Hamilton, Hope and History: Willy T. Ribbs’ Pioneering F1 Pass | Formula One

AAlways frank and always funny, Willy T Ribs has never pulled a punch.On the eve of the Miami Grand Prix, a groundbreaking black American driver is usually enthusiastic about praising Lewis Hamilton, who he believes has changed radically. Formula one.. “Before I met him, I knew he was coming second,” he says. “No other driver will be as successful as Lewis Hamilton in 200 years.”

Ribs is bold and confident, and at the age of 67, he speaks with authority and wisdom, a smile never far from his lips, who struggled to gain his position in the history of racing. Ribs was the first black driver to test an F1 car for Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team in Estril in 1986 and the first African-American to qualify for the Indy 500 in 1991.

In his long career, he overcame racism, and although he went beyond “one-based opposition, barriers, denials: my skin color” to death threats, Faced with it with a fearless bang. “It could demoralize many people, I wasn’t,” he says. “I love fighting. It builds a personality and I was going to fight until I couldn’t breathe anymore.”

In Miami this weekend, F1 is celebrating its new success in the United States. For the first time since 1984, there will be two races in the country, next year Las Vegas will be added to Miami and Texas will be three. Ribs is pleased that his beloved sport has turned up again in the United States since he wore a diaper, but an integral part of Hamilton should be recognized in it. Claims.

“When I was talking to Muhammad Ali, he told me that everyone, no matter what color you were, would be the champion, and Lewis is in that Muhammad Ali league,” he said. say. “He is now at that level, as far as the interest from all people, especially those of color who have never had it and never had a representative who looks like them.

“Currently, Lewis Hamilton in this country is a huge name consisting of African Americans and people of color. He is all over the world, but in this country he is a mega. Sports now has him. Put it in, he opened it and attracted the attention of millions of colors around the world. That’s the biggest thing for F1. So far, a cross with the charm of a crossover. It’s oversport. “

Willy T. Ribbs rode a Toyota GTO race car at the Sebring International Raceway in 1988, driving IndyCar, Champ Car, Transam, NASCAR and Imsa in his career. Photo: Rick Doll / Getty Images

T stands for Theodore, but is always truncated. When his name is mentioned by former world champion Mario Andretti, the great man immediately lovingly says, “Oh, Willy T.” Ribs is currently a representative of F1’s diversity and inclusiveness. This initiative began effectively when Hamilton insisted that F1 needed to address these issues while defending the Black Lives Matter movement. Ribbs was aware of the amount of work needed to be done and actively participated.

He came to Europe in 1975 and pursued his dreams until 2001, racing in a wide range of fields including IndyCar, Champ Car, Transam, NASCAR and Imsa. He won 17 in the Trans-Am Series, but grew up to love F1 in a family dinner table conversation about Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and Stirling Moss in California.

He learned his technique in the UK and hit Nigel Mansell and the wheel at Brands Hatch’s Formula Ford, both drivers winning the podium. This is an experience he remembers with a wide smile. “We banged it during the race, it was absolutely ruthless and fun, but it was beautiful,” he says. “After the race, we went around the track behind the track with the laurel wreath on. We shook hands and Nigel and I are still friends today and love him to death.”

He remembers how Stirling Moss and John Surtees were welcomed by Britain with their arms outstretched, how they only saw fast drivers, and that his race didn’t want to define him. increase. “I thought of myself as a race driver, not a driver of a particular color. I didn’t think of anyone other than a race driver, such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt. I didn’t see them as white race drivers. I saw them as great race drivers. “

In 1986 the test was still a drive with Brabham, but Ribs was happy to have a shot. In Indianapolis in 1991, he screamed roundly as he raced in qualifying by dragging a poorly performing car. However, on the weekend when the car was bitten by the engine replacement six times, the sixth time came out on the fifth lap and I was disappointed. He returned to Brickyard in 1993, this time flagging in 21st place.

He did not consider the influence of his achievements at the time. He saw them only as part of his ambition to be the best driver possible. Still, his legacy as the first black driver to perform these steps was as important as he now admits, especially by Hamilton, who invited him to the race as a guest. “At the 2012 USGP, I spoke with his father, Anthony, who said:

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Ribs believes Hamilton is doing an equally exciting job in F1 to secure a future audience in the United States, but of course only Willy T is undertaking it.

“I think Lewis is the best ambassador for diversity and inclusion, and Willy T Ribs is the second best ambassador. We stood in the front row,” he said with a laugh. “Using the Lewis and Willy T as engines for an F1-powered chassis is the best sport we’ve seen in America right now. The F1 is bigger than ever.”

Hamilton, Hope and History: Willy T. Ribbs’ Pioneering F1 Pass | Formula One

Source link Hamilton, Hope and History: Willy T. Ribbs’ Pioneering F1 Pass | Formula One

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