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DATE News (chronologically)
09/05/11
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Ribbs finishes 13th in Indy Lights, goes back into retirement
Willy T. Ribbs learns that open wheel racing is a young mans game
Willy T. Ribbs is going back into retirement.

Ribbs, who became the first African-American to race in the Indianapolis 500 in 1991 and hadn't raced in an Indy car in 17 years, finished 13th out of 16 drivers in the Firestone Indy Lights event Sunday. Ribbs quit after 28 laps.

"I physically ran out of gas," said Ribbs, 56.

Ribbs said that he lost radio contact with his Willy T. Ribbs/Starting Grid, Inc. team after two laps. Had he known he only had seven laps left, "I would have found a way to push the car across the finish line," he said a few hours later.

Ribbs said "It was good to be back in the cockpit but I was far from being in condition to be competitive."

There will be no more Indy races in the future.

"I have no plans of continuing, especially in Indy car," he said.

What Ribbs enjoyed most was having his 20-year-old son, Theo, a world class trap shooter, see him compete in an Indy event.

"I've spent a lot of time watching him compete, so it was nice for him to see his daddy compete," Ribbs said. "The last time he saw me race he was 9 years old."

Chris Miles, fellow principle at Willy T. Ribbs Racing and founder of Starting Grid, Inc., said he was proud of Ribbs — his "hero."

"I saw this man get into a race car for the first time in 17 years and performed like the man I knew he was," Miles said. "At the end of the day, he completely ran out of gas. I failed him in the sense of not giving him the opportunity to prepare properly for this race. He took on the challenge and showed that he is still a champion and I love him for it." Baltimore Sun

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