Local students meet African-American racing legend Willy T. Ribbs

Local students meet African-American racing legend Willy T. Ribbs

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Racing champion Willy T. Ribbs is a rarity in the world of auto racing as very few African-Americans have been embraced as race car drivers. Ribbs is the first black driver to win a Trans-Am race, test a Formula One car, and race in the Indy 500.

His life is the topic of a new documentary called “Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story."

Monday, students from New Albany High School packed a theater at the Muhammad Ali Center on Monday to get a chance to watch Uppity.

The movie shows how Ribbs shattered the color barrier in his career. Ribbs overcame death threats, unwarranted suspensions, and engine sabotage to go after his dream.

Ribbs was mentored by Muhammad Ali, and that’s why it was so important for him to be in Ali’s hometown to mentor students.

"Of course it's Black History Month and it's always nice to have a black figure showing us what to do and showing us how to be successful," New Albany High School Senior Julien Hunter said. "Even though he had major setbacks he persevered and it's always good to have a person of your color to show you what to do and show you how to be successful in life."

The students were able to ask Ribbs questions about his life and career.

"It's more than just about a race car driver, its actually about overcoming odds and adversity and diversity as well as racism and it's a phenomenal story," Chris Miles from Starting Grid Inc. said.

“Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story” is streaming on Netflix.

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