Veteran NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Chip Ellis received a truly unexpected phone call Wednesday.

“I got a call from (Vance & Hines team co-owner) Terry (Vance),” Ellis said. “I didn’t know anything about anything. I was as surprised as anybody could be surprised when he asked me if I wanted to ride one of their Harley-Davidson Street Rods at Pomona as a tribute to Junior Pippin. This is amazing and I’m pretty much speechless to have this opportunity.”

The season-ending NHRA Auto Club Finals are Nov. 9-12 in Pomona, Calif.

Ellis has been racing for good friend and long-time team owner Pippin since mid-May of the 2015 season. 

Ellis finished sixth in the 2015 points standings – highlighted by two runner-up finishes at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, and Reading, Pa., and three No. 1 qualifier spots at Englishtown, N.J., Chicago and Indy.

Then, in 2016, Ellis placed fifth in the points standings and captured one win at the fall race in Charlotte, N.C. This season, Ellis has competed in nine races and is 14th in the points. 

Pippin was diagnosed with nasal cancer shortly after the NHRA’s Route 66 Nationals July 9-12 of 2015 in Chicago, and he started chemotherapy and radiation Aug. 31 of that year.

Pippin, who lives in Conyers, Ga., is still in the midst of his cancer fight. The following was posted on the Junior Pippin Facebook page Thursday.

Good afternoon J.P Nation, family and friends. Apologies for the JPR Facebook page silence over the last couple of months. Simply stated, we are honoring Junior's family request for privacy during this time. J.P Racing ask for your continued love and prayers. We will post all team updates when and as requested by Junior's family.

The post continued and talked about the exciting and honoring news for team JPR and Chip (Ellis) for the NHRA PSM Pomona race.

“We’re praying for Junior,” Ellis said. 

Ellis is no stranger to the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team as he worked in that team’s headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind., from 2009-2014.

“(Wednesday) when Terry called me he said, ‘what leathers do you have?,’” Ellis said. “I said I still have my Vance & Hines leathers, and he said I want you to wear your Junior Pippin leathers. I said Terry, you’re going to make me cry. Terry said I want to do this for Junior and we appreciate all he has done for the sport of drag racing. I appreciate this opportunity and it makes me feel good that they have the confidence in me to send me out on a brand-new bike.”

Andrew Hines tested the new Street Rod Monday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway following the Toyota Nationals Oct. 29.

“Andrew told me the bike was very competitive and it would have qualified second (at the Las Vegas race),” Ellis said. “I’ve ridden a lot different bikes and a ton of Pro Stock bikes, sure it will be different, and I just want to make sure I stay focused and ride the bike to the best of my ability. Once we get that first run under our belt, we will be able to tune from there. These guys have a lot of experience with this engine and there are giving me bad a** stuff.”