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Born William Theodore Ribbs, Jr., born January 3, 1956, in San Jose, CA; also known as Willy T. Ribbs qualified for the 75th Indianapolis 500 on May 19, 1991, becoming the first black person ever to participate in the famed motor race. As if to maximize the drama, Ribbs landed his spot in the competition with only 45 minutes left in the final six-hour qualifying session–just one week before the event. He drove his Buick-powered 1990 Lola ten miles around the two-and-one-half mile oval at an average speed of 217.358 mph, making him the fastest qualifier of the day and earning the Walker Motorsports team a much needed $20,000.

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