by Rick Smith
Bobby Willy T. Ribbs was born in 1959 and has 2 children. He began his racing career at 18, after graduating from high school. He drove Formula Ford Cars in Europe and won the Dunlop Championship his first year. Returning to the states a year later, he raced Formula Atlantic cars. When he was 23, he won the pole position at the Long Beach Formula Atlantic race. He led the race before engine failure dashed his chances of winning.
The next year, Willy won five SCCA Trans-Am races and received the Pro Rookie of the Year Award. Next year, Edsel Ford called to ask him to drive for Jack Roush in a factory effort. In those two years Willy won 17 Trans-Am races, before leaving the series at the end of the 1985 season.
The following year, he competed in two NASCAR Winston Cup races for DiGard Racing. Unfortunately, the team did not complete the season due to financial problems. Later that year he won two races at Columbus and Sears Point in the IMSA series.
He continued in the IMSA series for the next two years for family friend Dan Gurney's factory Toyota team. He was named Driver of the Year for BOTH seasons and won four races. The next year, in 1989, he drove Dan Gurney's IMSA GTP Eagle HF prototype.
In 1990, Willy ran his first CART Indy race at Long Beach. He ran in ten races and got two top-tens. The next year, he qualified for the Indianapolis 500 in 29th position on the final day of time trials. He continued racing the CART series through 1994 and had top-ten finishes at the Denver and Michigan Grand Prix races.
Ribbs got back into racing in 1998 when he ran the NASCAR Street Race in Los Angeles, where he competed against Mark Martin for the lead. The next year, he ran the Las Vegas 500 IRL race, before signing with Victoria Motorsports SCCA Trans-Am team. He has finished second at Long Beach, third at Detroit and fourth at Las Vegas clinching the Johnson Controls Triple Crown.
Now he will be entering an entirely new form of racing during the 2001 racing season -- the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He will be competing for Bobby Hamilton Racing's Dodge factory-backed team. His teammate will be Joe Ruttman, who has been a close friend for several years.
Dated: January 25, 2001