Willy T. Ribbs,
"Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story"
Directed by Nate Adams and Adam Carolla, the documentary Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story chronicles how individual and systemic racism hurt the auto-racing career of Willy T. Ribbs, the first black driver to qualify for the Indy 500. The documentary traces the California native’s childhood ambitions to race cars to his dominating wins in the Formula Ford Series in 1970s England to the struggles he faced trying to break into the NASCAR and Formula One circuits. He would eventually become a Trans-Am Series fixture. With Bill Cosby’s backing, Ribbs joined the CART circuit and qualified in 1991 for the Indy 500 but left the race after five laps with car problems. He would compete again in the Indy 500 in 1993, finishing 21st. Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story, which is now streaming at Netflix, also focuses on the men who mentored and/or supported Ribbs, including Muhammad Ali, Paul Newman, automobile racing team owner Jim Trueman, and Ribbs’ childhood idol, racing car driver Dan Gurney. The documentary includes interviews with Ribbs’ teammate and rival David Hobbs, former Formula One Group chief executive Bernard Charles Ecclestone, and Caitlyn Jenner, who raced in the IMSA Camel GT series against Ribbs. Nate Adams and Adam Carolla previously directed the documentary Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman. The now-retired Willy T. Ribbs lives in Driftwood.
Aired: February 13, 2020