Racing Legend Willy T. Ribbs to Share Story at SEMA Show

Racing Legend Willy T. Ribbs to Share Story at SEMA Show

Legendary African American racecar driver Willy T. Ribbs will share his story of overcoming adversity during a special Fireside Chat at the 2023 SEMA Show.

Legendary African American racecar driver Willy T. Ribbs will share his story of triumph and overcoming adversity during a special Fireside Chat with moderator Beth Paretta of Paretta Autosport at the 2023 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

The Fireside Chat will take place Thursday, Nov. 2 in the North Hall (Room N258) beginning at 11 a.m. The event is part of a comprehensive SEMA Show Education program that focuses on leadership and year-round skill development.

Ribbs, “The Man. The Myth. The Legend,” will share his incredible life story as a pioneer in motorsports, shattering barriers and paving the way for generations of racecar drivers.

“The most important lesson I’ve learned throughout my career is to never quit on yourself, because the only person who’s going to beat you is you,” said Ribbs. “That’s a lesson that applies in life as well as on the racetrack, and I’m looking forward to sharing that with SEMA Show attendees.”

Ribbs has defied barriers and made history at every step in his motorsports career. Behind the wheel, he’s competed in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, the IndyCar Series and the IMSA GT Championship. He is the first African American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, win a major professional race in the U.S. and drive a Formula One racecar.

Born in Northern California, Ribbs became interested in racing at nine years old watching his father, William “Bunny” Ribbs Sr., a plumbing contractor and amateur sportscar racer, and serving on his race team. After moving to Europe to compete in 1977, at 22, Ribbs won the Dunlop/Autosport Star of Tomorrow FF1600 in his first year of competition, winning six races in 11 starts. 

His many on-track accomplishments include the 1977 Dunlop Formula Ford championship; 1982 Long Beach Formula Atlantic pole winner; 1987-’88 International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Driver of the Year; and 2021 inductee into the Long Beach Grand Prix Hall of Fame.

Beyond the track, in 2020 Ribbs was featured in the documentary, “UPPITY: The Willy T. Ribbs Story,” currently airing on Amazon Prime Video. In 2022, he was named Formula One Ambassador for Diversity and Inclusion.

“Willy T. Ribbs has changed the landscape of motorsports,” said Pamela Brown-Matthis, director of education for SEMA. “His personal story of resolve, to never quit or allow yourself to be defeated, will certainly resonate with our members as they look to successfully navigate challenges in the industry.”

Ribbs will be joined onstage by moderator Beth Paretta, CEO and team principal at Paretta Autosport, the first woman-owned, woman-driven and woman-forward team in IndyCar history. 

The 2023 SEMA Show Education Program includes 99 learning sessions, including six highly focused SEMA Education tracks, the Dale Carnegie Leadership Essentials program, a Women in Automotive Symposium, an on-site electric vehicle (EV) certification program and many others.

“The breadth of education programs offered at the SEMA Show ensures there’s something for everyone in attendance,” said Andy Tompkins, trade show director of SEMA. “The SEMA Show Main Stage speakers provide a compelling mix of personal development and business intelligence that make it one of the many ‘can’t-miss’ features of the show.”

The Fireside Chat is free for all 2023 SEMA Show attendees. To learn more and register to attend, visit semashow.com.

You May Also Like

Early-Bird Registration Opens for CIECA CONNEX Conference

CONNEX 2024: “The Intersection of Data & Mobility” will be held Sept. 24-25, 2024 at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel in Detroit, Mich.

The Collision Industry Electronic Commerce Association (CIECA) announced that its 15th annual conference, CONNEX 2024: “The Intersection of Data & Mobility,” will be held Sept. 24-25, 2024 at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel in Detroit, Mich.

During the two-day event, insightful speakers will discuss where technology and businesses are headed and what the collision industry can do to prepare. A highlight of the event will be an exclusive tour of the American Center for Mobility. The conference will also include networking opportunities, a vehicle gifting as part of the National Auto Body Council Recycled Rides program and a celebration of CIECA’s 30th anniversary of creating data integration standards.

Speakers Announced for 2024 HD Repair Forum

Speakers will hail from companies like Peterbilt, MHC Kenworth, Rivian and the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.

Registration Now Open for 2024 UK Garage and Bodyshop Event

The UK Garage and Bodyshop Event is set to return for its second edition June 5-6 at the National Exhibit Center in Birmingham, England.

Collision Advice Workshop Headlines NORTHEAST 2024 Education

Mike Anderson and his team will bring their one-of-a-kind brand of seminars to the NORTHEAST Show March 15-17 in Secaucus, N.J.

HD Repair Forum Announces Dates and Location for Technical Training

The HD Repair Forum will be hosting technical training April 26-27, 2024 at the Hyatt Regency in Frisco, Texas.

Other Posts
Matt Daigle Joins SEMA’s Public and Government Affairs Team

Daigle is a seasoned communicator with more than 20 years of experience and leadership in advocacy and member communications.

Automotive Specialty Equipment Sales Grow to $52.3 Billion

Automotive specialty equipment sales increased about 1% over 2022, according to the newly released 2024 SEMA Market Report.

SEMA Announces Board of Directors Selection Results

SEMA members vote Bill Bader, Doug Lane, Kelle Oeste, Kim Pendergast and Melissa Scoles to lead the association.

California Governor Passes on Zero-Emission Aftermarket Conversion Project

Senate Bill 301 aimed at incentivizing the conversion of gas and diesel-powered cars into zero-emission vehicles was vetoed by California Governor Gavin Newsom.