The elephantea Story | IMSA

Ron launched his return to professional racing in the 2019 IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Series with the exciting platform to market his elephantea, a premium tea company and elephant conservation awareness programs through his eTeaRacing effort. US Racetronics Team, a leader in the IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo Series, prepares the No. 24 elephantea/ShipOCI/ Lamborghini of San Diego Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo EVO entry for Atapattu. Team owner, Shane Seneviratne, is also from Sri Lanka and shares Atapattu’s appreciation for the native Sri Lankan elephants, along with an affection for racing.

Atapattu first started racing professionally in June 1996 as the only U.S. driver out of 28 in the unique Lamborghini Diablo SVR No. 24 in a special race prior to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He continued to compete in the Stephane Ratel Organization (SRO) Lamborghini Super Sport Series for five more years as the only American entry. He competed in various IMSA races until 2003 when business commitments curbed his racing career. His return to racing Lamborghinis and IMSA is a bridge between the past and future. He is the only current driver in the IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo Series who previously competed in the Super Sports Series.

A Little Background:

Ron was born and raised in Sri Lanka and is a descendant of generations of tea lovers and elephant activists. Ron exposed his daughters, Shani and Sarah, to his love of Sri Lankan culture and his commitment to preserving its beauty for generations to come.

After Shani got married, Ron was even more committed to passing along the family’s rich history of the beautiful Sri Lankan land and his love of the elephants of his native homeland. On the one-year anniversary of Shani and her husband, Rich, Ron’s gift to the newlyweds was a trip to Sri Lanka with him.

First Thought: Sip Tea

While in Sri Lanka, the family became immersed in the vibrant culture of the island and exposed to the many delicious varieties of native Ceylon tea. Ron, an avid tea drinker, made sure to educate his family on the differences in the many assortments, the superior quality and the historical tradition of the Ceylon tea. After traveling through Sri Lanka’s beautiful Golden Valley and witnessing the actual processes involved in the production of a world-class tea, Shani was smitten with all that was a part of her heritage.

Second Thought: Save Elephants

Ron also planned an educational trip and adventure into the deep brush in order for the family to enjoy the rare opportunity to observe wild elephant herds roaming through the verdant rainforests and jungles of Sri Lanka. It was during these breathtaking moments in the wild that Shani learned the sad reality that Asian elephants are severely endangered, with only an estimated 50,000 Asian elephants remaining worldwide and only a few thousand of those left in Sri Lanka.

Moved by her experiences and feeling the need to create awareness and proactive change, Shani approached Ron about founding a socially-responsible tea company to assist in the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants. After traveling back to the United States, Shani worked feverishly to grow what was only a dream into what now is a movement to create change: #SipTeaSaveElephants

This is how elephantea started.

With Shani at the helm, elephantea is dedicated to not only bringing its customers a ground-breaking selection of hand-picked, organic Ceylon teas from Sri Lanka, but also committed to raising awareness of the plight and conservation efforts of Sri Lanka elephants.

elephantea is humbled and honored by the opportunity to make a real difference in helping these majestic animals thrive and roam free.

The Mission:

elephantea is committed to providing our customers with the world’s finest qualify Ceylon teas while using a percentage of all profits in supporting multiple conservation efforts for the free roaming elephants of Sri Lanka. Every time you enjoy any of our premium tea products, you are helping to save these magnificent animals. Our teas are organic, fair-trade and kosher.

The Passion:

The wild elephants of Sri Lanka are intertwined with the nation’s ecology, culture, and religion and pre-date human inhabitants on the island by thousands of years. The verdant landscape of dense forests, grassy wetlands and steep mountains have provided abundant resources throughout their historical migration paths. With the rapid expansion of human population over the past two centuries, the elephants’ natural habitat has been altered and reduced dramatically, with only about 11% of the natural wetlands remaining and the free ranging elephant population estimated at under 5,000.

Ron Atapattu grew up in Sri Lanka. As a teen he became aware of the country’s fragile ecosystem and its co-dependence with the people. Centuries old family plantations of tea, rubber, rice and coconuts thrive throughout the country, where once only forests existed. The tea plantation in the Bogawantalawa region, where elephantea is produced, is over 160 years old.

Ron’s love for animals and nature came at an early age, as he would watch his uncle provide veterinary care for many farm animals. Dr. Shelton Atapattu was a world-renowned elephant veterinarian and an early pioneer in treating wounded elephants in the wild. He would later serve as deputy director of veterinary research for the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Over the years, Ron has dedicated himself to educating his daughters and others on the importance of protecting these magnificent animals and utilizes his business success to further this cause. elephantea was launched for the sole purpose of providing the finest Ceylon teas to the world, grown in a region where elephants and humans compete for resources, and using the proceeds to mitigate human-elephant conflict throughout his native Sri Lanka.

The charities elephantea currently supports are Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society (SLWCS), Elefriendly Bus, Project Orange Elephant, EleVETS and New Life Elephant Sanctuary (NLES).

For more information, please visit or the elephant charity websites at: ,, and

Original story from IMSA: