Willy T. Ribbs

Infobox racing driver
name = Willy T. Ribbs, Jr.


pixels =
caption =
nationality = flagicon|USA American
date of birth = Birth date and age|1955|1|3
place of birth = San Jose, California
date of death =
retired = 2001
related to =
last series = CART World Series
years active = 1990-1994
teams = Raynor Motorsports
Walker Racing
starts = 46
wins = 0
poles = 0
fastest laps =
best finish = 17th
year = 1991
prev series = NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Indy Racing League IndyCar Series
NASCAR Winston Cup
Trans-Am Series
North American Formula Atlantic
prev series years = 2001
1999
1986
1983
1982
titles =
title years =
awards =
award years =

William "Willy" Theodore Ribbs, Jr. (born January 3, 1955 in San Jose, California) is an African-American racecar driver who competed in many forms of auto racing. After retiring, he became a sport shooter in the National Sporting Clays Association.

Following his graduation from high school in 1975, Ribbs moved to Europe to compete in the Formula Ford Series. He won the Dunlop Championship in his first year of competition, then returned to the United States.

Lowe's Motor Speedway president Humpy Wheeler entered Ribbs to drive a Winston Cup car owned by Will Cronkite in the 1978 World 600 at the Charlotte track. After Ribbs skipped two practice sessions and was arrested for evading police when he drove the wrong way down a one way street, Cronkite replaced him with Dale Earnhardt. [cite news |url=http://www.nascar.com/2008/news/headlines/cup/05/20/1978.coca.cola.600/index.html |title= Ribbs' wrong turn... |date=2008-05-20]

Ribbs went on to race Formula Atlantic cars, winning the pole in the Long Beach Formula Atlantic race in 1982. The following year, Ribbs won five races in the SCCA Trans-Am Series and was honored as Pro Rookie of the Year. Ribbs would attempt NASCAR again in 1986, running three races in the #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 Brabham team at the Autódromo do Estoril, Portugal. [cite news |url=http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2006/09/14/first-black-formula-one-driver/ |title= First black Formula One driver... |author=Keith Collantine |date=2006-09-24 |accessdate=2006-09-24 |publisher=F1Fanatic.co.uk] .

In 1990, Ribbs joined the CART circuit in a car owned by comedian Bill Cosby. Ribbs had two top-10 events that season, and in 1991, he became the first African-American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. He raced there a second time in 1993. After being released from the team in 1994, he continued in the CART series with another team, finishing in the top 10 at Michigan International Speedway and Denver Grand Prix races.

Also in 1990, Ribbs was involved in an unfortunate incident during the Molson Indy Vancouver where a track marshal was killed. The track worker, Jean Patrick Hein, was pushing another car off the track when he unfortunately darted in front of Ribbs' car, was run over, and killed.

In 1999, Ribbs raced in an Indy Racing League event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, finishing 26th after a crash. After three top-10s in the SCCA in 2000, Ribbs signed to drive the #8 Dodge Ram for Bobby Hamilton Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series. Driving 23 out of 24 races, Ribbs had a best finish of 13th, and finished 16th in points.

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. [ [http://motorsports-soapbox.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_archive.html Motorsports Soapbox blog (June 3, 2006): "Willy T. Who?" by Dave Moody] ]

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."

References

External links

* [http://www.willytribbs.com Official Website]
* [http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/spt/misc/where/stories/052306dnspowherenow.123a22a5.html "Dallas Morning News" (May 23, 2006): "Where Are They Now? Indy 500 driver Willy T. Ribbs now shoots for the top", by Chuck Carlton]
* [http://www.racing-reference.info/driver?id=ribbswi01 NASCAR statistics]
* [http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=169 The HistoryMakers]

ee also

* Lewis Hamilton, first black driver to compete in a Formula One race.


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