Carly Jo Ellingson has won dozens of races during her comparatively brief drag racing career, but her latest victory tops them all. The 20-year-old Rapid City, S.D., native is the winner of the $50,000 grand prize racing sponsorship in the Champion Spark Plug brand’s annual “Search for a Champion” contest. Ellingson, who competes in the National Hot Rod Association’s Pro E.T. and Super Pro classes, bested nearly 150 other leading grassroots racers from across the U.S. and Canada.
“Performance Driven” Champion spark plugs, wipers and filters are products of Federal-Mogul Motorparts, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to represent one of the most popular brands in the automotive industry,” Ellingson said. “Champion and Federal-Mogul Motorparts have given me a once-in-a-lifetime chance to advance my career and eventually compete at the professional level.”
Ellingson was selected from a field of 15 finalists whose 2–minute “Search for a Champion” video entries best demonstrated their passion and determination to win with the help of Champion products. Members of the Champion online community were invited to vote for their favorite videos through two rounds of judging, with more than 75,000 votes cast via the www.AlwaysAChampion.com website.
Ellingson became interested in drag racing at age eight after seeing the movie “Right On Track,” which chronicled the early racing careers of sisters Erica and Courtney Enders. Just one year later, Ellingson was behind the wheel of her own car in the NHRA Junior Dragster class, where she won nearly 70 events, six points titles and her first “Wally” NHRA national event championship trophy. In 2012, she moved up to the Pro E.T. and Super Pro classes with a restored, Champion-powered 1970 Ford Mustang that her father had first owned as a high school sophomore. She won two event titles and posted two runner-ups in her first season, sat out the next year following an accident, and then returned in 2014 to win two additional events.
“Carly Jo’s passion for racing is obvious as soon as you start to watch her video, and it’s clear that the Champion community found her story particularly compelling,” said Jessica Wynn, global director, digital marketing and strategy for Federal-Mogul Motorparts. “She will be an exceptional representative of our company and the iconic Champion brand.”
Search for a Champion participants competed for a total prize purse of $125,000 in sponsorships. In addition to Ellingson’s $50,000 grand prize sponsorship, Federal-Mogul Motorparts awarded $5,000 Champion sponsorship packages to each of 15 finalists. The company also rewarded the Champion online community for its participation by distributing 200 voter sweepstakes prize packs featuring a Champion shirt, hat and decals.