2015 Grand Prize Winner

Carly Jo
Ellingson

  • Racing Type
    Asphalt
  • Location
    Rapid City, SD

I first heard about Search for A Champion contest in 2013, after a female drag bike racer from the Black Hills area began spreading the word about her entry. I thought a lot about what she said at the time, and I decided to enter the the contest in 2015when my dad reminded me about the contest. I wasn't incredibly serious about it, as I still didn't know what all would be required of me, but I did jump right in and ended up finishing nearly half of my submission video in one night!

In my opinion, the process was fairly easy, although I was still nervous to finally submit my story for the world to see. I was lucky to have had an excellent support system that continuously urged me to enter; however, which gave me the confidence to go through with the submission process.

Looking back now, the submission process really was of a lot of work. I am a perfectionist, who (at the time) had no experience with video editing, sound dubbing, or anything more than GoPro recording. My lack of experience definitely made it harder for me to put together a video that would represent my accomplishments and talents, and it also made the preparation time much longer. While I did get frustrated once or twice, the process of putting together a video submission for Search for A Champion contest was a lot of fun! It was extremely rewarding for many reasons, including the fact that I learned so much about how a person can create videos that can be enjoyed by so many other individuals. In addition, every time I sat down to work on my entry I could see the progress that was being made, which was very exciting! While I put countless hours into critiquing and editing my video, I enjoyed virtually every second of it. Of course, in the end, all of the hard work and long nights paid off, as voters saw what a drive I had for success and the love I had for the sport of drag racing, which fueled my journey to being crowned the Grand Prize winner of the 2015 Search for A Champion contest!

Carly Jo's Epic Journey

Asphalt

The whole process taught me how to present myself as a "sponsorable" public figure. Because I have had other big name sponsors on board with my operation before, I knew what a substantial part of representing a company or brand is to carry oneself in a way that would make them proud. During the contest, I took that knowledge to heart and made sure that I was making a good name for myself as a strong female in NHRA drag racing. I also improved on my public speaking skills greatly by guest hosting on a number of radio shows, and pitching my campaign to various local businesses and television stations.

Since winning Search for A Champion in 2015, my life has changed pretty drastically. When I found out, I thought it was too good to be true! I was speechless! I was so thankful for all of the support that I received, and for the family, friends, and fans that believed in me so much throughout the voting process!

champion has given me the means that are necessary to climb through the ranks of nhra drag racing, one step at a time!

I’ve since become a very well-known face in drag racing these days, which has helped me to promote my operation and take on a whole new world of competition! My team and I have been able to travel more in the past two years than we probably ever could have, and that was all thanks to Search for AChampion. Additionally, if I hadn't won the grand prize in 2015, we probably couldn't have made all the repairs and improvements on the car that had to be made in the past two seasons. What's more, Champion has helped me become better known in the racing community as a strong, talented racer. Champion has given me the means that are necessary to climb through the ranks of NHRA drag racing, one step at a time!

Being a part of #TeamChampion has been a blessing and an honor. I wouldn't have the career and following that I have now, if it hadn't been for Search for A Champion and the Champion family! I feel so lucky to know and be associated with my teammates, as they are kind, supportive, talented racers, who never fail to impress me with their skills on and off the track. My entire experience as a #TeamChampion driver has been extremely rewarding, and something that I am very proud of!

One of the most important parts about my win was that I learned what an incredible fan base that Champion's followers are, and what an amazing honor it is to be a part of the Champion family. I couldn't ask for a better brand to represent, or for a greater product to promote. Winning Search for A Champion truly was a blessing, and I am still so excited to be associated with Champion and Federal-Mogul Motorparts!

While my team's plans are still a work in progress, we have experimented with Super Series NHRA drag racing, and toyed with the idea of switching classes or running different events. With the knowledge we now have, and with the continued support of Champion and Federal-Mogul Motorparts, we expect to make waves at many of the races in our 2017 race season, including three big money races within Grove Creek Raceway's Mini-Series, Thunder Valley Dragways' annual Harvest Gambler's Race, and possibly the Million Dollar Drag Race at Montgomery Raceway Park! We are excited to continue on with Champion in our corner, and to drive Ol' Paint into many more winner's circles!

My advice to future participants is to stay organized, get aggressive with your promotional efforts, enjoy the little victories that come with promoting your entry, and never give up! For me, winning Search for A Champion wouldn't have been possible if not for the support of my fellow racers, muscle car enthusiasts, my local and statewide community, friends and family, as well as individuals of social media that enjoyed being a part of such an exciting cause. Because of that, I would definitely urge future participants to reach out to anyone and everyone for help spreading the word about your Search for A Champion entry! You may be surprised by the following it is possible to gain by simply sharing your story.