Quantcast
peoplepill id: willy-t-ribbs
WTR
3 views today
3 views this week
Willy T. Ribbs

Willy T. Ribbs American racecar driver

American racecar driver
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American racecar driver
A.K.A. William Theodore Ribbs Jr.
Is Sports shooter Racecar driver
From United States of America
Type Sports
Gender male
Birth 3 January 1955, San Jose, USA
Age: 65 years
Star sign CapricornCapricorn
Willy T. Ribbs
The details
Biography

William Theodore Ribbs Jr. (born January 3, 1955) is a retired American race car driver, racing owner, and sport shooter known for being the first African-American man to have tested a Formula One car (he did so in 1986) and to compete in the Indianapolis 500. Ribbs competed in many forms of auto racing, including the Trans-Am Series, IndyCar, Champ Car, IMSA, and the NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series. After retiring, he became a sport shooter in the National Sporting Clays Association.

Ribbs saw his most success in the Trans-Am Series, winning 17 races while driving for such names as Dan Gurney and Jack Roush. Ribbs' talent was at times limited by a lack of good equipment, and eclipsed at times by his strong personality.

Biography

Ribbs won the SCCA Trans-Am race at Portland International Raceway in 1983.

Ribbs grew up in San Jose, California as one of five children in a middle-class family. His father William "Bunny" Ribbs, Sr. was a plumbing contractor and amateur sports car racer, and was friends and neighbors with Indy Car driver Joe Leonard. Ribbs was nearly killed at eight years old when an out-of-control car at a race struck him. As a teenager, Ribbs would take his car out in the California mountains at high speeds, frequently stopped by police for reckless driving. Ribbs proceeded to enter a racing school at the age of 21. Following his graduation from high school in 1975, Ribbs moved to Europe to compete. He won the Dunlop Championship in his first year of competition. In 1977, he competed in the Formula Ford Series in England, winning six races in eleven starts. Ribbs returned to the United States in 1978, making his debut in the Formula Atlantic open-wheel series at Long Beach on April 1, finishing 10th after running as high as 4th.

In May 1978, Charlotte Motor Speedway president and race promoter Humpy Wheeler entered Ribbs to drive a NASCAR Winston Cup car in the World 600 (now the Coca-Cola 600) at Charlotte in an effort to attract black fans to his racetrack. Ribbs was partnered with veteran crew chief Harry Hyde. After being initially rejected by track officials due to a lack of stock car experience, and when the Dodge Magnum Ribbs was supposed to drive was committed to another driver, Wheeler set Ribbs up with owner Will Cronkite and a Bud Moore Engineering-built Ford Torino. In addition to missing two practice sessions, his debut in NASCAR was derailed after being arrested for evading police when he drove the wrong way down a one-way street. According to Charlotte Observer reporter Tom Higgins, who suspects the incident to have been a publicity stunt due to Ribbs driving a speedway pace car, Ribbs outran the police before being apprehended in the gymnasium of Queens University of Charlotte. Cronkite replaced him with future champion Dale Earnhardt.

Ribbs returned to the Formula Atlantic series in 1981, winning the pole in the Long Beach Formula Atlantic race in 1982. The following year, Ribbs moved to the SCCA Trans-Am Series, driving Chevrolet Camaros with sponsorship from Budweiser. Ribbs won five races and was honored as Pro Rookie of the Year, while his teammate David Hobbs won the series championship. Ribbs won four races in 1984 driving factory-backed Mercury Capris for Roush Racing.

Ribbs' made his first attempt at the Indianapolis 500 in 1985, which ended in controversy when during testing he topped out at 170 miles per hour while other rookie drivers were running laps above 200 miles per hour. Ribbs proceeded to withdraw from the race altogether. The deal had been put together in part by boxing promoter Don King, who Ribbs hired to manage him, with sponsorship from Miller Brewing Company, but with a second hand Cosworth machine from Arie Luyendyk.

Ribbs attempted NASCAR again in 1986, running three races in the No. 30 Red Roof Inns car owned by DiGard Motorsports. His best finish came at his debut, a 22nd at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Also in 1986, Ribbs became the first black person to drive a Formula One car, when he tested for the Bernie Ecclestone-owned Brabham team at the Autódromo do Estoril, Portugal. Ultimately, Ribbs was not given the drive for the upcoming season. Lewis Hamilton became known as the first driver of black heritage to compete in an F1 championship. In 1987, Ribbs began driving Toyota Celicas for Dan Gurney in the IMSA GT Championship, winning four races.

Ribbs driving at Laguna Seca in 1991

In 1990, Ribbs joined the CART circuit in a car funded in-part by comedian Bill Cosby. Ribbs had one top-10 event that season. He was involved in an unfortunate incident in Vancouver when a group of track marshals ran onto the track to assist Ross Bentley who had stalled, however one of the marshals ran in front of Ribbs' car and the marshal was killed in the impact.

In 1991, he became the first African-American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. He raced there a second time in 1993. In 1994, he continued in the CART series with the team, finishing in the top 10 at the Michigan International Speedway and New Hampshire International Speedway races.

In 1999, Ribbs raced in an Indy Racing League IndyCar Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for McCormack Motorsports as a try-out to join the team full-time in 2000. However he crashed on lap four and finished in 26th and last place. After three top-10s the Trans-Am Series in 2000, Ribbs signed to drive the No. 8 Dodge Ram for Bobby Hamilton Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Driving 23 out of 24 races, Ribbs had a best finish of 13th, and finished 16th in points.

In May 2011, Ribbs announced he had formed Willy T. Ribbs Racing to campaign former NASCAR driver Chase Austin in the Firestone Indy Lights' Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which coincided with Ribbs' 20th anniversary of breaking the color barrier at Indy.

In 2019, Ribbs won the Indy Legends Charity Pro–Am race with co-driver Ed Sevadjian.

Controversy

Ribbs had received criticism for his strong personality during his career, sometimes from other African Americans in auto racing. Black car owner Leonard T. Miller felt Ribbs was not the best representative of the black community due to his outspoken nature. Ribbs has also spoken negatively about his experience in NASCAR. In May 2006, a newspaper column by Jason Whitlock of Knight-Ridder quoted Ribbs detailing his criticism of NASCAR and his lauding of the Indianapolis 500. Ribbs created controversy by referring to NASCAR as Al-Qaida, "Neckcar", and WWE.

In 1984, during a warm-up session at the SCCA Trans-Am Series season opener at Road Atlanta, Ribbs was fined $1,000 for throwing a punch at fellow driver Bob Lobenberg, after the two drivers made contact on the track. In 1987 following a race at Portland International Raceway, Ribbs was suspended by the International Motor Sports Association for one month after throwing a punch at driver Scott Pruett. Ribbs felt that Pruett had cost him a chance at winning the race.

Trivia

In the Disney Channel cartoon The Proud Family, Penny Proud and her friends attend "Willy T. Ribbs Middle School," where the mascot is the "Racer."

After retiring from racing, Ribbs turned to professional shooting, specializing in sporting clays. His son Theodore Ribbs is a professional sport shooter. Willy married hotel management executive Stephanie Bauer in August 2018.

Ribbs was featured in the 2020 documentary "Uppity", which released on Netflix.

Motorsports career results

American open–wheel racing results

(key)

PPG Indycar Series

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Rank Points
1984 Doug Shierson Racing LBH PHX INDY
MIL POR MEA CLE MCH ROA POC MDO SAN MCH PHX LAG CPL NC -
1985 AMI Racing LBH INDY
MIL POR MEA CLE MCH ROA POC MDO SAN MCH LAG PHX MIA NC -
1990 Raynor Motorsports PHX LBH
20
INDY MIL DET
20
POR CLE MEA
23
TOR
27
MCH DEN
26
VAN
10
MDO
27
ROA NAZ LAG
13
26th 3
1991 Walker Racing SRF LBH PHX INDY
32
MIL DET
11
POR CLE
22
MEA
10
TOR MCH DEN
6
VAN
21
MDO ROA
10
NAZ
17
LAG
12
17th 17
1992 Walker Racing SRF PHX LBH INDY DET POR MIL NHA TOR MCH CLE ROA VAN MDO NAZ LAG
25
57th 0
1993 Walker Racing SRF PHX LBH INDY
21
MIL
11
DET
12
POR
16
CLE
27
TOR
18
MCH
10
NHA
15
ROA
12
VAN
16
MDO
11
NAZ
19
LAG
28
20th 9
1994 Walker Racing SRF
18
PHX
28
LBH
18
INDY
DNQ
MIL
25
DET
16
POR
25
CLE
12
TOR
21
MCH
7
MDO
28
NHA
10
VAN
25
ROA
24
NAZ
18
LAG
11
22nd 12
Did not appear
Withdrew from rookie orientation

Indianapolis 500

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team
1984 DSR-1 Cosworth Wth Doug Shierson Racing
1985 March 85C Cosworth Wth AMI Racing
1991 Lola T9000 Buick 29 32 Raynor Motorsports
1993 Lola T9200 FordXB 30 21 Walker Racing
1994 Lola T9400 FordXB DNQ Walker Racing

Indy Racing League

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Team Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Rank Points
1999 McCormack Motorsports G-Force Oldsmobile WDW PHX INDY TXS PPIR ATL DOV PPIR LVS
26
TXS 47th 4

Indy Lights

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Rank Points
2011 Willy T. Ribbs Racing STP ALA LBH INDY MIL IOW TOR EDM1 EDM2 TRO NHM BAL
13
KTY LVS 29th 17

NASCAR

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Winston Cup Series

NASCAR Winston Cup Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 NWCC Pts
1986 DiGard Motorsports 30 Chevy DAY RCH CAR ATL BRI
DNQ
DAR NWS
22
MAR TAL DOV CLT
DNQ
MCH
39
DAY POC TAL GLN
37
MCH BRI DAR RCH DOV MAR NWS CLT CAR ATL RSD 65th 219
64 RSD
29
POC

Craftsman Truck Series

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 NCTC Pts
2001 Bobby Hamilton Racing 8 Dodge DAY
23
HOM
19
MMR
28
MAR
DNQ
GTY
20
DAR
29
PPR
13
DOV
19
TEX
25
MEM
17
MLW
18
KAN
15
KEN
30
NHA
18
IRP
20
NSH
24
CIC
28
NZH
18
RCH
20
SBO
28
TEX
19
LVS
25
PHO
19
CAL
18
16th 2319
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
comments so far.
Comments
Reference sources
References
http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/minority-report-where-did-all-progress-go
http://www.foxsports.com/nascar/story/willy-t-ribbs-took-to-the-track-and-always-fought-back-022114
https://www.nytimes.com/1988/10/09/magazine/the-hard-ride-of-willy-t.html?pagewanted=all
https://web.archive.org/web/20070715162522/http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/misc/where/stories/052306dnspowherenow.123a22a5.html
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/misc/where/stories/052306dnspowherenow.123a22a5.html
http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20085996,00.html
https://www.nytimes.com/1985/03/24/sports/black-driver-plans-to-be-firts-at-indy.html
https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1978/04/02/110821756.pdf
http://www.complex.com/sports/2012/02/an-oral-history-of-black-nascar-drivers/
https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1978/05/19/110956108.pdf
https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1978/05/11/110950813.pdf
arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up arrow-down instagram whatsapp myspace quora soundcloud spotify tumblr vk website youtube stumbleupon comments comments pandora gplay iheart tunein pandora gplay iheart tunein itunes