(CBS Local / CBS SF) – Superstar Racing Experience updated its driver roster on Wednesday and announced that Willy T. Ribbs Jr. will join the series for its inaugural season in summer 2021. Ribbs competed in a variety of racing disciplines throughout his season, finding his greatest success in the Trans-Am series, where he garnered 17 wins.
However, he is better known for breaking down barriers in sports. He was the first black man to qualify and race at the 1991 Indianapolis 500, and then was the first to test a Formula 1 car. His story of the challenges he faced in racing now lives on Netflix in the documentary Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story.
Now he's adding another chapter to that story, joining the all-star cast of SRX, which already includes Bobby Labonte.
Helio Castroneves, Paul Tracy and Tony Kanaan. If you think his competitive fire is gone, Ribbs won the VROC Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am last year. He says when he got the call from SRX co-founder Ray Evernham he was immediately interested.
"I got a call from Ray Evernham a few months ago and he said we were going to bring IROC back, only it would be SRX," Ribbs Jr. said in an interview with Ryan Mayer of CBS Local. “I told him I would go ahead with it, he told me the line-up and I was really interested when he mentioned the suggested names. It's like a pro bowl. "
That Pro Bowl aspect of the races with some of the best riders in all disciplines that fans have seen creates an atmosphere that the competitor in Ribbs simply loves.
“All of you you mentioned are bad cats. If you get an alley full of bad cats, you have fur everywhere. When he mentioned it, I was definitely there, ”said Ribbs. "I think it's going to be a great show because everyone, the names you just canceled are going to make for a damn good show. And the fans, the fans are going to love it because, like I said, we're crazy. Two the races are dirty and you know what happens when you're dirty? You get dirty. "
He says the trash talk has already started in preparation for next summer. He also has a friend who will help him train for these grueling races. You can know him.
“The cake is going in the oven. I'll get my buddy Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard and I have been friends for almost 40 years and he will take me to the gym, get me in shape and then I'll call Uncle Bobby like ours, ”said Ribbs with a smile. "It's going to be a classic series."
One of the main selling points Evernham mentioned when announcing the series is that they are tracks that racers grew up on and that don't get the same national glitz as others. For Ribbs, these new tracks just make for a more fun competition.
"I know there will be some new tracks," said Ribbs. "I think that's great because we're all going to start over on new territory, which makes it even more competitive."
Getting back on track is nowhere near the only thing Ribbs is up to at the moment. The documentary produced by Adam Carrolla and Nate Adams is on Netflix and he's been thrilled with the response to it.
“It was actually my piece in the Paul Newman documentary The Racing Life, and I did a lot in this film. After that was done Adam Carrolla and Nate Adams called me and said we have a lot of feedback on what you've done and people are very interested in hearing what happened in your career, "said Ribbs. “I told you on one condition. We tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I told them that there will be some people who will be hurt. But like my grandpa used to say on the ranch, that's what bums are for getting hurt. "
While there have been people who could be hurt by the documentary, many more were moved by the story and turned to Ribbs. He mentions that because of his story, there are a few more projects coming up for fans to keep an eye on.
Although the response was great, the fight for diversity in motor racing continues. For Ribbs, the way to fix this is to have people in positions of power who have the capital to build a team to get involved.
"My career has been up and down, but I've been good enough to keep up with fights as well," Ribbs said. “But without Bill Cosby, I would never have been in the Indy Car, I would never have been in the Indy 500. For all the things that have happened in Bill's career now, he wouldn't have been I would never have been to the Indy 500. He pushed it in. People are needed who have such resources, such as LeBron James or MJ (Michael Jordan). You don't have to do a damn thing, but if the sport is to go forward, it will take the capital of color. Then it will happen. "
Ribbs is currently preparing for the opening season 2021 with the start of the championship. If he wins, we can also see his signature ceremony: the Muhammad Ali Shuffle.
"If I win, I now need a stepladder to get there. I used to be able to jump off the ground, I can't do that anymore," said Ribbs with a smile. "I'll do the best I can."
The Superstar Racing Experience is coming to CBS Television Network in the summer of 2021.