jr. 40, of Amherst, VA, attended his first race at South Boston Speedway in diapers. “Every weekend my Dad would take me to a race. We would go to South Boston, Orange County, Martinsville, anywhere there was a race, we went.” Ray said. His passion for racing grew rapidly but unlike most racers, Ray didn’t start racing until he was 26. Ray and his cousin, Les Moreland, put their money together and bought a car. Some other local racers gave them a box of old engine parts and from that point on they were racing. “We dumped that box of old engine parts on the shop floor and looked at them in amazement. Now I look back and realize it was just a bunch of junk but at the time it was pure gold.” Ray laughed.

It’s hard to believe that the first time Ray ever drove a manual transmission was in his first race at South Boston. “We did okay. I rode around in the back and finished in the rear but it was the best experience of my life. From there I was hooked!” Ray said. For the next decade Ray made his home at South Boston Speedway competing in Limited Sportsman division. “ The first couple of years were very tough. We blew a lot of engines and basically had no luck at all.” People even started to ask Ray, “What fun do you get out of running in the rear?” His response, “ I just love to race!” After the kinks were worked out Ray started to improve. Consistent runs started becoming a weekly thing. Ray even improved in the point standings over the years but after 2005 Ray still had not won a race and he had not won a championship. Most people in Ray’s position would have gave up, bought a nice bass boat, and went fishing but not Ray. His desire was as strong as ever.

Fathers day weekend of 2006 just seemed like another race for Ray but as race time slowly approached it started to feel different . “I don’t know what it was but after we completed practice, something felt different and it felt good!” Ray said. He turned out to be right! Ray took the green flag, raced his heart out, and when the checkered dropped, Ray’s bright red #11 Chevrolet crossed the line first! “Words can’t describe that feeling! After so many years of work, frustration, and close calls I finally won my first race! My Dad has so much love for South Boston Speedway! He was my inspiration to race and to get my first win on Fathers day weekend is something you could not have scripted any better! My dad brought me here when I was three years old and I remember growing up here watching my heroes race. Now my name is in the South Boston win column! That was so great!” said Ray. Little did Ray know, the best was yet to come!
In 2008 Ray switched tracks. He started running in the Grand Stock division at Orange County Speedway. The plans for Ray was to run the first five races, take a break, and compete when the funds were available. After the fifth race of the season Ray found himself where he’d never been…atop the point standings. For well funded race teams that would have been great but it was a different story for Ray…He was out of money! “That was the worst position I’d ever been in! I’m leading the points, having the best season of my life, and now I might have to quit! Since quit is not in Ray’s vocabulary, he started examining every option available. “The very first thing I done was get a second job. That was very stressful for me. Some days I would work a twelve hour shift at my regular job, get off, and go pull another twelve hour shift at my second job! It was tough but I knew this might be my last chance make my championship dreams come true!” Ray said. A fellow competitor of Ray’s also came to his rescue. “ I was working two jobs, seven days a week, some days twenty four hours. This left no time to work on my car. Brian Lowman put his driving career on hold to come help me! He would drive thirty minutes, two nights a week, meet up with my cousin Les Moreland, and prepare my car while I was working! Brian also lent us his hauler after mine blew up mid way through the season. I owe a lot to Brian! Its hard to find people that would do that for you!” Ray said. After everything was set in place Ray continued his string of consistent finishes (12 top 5’s out of 14 races) and when the checkered flew at the final race, Ray had finally achieved his dream of becoming a Champion! “ This has been my dream since I started racing! I need to thank Jesus Christ first, my Mom and Dad for being there for me, my cousin Les Moreland for sticking with me through good and bad times, Brian Lowman for putting his racing dreams on hold to help me, Mark Parks of PMZ group, Teddy Goodrich of Performance Counts engines, my wife Cory for sticking by me so I could chase my dream, my two little miracles Brianna and Laci for which I have missed so much being on the road, and last but not least I’d like to dedicate this championship to my late friend Robbie Thompson.

Long before Ray was a champion of racing he was a champion human being. A few years back Ray read a story about a little boy named Jarrett Tripp. Jarrett was born with Neuroblastoma, which is a rare solid tumor childhood cancer. “Jarrett spent the first two years of his life in the hospital. He had surgery after surgery.” Ray said. Ray immediately started donating his race winnings to Jarrett and his family. “I have a very soft spot for kids.” Ray said. Ray could have used his winnings to pay for parts, tires or even gas to get to the track but he didn’t “ I felt kind of guilty because I’m doing what I love to do and this poor kid is suffering! Cory (Ray’s Wife) and I, have been blessed with two healthy little girls so I felt it was just the right thing to do.” Ray added. Ray’s race winnings was enough to send Jarrett and his family to Disneyland for a week! Today Jarrett’s cancer is in remission. “Jarrett is doing good now.” Ray said. “He’s even fulfilling his dream of playing little league football.” Ray added. Ray also teamed up with inspirational country singer John Sines, Jr. to promote the Jamming for Jesus tour. “ John was a sponsor for me a few years back. He approached me at one of his concerts last year and asked if I wanted to hook back up and do this and of course I said yea. So now he is jamming on stage for Jesus and I’m jamming gears for Jesus. I need to thank him for all he has done for me and for all the lives that he has touched.” Ray said.

The next step for a well funded team, after the glory and hype of a championship has sunk in, is to defend it. Unfortunately this might not happen for Ray. “ I cant keep this pace up for another year! Working two jobs, seven days a week, and racing on the weekend is just to much for anybody to endure!” Ray said “ I have sacrificed a lot of time with my wife and two little girls. They are growing up so fast and if I keep this pace I will wake up one day and realize that they are all grown up.” Ray added. Unless a sponsor comes aboard to help Ray’s team it appears he will be running a limited schedule in 2009 and will not know whether he could defended his crown successfully. “If I had to quit racing now I wouldn’t have any regrets. In my mind all of the time, money, and effort was worth it.” Ray said. “My dream would be just to race in a late model at South Boston Speedway one time but for now that is just a dream.” Ray added

Ray has come a long way from that box of old engine parts scattered on the shop floor. He started from nothing, built his way up, earned tons of respect to become a champion! If you searched all over the U.S. you will find thousands of similar stories. Stories of racers who sacrifice everything to chase their racing dreams. Most of those racers already know they wont advance up to the next level but they do it anyway. They do it because they love it. Others who stand outside the racing world call it stupidity but to those people I will give them this saying heard throughout local short tracks across the land…..Damn foolishness to one person is Life to another.


If you are interested in Sponsoring Ray for the 2009 season you can reach him at Ellingtonracing.com


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