History was made on Sept. 4 as Australian native race driver Will Power celebrated his victory in the first-ever IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix race held in downtown Baltimore City near the inner harbor. Power edged Spanish driver Oriol Servia by 10.2096 seconds for first place.
And while veteran race car driver Willie T. Ribbs didn’t come close to placing in the race, he was elated to be a part of the primetime affair. Ribbs, the first African American to qualify for the Indy 500, made history of his own by coming out of a 17-year retirement to race in Baltimore’s inaugural motorsport event.
At age 56, Ribbs is old enough to be the grandfather of most of the drivers who competed in the race, so he had no expectations of reaching the winner’s circle, especially after sitting out for nearly two decades. But he told the AFRO that the competitor in him still pushed him to give it all he had in the race.
“I think I did okay considering I haven’t been behind a racecar wheel in so many years, but I could have done better,” said Ribbs, explaining how he finished just four laps short of his goal of simply crossing the finish point. “I really only had one day to practice, so I couldn’t knock off all the rust, but at least you can say that when it was time race, I didn’t back down from the challenge.”
Ribbs told the AFRO he is uncertain whether he’ll continue racing or go back into retirement. For now, he just wants to heal up his body after such a sore ride.
“I feel like a lion has been biting and clawing at my butt,” Ribbs said. “But I really enjoyed being a part of history. It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.”