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1991 Willy T Ribbs IMS

1991 Willy T Ribbs IMSTwenty-five years after Willy T. Ribbs broke the color barrier at the Indy 500, RACER spoke with the retired open-wheel and sports car ace about the 1991 race, his views on its impact, Ribbs' life today, and whether the recent scandal involving former sponsor Bill Cosby has altered their relationship.

"I thought I was going to stop traveling when I quit racing," Ribbs said of supporting his son Theo, a top marksman and competitive skeet shooter. "I'm traveling more now than ever. Theo's top five in the world. He is incredible. Tony Parella of SVRA, he is one of Theo's sponsors. And it is a good deal. And I will do anything for Tony. That [vintage] race he has at Indy every year, I told Tony 'I'll be in there when you want as long as you want.'"

As a byproduct of being the first African-American to race in the Indy 500, Ribbs hoped to see more drivers of a darker hue follow in his footsteps, just as he credited his hero and stock car driver Joie Ray for inspiring him to pursue his dreams. A quarter century later, Ribbs says Indy has succeeded in becoming more gender neutral, but that's all.

imsc4542"The biggest difference is that there have been nine women that have competed in the Indianapolis 500," he continued. "That's history. There's been two African-Americans. And [George Mack] only did it once and I was there twice. It really shows that the sport has really gone nowhere in terms of its ... not 'diversity', that's a broad term ... it's gone nowhere in this country as a series for all Americans to enjoy."

Ribbs points to three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton as the beacon for what is possible in IndyCar.

"You look at Lewis Hamilton today, for example. When I tested Bernie Ecclestone's Formula 1 car in Estoril, Portugal in 1985, that was the year that Lewis Hamilton was born. That puts it all into perspective," he said.

"You look at Lewis, what he has done for the sport of Formula 1 in terms of its market value and the image of Formula 1, how great it looks. And Bernie Ecclestone wants that for his sport. My question is: does IndyCar want it for their sport?"

Widening IndyCar's appeal to more than its traditional base is, in Ribbs' estimation, key to restoring its popularity.

"If they can't see it by looking in the stands and if they can't see it by looking at their rating numbers, then they are totally ignorant and should not be in the position that they are in," he said of the series' leadership. "The sponsors of the sport should be looking at the same picture. They should be looking into the stands. They should be looking at their TV numbers and be able to get it figured out. They couldn't be that dumb.

"Right now IndyCar ... IndyCar can't pay people to watch it. I saw the numbers from Long Beach. That, to me, after 25 years, is probably the most glaring observation."

In light of the more sensitive times we live in, Ribbs was asked whether the racial-tinged humor that took place between himself and his former employer Dan Gurney at Indy in 1991 would even be possible to carry out today.

"Well, the PC police in this country and a lot of the PC police are among the so-called mainstream media or liberal media, they need a job," he said of the odd gift exchange between the two. "Gurney would send me watermelon and fried chicken, and I'm sending him back a jar of mayonnaise. If the PC police feel that in their mind they don't like or feel it is appropriate in their mind, then they are going to attack.

"Look, I've known Dan my whole life. I know the man who I raced for and he was a mentor to me. When it came to being fair and equal and putting me on a level playing field, it was Dan Gurney. What Dan knew is I could win. And I won for him. That was Dan's number one priority, was to win.

"And then after when we were going to have the greatest champagne parties in restaurants - I mean, we shut down three restaurants one time. I mean, they had to close it down to clean the place up because there was champagne everywhere. It was very 'family'. I'm still close to members of All American Racers to this day. We had fun with each other back then, and if people didn't like it, or don't like it today, they can kiss my ..."

Ribbs will also be the subject of a new documentary produced by Adam Carolla's team in 2017, to which Willy T says, "It's going to be huge, it's going to be amazing, as my old buddy Donald Trump would say."

Willy T Ribbs Cosby 1990 Raynor Press KitEver the rebel, and rarely concerned with taking the popular viewpoint, Ribbs' loyal nature hasn't changed in reaction to the troubling charges against Bill Cosby, who backed Ribb's 1991 Indy entry. Most people would distance themselves from the alleged and accused sexual predator, but Ribbs' ride-or-die mentality won't allow that to happen.

"I'm really glad you asked, because in the last five years, that is one of the biggest changes from the standpoint in my life that is directly related to Indy. It was his money that put me in Indy. Without Cosby I would not have been there in 1991," he said.

"I'm going to back Mr. Cosby. I'm going to support him. I've never bolted from a fight. Or from backing someone who backed me. I know the kind of person he has been to me and to my family. Being a single father, his wife, Camille, helped me feed my kids when I was out of racing. I haven't forgotten that and I will never will. I'm not that way. I've never been that kind of person. I will fight for those who have fought for me."

2005 Wheldon LATOn Sunday, one of the cars in Gasoline Alley is going to be wheeled out onto the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and race 500 miles into Victory Lane. Since 1911, 99 cars have made that same journey - and here they are.

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Oriol Hinch 2016 SPM by PruettFive years ago, James Hinchcliffe was an Indy 500 rookie learning from Newman/Haas Racing teammate Oriol Servia (below). With the CART and Champ Car veteran playing the role of mentor to the young Canadian, the duo formed an effective partnership in 2011 and Hinchcliffe went on to amplify the successful Andretti Autosport program the following year.

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Three race wins later, Hinch was on the move in 2015 to lead Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and with this year's triumphant return to Indy after his devastating crash, he's not only won pole position for Sunday's race, but he's also been reunited with his old friend Servia who joined SPM for the month of May.

Orio Hinch 2011 NHR by Pruett"In a lot of ways, the foundation of everything I've learned since that point started with him," Hinchcliffe told RACER. "For me, one of the big validations of that was the second day of practice here. He and I came in, downloaded our thoughts to our engineers individually, then did our group debrief, and it was like you took the words out of my mouth and put them in his, and vice versa. I credit him a lot on how my feel developed on an oval in an Indy car. I credit Andretti a lot, too, but it all started at this track with this guy."

Five years after schooling the 500 newcomer, Servia says he's proud to see him develop into an IndyCar championship contender.

"He actually forgot all he knew," Servia said with a wry smile, which caused Hinchcliffe to break into a deep laugh. "He's actually doing quite well. I don't think he's any faster from when he was a rookie, because he's already fast, but what I feel is he's more confident. Not in his driving, but in what he wants from the car and how to deliver the message to the engineers, which happens with experience. He had great schooling at Andretti and has taken it here and done very well. It makes an old man feel proud."

Hinch also poked fun at Servia, who recently achieved a long-held dream of driving for Roger Penske when he subbed for the injured Will Power at St. Petersburg.

"He grew up to be a Penske driver, so he's big time now," he added.

"It's true, it's true," Servia replied. "Joking aside, it felt like we hit the ground running. When you come into a new team, you never know how the communication will be, if he's going to be open or not, and there wasn't any of that from the first second. This has been really good."

 14P6691

Daniel Ricciardo claimed his first Formula 1 pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix, winning a close qualifying fight with the Mercedes drivers for Red Bull.

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A stunning 1m13.622s lap on Ricciardo's first run in Q3 proved enough to get the job done, as Red Bull claimed its first pole since the last V8-engined season of F1 in 2013 and the Australian took his first in F1.

Nico Rosberg was second fastest for Mercedes, 0.169 seconds slower than Ricciardo, who drove the lone Red Bull in Q3 after teammate Max Verstappen crashed out at the first stage of the session.

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton suffered a fuel pressure problem at the start of Q3, so only completed a single run at the end of the session.

monaco2Hamilton did several preparation laps before going for a time at the end. He was fastest of all in the first sector, but dropped nearly a tenth to Ricciardo in sector two and just over four tenths in the final part of the lap, so wound up third fastest.

Ricciardo is set to take a different strategy into the race than all those around him, having used super-soft tires to set his best time in Q2 – committing him to starting on them while his main rivals will be on ultra-softs.

Sebastian Vettel was fourth quickest, while Force India's Nico Hulkenberg denied Vettel's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen fifth spot by 0.006s. Raikkonen rounded out the top six, but will drop to 11th on the grid thanks to a penalty for a gearbox change ahead of the session.

The Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz was only 0.017s slower than Raikkonen in seventh, while the second Force India of Sergio Perez, Sainz's Toro Rosso teammate Daniil Kvyat and Fernando Alonso's McLaren-Honda rounded out the top 10.

Valtteri Bottas missed out on a place in Q3 by 0.166s as Williams elected to send its drivers out for a single run each in Q2. Teammate Felipe Massa was only 0.112s slower but that was enough to leave him 14th, behind an impressive effort from Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez and the second McLaren-Honda of Jenson Button.

Gutierrez's Haas teammate Romain Grosjean was a strong eighth fastest in Q1, but failed to find any time in Q2, ending up over a tenth slower than his earlier best and down in 15th.

Kevin Magnussen's Renault completed the top 16, nearly half a second further back, but he is under investigation for jumping a red light at the end of the pitlane in Q1, so may well face sanction.

Marcus Ericsson missed out on a place in Q2 by just 0.046s after losing a late battle with Magnussen's Renault in Q1. The second Renault of Jolyon Palmer, which suffered rear wing damage from an off in final practice, was nearly three tenths further back in 18th.

Rio Haryanto got the better of Manor teammate Pascal Wehrlein by 0.147s to qualify 19th. Wehrlein failed to improve (by 0.03s) on his second Q1 run so wound up 20th.

Verstappen will start from the penultimate row of the grid after breaking his right-front suspension by clipping the inside barrier at the Swimming Pool chicane, then crashing heavily into the barriers.

He at least set a time before doing so. Felipe Nasr's Sauber failed to even complete a flying lap after its Ferrari engine blew up on his out-lap.

STARTING GRID

PosDriverCarTimeGap
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m13.622ss 1m13.622s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m13.791ss 0.169s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m13.942ss 0.320s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m14.552ss 0.930s
5 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m14.726ss 1.104s
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m14.749ss 1.127s
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m14.902ss 1.280s
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m15.273ss 1.651s
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m15.363ss 1.741s
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m15.273ss -
11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m14.732ss -
12 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m15.293ss -
13 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m15.352ss -
14 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m15.385ss -
15 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m15.571ss -
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m16.058ss -
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m16.299ss -
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m16.586ss -
19 Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes 1m17.295ss -
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m17.452ss -
21 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m22.467ss -
22 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari - -

 

Originally on Autosport.com

Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull are set to be the first teams to run Pirelli's 2017-spec Formula 1 tires when testing begins in August.

Pirelli offered a first glimpse of the 2017 tires when it unveiled a prototype of the rubber on a showcar in the Monaco paddock on Saturday (above). The tires are 25 percent wider than the current designs overall, with a 60mm increase to 305mm at the front and a 80mm jump to 405mm at the rear. Pirelli has also adjusted the shape to increase the contact patch and provide more mechanical grip.

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The Italian manufacturer has been using pre-2015 cars to do conceptual work on current-sized tires. It will run its 2017 prototypes for the first time in August once the teams have supplied a '15 car for modification, so it can simulate next year's downforce levels. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull are in a position to do so but it is not yet clear whether something can be fixed in time for the other two teams that previously offered to assist Pirelli – Williams and Force India – to take part initially.

"The time is the big challenge because we have little time to develop not only the new construction but all the compounds," said Pirelli racing manager Mario Isola. "We will start soon to test on track with teams that are able to provide 2015 modified car – Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. We have already started to make our calculation on models and indoor testing on prototypes."

Isola said Pirelli is working toward five compounds for next season but that could change as development progresses.

"The plan at the moment is to stay with five compounds but we will see what happens with development," he said. "If the regulation stays as it is with three compounds for each race we have to consider if five is the right number or if we need to increase or not."

Teams received the first model of the 2017 size nearly two months ago, but it was just a simple prototype so they could start making calculations.

The plan is to begin 2017 tire testing in August with further tests planned for between the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix. Pirelli is hopeful it can test in Abu Dhabi at the end of the year because it will provide favorable conditions. It hopes to have the final spec of tire completed by November.

Originally on Autosport.com

The FIA is set to introduce the halo as its preferred cockpit protection device in Formula 1.

The debate between halo versus Red Bull's aeroscreen continued during a meeting of the technical regulations working group, which includes the technical directors of the F1 teams and the FIA's Charlie Whiting, in Monaco on Friday.

It has been determined that while the aeroscreen is a robust device, and preferred by fans over the halo, the time constraints now pressing on the teams make the halo the way to go. With a deadline of July 1 imposed for confirmation of which device would be given the go ahead, the lack of testing of the aeroscreen over the halo was one of the deciding factors.

It is understood the aeroscreen is also heading in a direction the FIA is not keen to pursue at this stage, although it is far from off the table for 2018 onward.

For now, a modified version of the halo – first seen on the Ferrari during pre-season testing at Barcelona (above) – is scheduled for further safety testing on June 24. The new version is understood to be more streamlined compared to its chunky predecessor, which drew numerous negative comments on its debut. Providing the upgraded halo passes these tests then it will be formally approved at the next technical regulations meeting on July 6.

This will provide the teams with enough time to implement it into bodywork designs for 2017 that are already significantly altered given the regulations changes due to come into force for next season.

 

Originally on Autosport.com

tech1With its current Dallara DW12 spec chassis about to take part in its fifth Indy 500, IndyCar president of competition Jay Frye spoke on the series' plans to commission a replacement as it looks toward the future.

In an interesting and unexpected connection, Frye says the fate of IndyCar's aero kits, which are expected to be abandoned for 2017, will dictate the timeline for introducing a new Indy car chassis.

2016Indy500 MarshallPruett 522 800"We have to get a better understanding of where we're going forward with the aero kits first," Frye (right) told RACER. "Think of it this way, too: One of the biggest things the series needs is another OEM partner. If you are an OEM wanting to come in now, you have to go design your own aero kit, you have to go do your own engine. It is a daunting task. It is usually expensive and it will take a lot of time. But is that the best way for us to go?

"Looking forward, we have to define that model of what an OEM needs to do before we can put dates and times on a calendar to say, 'We'll do a new chassis here,' or anything else that's different to today's product."

With IndyCar considering a move from individual, manufacturer-designed aero kits to a new, common set of bodywork for all OEMs to use, Frye and his technical team would then be able to engage Chevy, Honda, and any new manufacturers on where the series might take its chassis and engine concepts in the future.

"If, aero kit wise, it was a different solution so that another OEM could come in quicker because of more standardized rules that we've come up with, it would be easier to sell, I believe," Frye added. "Here it is, here's the way to go do it, here's the approach, and it wouldn't be a road block to coming into the series if [a manufacturer] doesn't want to do a big aero kit project."

2016Indy500 MarshallPruett 517 054Although Frye wouldn't elaborate on the topic, it appears the series' engine formula could be under review in the interest of enticing more manufacturers.

"On the engine side, there are some ways we could come up with a solution there," he added. "If you look at our engine programs right now, they're built for this series. That's all they do. That is something we have to look at very hard because, again, there are big goals on where we are going. We've got a couple of OEMs that are curious and interested. So this is part of that plan too is if we can make the point of entry much less complicated and difficult, they will come or it would be easier for them to come in.

Asked if IndyCar would consider opening its 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 formula to allow other small-displacement turbos from other series – Global Rallycross, for example – Frye wasn't completely opposed to the idea.

"As long as you have the right rules and regulations in place where everybody can compete fairly at the same level, even though [the engines] are different," he said. "Again, that would be probably more complicated right now, but is it possible? Sure."


2016Indy500 MarshallPruett 521 144b 2 10428 900 506 80 c

Frye also said Chevy and Honda have been supportive of IndyCar's unspecified approach to bringing in a third or fourth manufacturer.

"They've both been great," Frye continued. "This is part of that too. Our OEM partners are both willing to look at the rules and any changes if it will bring more OEMs into IndyCar. They understand the importance of that. Yes, we have longer-term agreements with the configurations we have now, but both have said they are willing to look at changes if it helps us to become more than two [manufacturers] and makes sense cost wise.

"Or, the engines could stay just the way they are. I don't think the engine formula would have to be too different, but we need to decide what we're going to do sooner rather than later if it's going to be different.

"We want to make sure we are doing the right thing. It's like the aero kit question. We are acquiring all the data and knowledge we can, and if we have to suggest something different, we will. It is the same thing with the engines."

2016Indy500 MarshallPruett 516 1001b 10424 900 506 80 cIt's hard to say whether Dallara's DW12 will be replaced in 2018, 2019, or even later. It's also unclear whether IndyCar will go with a single supplier and stay with its spec design practices. But whenever the next Indy car chassis appears, it could, according to Frye, include a higher state of technology in the cockpit, engine bay, and drivetrain department.

"We'd be open to look at any new technology, any kind of new ideas," he said. "I think that as a series we have to be like that – continue to grow and continue to get better. Who knows over the next five years what is going to happen in the automotive world? There are new things coming out every day.

"I think we are in a position right now where we have the ability to try new things and to adapt quickly if we need to. There's no reason not to. I have an open mind about it."

LAT levitt I500 29891Welcome to RACER.com's live report from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Check back throughout the day for updates.

1:21 pm: Extraordinary! Stoneman gets a run on Jones around the back of the circuit and they run through the last two corners side-by-side. They're still line astern on the run to the checker, and Stoneman wins by just 0.0024s. What a finish.

1:20pm: Piedrahita ran into the back of Stoneman on the run to the line on the restart! Piedrahita falls back, while Jones passes Stoneman into Turn 1 ...

1:17pm: Having now seen a replay of Choi's accident, he's lucky not to have sustained more damage - he lost it all by himself in Turn 1 and bounced off the wall. Meanwhile, Dalton Kellett clipped the wall on the main straight and touched Jones, although they appeared to have gotten away with it. Restart next time around; one-lap shootout.

1:15 pm: Yellow for Heamin Choi, who has stopped on the inside of Turn 2. Just as that happened, Stoneman and Piedrahita had gone through the first two corners side-by-side, but Stoneman remains in the lead. With four laps to go, will there be enough time for a restart?

1:14 pm: Stoneman is back in front, but the guy to watch is Piedrahita, who is on a charge - he just took second from Jones, and nearly got past Stoneman at the same time. Five laps to go.

1:13 pm: Back to green, and Jones gets the jump on Stoneman and takes the lead into Turn 1. Piedrahita thinks he has half a chance of getting past Stoneman as well, but Stoneman closes the door.

1:11pm: Caution to rescue Santi Urrutia's car from the track - he had a huge spin, but fortunately, he went towards the infield rather than up into the wall. Doesn't look like there was any damage.

1:07 pm: Jones is back in front - and as we type that, Stoneman reclaims the lead. There's been a position change immediately behind them too, where Juan Piedrahita has taken third from Blackstock.

1:03 pm: Zachary Claman de Melo and Andre Negrao are both in the pits with assorted problems. No such drama up at the front, where it's still Stoneman leading from Jones and Blackstock.

12:58 pm: Stoneman leads again with Jones right on his tail. Shelby Blackstock is up to P3, and Veach is making a liar of us by staying out on track. That said, he has dropped to 10th. Meanwhile, Kyle Kaiser has been checked and released from the medical center.

12:55 pm: Jones is back past Stoneman again, but the more interesting stuff is happening right behind them, where Zach Veach is battling Enerson for second. The pair made contact, and Enerson has pitted for repairs. We'd be surprised if Veach doesn't follow him in sometime soon.

12:54 pm: Stoneman back into the lead, and Enerson follows him past Jones for second. There are still 30 laps to go.

12:52 pm: Restart on lap 7, and Stoneman gets past Serralles. A couple of corners later he takes the lead from Jones, and then loses it again almost immediately. Now he's running side-by-side with RC Enerson. 

12:48 pm: The Indy Lights Freedom 100 is underway - and under yellows. The first attempted start was waved off, the race went green at the second attempt, and then went yellow again when Kyle Kaiser snagged the Turn 4 wall at the end of the first lap. Ed Jones currently leads from Felix Serralles and Dean Stoneman.

***

12:10 pm: And that's it. The checkered flag waves, and Tony Kanaan's 226.280mph remained unbeaten. Carlos Munoz was second-fastest ahead Scott Dixon, with Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounding out the top five.

12:05 pm: It's a frantically busy final few minutes of practice here - by our count, there are 25 cars on track. One of the few who is not is Buddy Lazier, who has completed a field low of 19 laps today, with a best of 209.981mph.

12:00 pm: We were so busy trying to work out how Pippa found the wall that we completely neglected to tell you that Tony Kanaan is now the session leader at 226.280mph. Ten minutes to go.

11:52 am: Green flag.

11:51 am: Still waiting for the debris from Mann's accident to be mopped up so that we can get this session back underway, but we've gotten word that Mann has been checked, released, and cleared to drive. This is her second crash during the build-up to the race. Last week's was caused by a rear wing fence-end failure, and Mann took a long look at the rear of her car after climbing out of this morning's wreckage.

11:43 am: Pippa Mann has hit the wall at Turn 4. Not sure how it happened, but she was sideways long before she hit the barrier. She's fine, although it looks like there's a fair bit of damage to the rear of the car. We're under yellows.

11:34 am: Marco Andretti is having an extended stay in the pits while the Andretti Autosport team works on a steering arm change. Elsewhere, there's also a bit of excitement in the vicinity of Buddy Lazier, who has been given two consecutive penalties for pit exit violations. James Hinchcliffe has also attraction some attention from race control, and has been issed a drive-through for pitlane speeding. While all of that is going on, Munoz is still in P1, and Scott Dixon has moved up to P2.

11:24 am: Carlos Munoz goes to P1 with a 224.772mph. It's starting to look quite Honda-ey at the top of the timing screens - Power is still in P2, but behind him are Ryan Hunter-Reay, Townsend Bell, Mikhail Aleshin, James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato.

11:20 am: IndyCar has announced that the session will be extended by 10 minutes.

11:19 am: Townsend Bell moves to the top with a 223.971mph, and is beaten almost immediately by Will Power's 224.384mph.

11:17 am: Ganassi is setting the early pace, with Scott Dixon being the first driver to break the 223mph mark this morning with a 223.054mph effort. That beat the previous benchmark of 222.788mph, which was set by teammate Tony Kanaan.

11:12 am: Back to green, and everyone is tripping over each other trying to get out of pitlane.

11:00 am: Green flag for the final hour of practice for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 ... and we're already under yellows for debris. Only eight cars managed to poke their noses out of pitlane before the caution flags came out.

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