The pioneering San Jose native became the first African-American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 (1991) and the first black driver to test a Formula 1 car (1986), in so doing opening the door for other drivers of color, including Lewis Hamilton, Antron Brown and Bubba Wallace. Ribbs’ shocked the world in 1977 by winning the UK’s Dunlop/Autosport Star of Tomorrow Formula Ford championship against future F1 stars like Nigel Mansell despite almost no racing experience. He proved it wasn’t a fluke in his pole-winning Formula Atlantic debut the following year in Long Beach, running as high as 4th before mechanical issues. Ribbs enjoyed his greatest success in sedans, winning 17 SCCA Trans-Am and 12 IMSA GT/GTO races, being named 1983 Trans-Am Rookie of the Year and 1987 and ’88 IMSA GTO Driver of the Year. Forays into NASCAR and 46 IndyCar starts in second-rate machinery yielded few great results beyond his Indianapolis milestones. The subject of the 2020 documentary Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story, Ribbs contested the 2021 Superstar Racing Experience (SRX).