Ellis’ Xfinity Series race car was designed by Chris Thorburn’s three children – 12-year-old Bennett, five-year-old Mary and two-year-old Oscar – to raise awareness of autism. Thorburn, the 801-game NHL veteran, retired after the St. Louis Blues Championship season in 2018-19.
Bennett, Thorburn’s oldest child, was diagnosed with autism when he was four years old. Bennett learned number recognition and how to count with his racing cars. To further encourage their son, the Thorburns family attended the races at Michigan International Speedway each year together as a family.
This year, Bennett will feel confident seeing a car on the track he helped create. It’s a confidence he always deserves to feel.
“We would like to sincerely thank Tom and TJ Ken of Ken Parts, Alpha Prime Racing, and NASCAR driver and friend, Ryan Ellis, for this incredible opportunity,” Chris and Sarah Thorburn said in a statement. “NASCAR has been a huge part of our family’s life ever since we realized Bennett was using diecast cars to recognize, learn and calculate numbers. We have been very fortunate years ago to get to know the NASCAR family and have been huge fans ever since.
“People across the sport are very caring, understanding and willing to help no matter what. He truly has a homely feel to him. We visited Michigan International Speedway four years ago and with the help of Chris Pepe, we got to know Ryan Ellis. This guy is the epitome of what we feel is NASCAR.” Not only is he a great driver but he is very caring, loving and giving.We can’t thank him enough for the opportunity he and his team gave our family.Not only was it a fun family project, the kids will see the car they designed run the race and hopefully bring some smiles to families who can That relates to our situation but also raises awareness for the autism community.”
Bennett Thorburn worked with his brothers to color a model of NASCAR on a piece of paper with crayons. The design was then scanned and sent to the Ellis team who then turned it into a stunning wrap for their car, and the phrase “Be a Friend” was added to the lower quarter panel and bumper.
“I am so proud to be running this show, and so grateful that Tom and TJ Kane made this a reality for the Thorburn family,” Ellis said. “They have done so much through their sponsorship to do so much more than just promote their company. They really used it as a platform to help others and put smiles on their faces. I met the Thorburns a few years ago at Michigan International Speedway while working at Go Fas Racing, and ironically for a sponsored weekend race Keen The Thorburns family couldn’t be more kind – you meet them and you instantly feel like you’ve known them for years and feel so lucky to be able to do something for the Bennett and their families hopefully this brings some awareness of autism. [Allison] He works in mental health and that means a lot to our family too.”
Ellis and Thorburn’s friendship led to one of the most memorable sporting moments for Ryan in his life. The Blues legend, who knows how big a hockey fan Ellis is, invited the Xfinity Series driver to Stanley Cup Day at his home in Michigan in 2019. Ellis, who lives in North Carolina, got a photo opportunity with the Stanley Cup – an experience he couldn’t have Distinguished fans of Capitals to happen during the Stanley Cup celebration in Washington a year ago.
Thorburn even helped Ellis have a drink from the NHL Championship Trophy.
Ellis, a longtime RMNB reader, has played on the George Mason University hockey team and plays for the North Carolina Beer League team. He attended the 2018 Stanley Capitals Cup Final and the team’s championship parade weeks later.
Ellis’ special styling would not have been possible without the support of the #44 Chevy’s primary sponsor, CorvetteParts.net. The company, owned by Tom and TJ Ken, sells parts and accessories to Corvette owners of all generations. They have used their sponsorship for many charitable causes, including last year’s Laughlin Family Foundation charity drive in Martinsville that raised tens of thousands of dollars to fight rare cancers, and they have been loyal NASCAR sponsors for more than 10 years.
Everyone goes wish Tweet embed very happy birthday!! One of the greatest men I had the pleasure of meeting (Thanks ianoland for the introduction). Not to mention he is very generous and a huge supporter of Tweet embed. I wish you a wonderful day!!! pic.twitter.com/qUNBenDW3s
– Courtney Laughlin (@CourtneyL_Caps) November 30, 2021
“We are very proud to be able to support such a great cause,” said TJ Keen of Keen Parts. “Bennett, Mary and Oscar did an amazing job designing this scheme, and Tom and I are so excited to be able to represent CorvetteParts.net/Keen Parts on their design! We are really looking forward to seeing her on the right track this Saturday and we hope the whole family can enjoy this weekend and we hope that This helps raise awareness of autism.”
Saturday’s race, which will air on USA at 3:30 p.m., will be Ryan’s second race in consecutive weeks. This season, Ellis achieved the best Alpha Prime Racing finish ever as a team, 13th, twice despite running to a limited schedule. Ellis hopes to expand for a full season next year.
We will bring a pack of 64 crayons Tweet embed In case we need fixes https://t.co/hTTIaKMCZM
– Alpha Prime Racing (TeamAlphaPrime) August 4, 2022
Full disclosure: Ryan Ellis is a longtime reader and friend of the blog. RMNB has sponsored Ryan at races in the past. We bring you highlights of Ryan’s career as we hope to help him realize his dream of being a full-time racer at Xfinity or the best of the series one day.