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James Andrews

Media entrepreneur James Andrews was born in San Jose, California. Andrews graduated from Palo Alto High School in Palo, Alto, California in 1988. After attending Ventura College, Andrews transferred to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) from 1990 and 1992. After leaving UCLA, Andrews worked for Immortal Records, a defunct independent record label based in Los Angeles. In 1994, Andrews was hired as senior director of marketing for Columbia Records, developing the careers of established musical acts.

He was the executive vice president of marketing for the Ecko Unlimited clothing company before being named executive vice president for Urban Box Office in 1999. A year later, Andrews founded his own marketing company BrandInfluence. After working for global digital media company Isobar Global and global communications firm Ketchum, Andrews went on to co-found Everywhere and found Social People in 2009 and 2010, respectively. With Social People, Andrews’ clients include the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ 53rd Grammy Awards. He also launched Famous People LLP, a celebrity representation division that manages digital and social media assets on behalf of clients. Through Famous People LLP he worked with celebrities such as Jane Fonda and Chaka Khan. Additionally, Andrews served as a regular contributor to CNN and has appeared on the CNBC cable news network. He has been featured in Black Entreprise and Fast Company magazines.

He is married to his wife Sherrelle and has two children. Andrews resides in Atlanta Georgia.

James Andrews was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 18, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.096

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/18/2012

Last Name

Andrews

Maker Category
Schools

University of California, Los Angeles

Ventura College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

San Jose

HM ID

AND12

Favorite Season

Winter

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Rio, Brazil

Favorite Quote

Dream big, trust more.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

5/12/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sushi

Short Description

Media company entrepreneur James Andrews (1970 - ) one of the nation’s leading experts in social media, has launched two digital media companies, working with celebrities clients such as Jane Fonda and Chaka Khan.

Employment

Social People

Everywhere

Ketchum Inc.

Isobar Global

Brand Influence

Urban Box Office Network

Ecko Unlimited

Columbia Records

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Blue, Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Andrews' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Andrews lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Andrews describes his mother's family background, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Andrews describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about growing up with his aunt and the history of blindness in his family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about his mother's aspirations to be a doctor

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Andrews describes his father's involvement with the Black Panthers

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Andrews discusses possible catalysts for his parents' activism

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Andrews talks about meeting his father at age nine

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Andrews describes his parents' personalities and who he takes

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Andrews talks about his younger brother, his step father, and accidentally burning down his house at age six

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes being accused as an arsonist and his life as a 'latchkey' kid

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Andrews describes his earliest memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Andrews describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Andrews compares and contrasts Oakland and Alameda, California

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Andrews describes his experience at Thousand Oaks Elementary in Berkley, California

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Andrews describes his experience at Donald Lumm Elementary and Lincoln Junior High School in Alameda

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes the positive impact his coaches had upon his childhood development

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about growing up and being comfortable in a predominantly white community and family

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about his childhood interest in history and World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his childhood fascination with vinyl records

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Andrews talks about the rich music scene in California in the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes how Alameda, California shaped his taste in music

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Andrews describes moving to Palo Alto to live with his Aunt, who became a second mother, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Andrews describes moving to Palo Alto to live with his Aunt, who became a second mother, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Andrews describes some of his heroes in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about attending Stanford lectures as a high school student

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about playing high school basketball and his favorite basketball and baseball players

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes his struggle with drugs and school in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about the emergence of hip hop

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about attending Utah Valley Community College to play college basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his experience living in Provo, Utah, while attending Utah Valley Community College

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Andrews talks about his passion for religion and his decision to quit doing drugs

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Andrews describes his decision to return to California to attend Ventura College in 1989

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Andrews talks about his friendship with David Warwick and his decision to enter the entertainment industry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about his decision to attend UCLA and the love that he developed for the city

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Andrews describes the atmosphere and his activism during the Los Angeles riots

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about his educational experience as a history major at UCLA

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Andrews talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about how his wife helped him start down his career

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about his first job as Senior Director of Marketing at Immortal Records

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his experience as an intern for Columbia Records

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - James Andrews talks about his learning experiences at Wild West Records and Immortal Records

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes working for Happy Walters at Immortal Records

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Andrews talks about producing his first record, 'B Ball's Best Kept Secret', for Immortal Records

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Andrews talks about MC Hammer and other rappers from Oakland, California that inspired him

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about the emergence of a more confrontational rappers like Tupac Shakur

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about moving to New York City to work as Director of Marketing for Columbia Records

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Andrews talks about his mentor at Columbia Records, LeBaron Taylor

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Andrews talks about marketing emerging acts like Destiny's Child by using the Internet

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about the importance of video for marketing in the music industry

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Andrews talks about his project with DJ Jazzy Jeff and his first encounter with the Philadelphia music scene

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - James Andrews talks about his newsletter, Soul Purpose, and leaving Columbia Records to work with Mark Ecko

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - James Andrews describes his proudest accomplishment at Ecko

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes his decision to sell Soul Purpose and leave Ecko to work at Urban Box Office

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Andrews talks about Silicon Alley in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Andrews talks about Brand Influence, the impact it had upon his family life, and his religious awakening

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about his social media practices at Isobar and Ketchum

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Andrews describes a social media mishap while on a business trip in Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Andrews describes a social media mishap while on a business trip to Memphis, Tennessee, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Andrews describes his working relationship with Jane Fonda

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Andrews talks about his work with the social media startups

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Andrews discusses his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - James Andrews describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Andrews describes the burgeoning entrepreneurial atmosphere in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Andrews talks about his children and his family's lifestyle

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Andrews reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Andrews talks about what he would change about his past

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Andrews talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$7

DATitle
James Andrews describes the atmosphere and his activism during the Los Angeles riots
James Andrews talks about marketing emerging acts like Destiny's Child by using the Internet
Transcript
Now this is the last--$$This is, this is, this is '91 [1991] I think or '90/'91 [1990/1991].$$Now were you in L.A. then when the riots hit [unclear].$$Yeah that's a big part of my story. Yeah I was right there, yeah. So I go to UCLA and I was dating my girlfriend who was my wife at the time--and actually I was living with her at the time. And the, you know the riots happened right there. We all went to UCLA, we were activists, you know we were involved as Black students, you know. And, but it was an interesting moment where you know the--we were there to, to create a statement and to do something and to say something about, you know, injustice and Rodney King and I just saw a bunch of football players like stealing stuff out of the store. I saw people getting over and I was like wait a minute, like I grew up like you know, Panther, you know what I mean? Like we're not doing anything, we're just--cats is running in there, you know taking things and it was a real defining moment for me that I was like wait a minute. Like where is the activism? This is--a lot of talk but you know this is not activism, this is people stealing stuff, you know. And I do remember that. I remember it being a very tense moment, you know. There was National Guard at the Ralph's grocery store. A White girl spilled a soda on my wife by accident and the White girl said when my wife was looking for an apology, don't be such a bitch. And my wife and I chased this girl throughout the campus. And it was a very, very tense moment. There was some interesting moments that, that shaped me. But yeah I was right there in L.A.$$Just for those who are watching this and don't know what happened, Rodney King [unclear].$$Sure, so Rodney King, Rodney King like so many of us was a victim of Los Angeles Police brutality. I mean it was, it was my world. I lived through Oakland Police brutality and then also Los Angeles Police brutality consistently being, you know, pulled out of cars. And Rodney King, you know was beaten, you know, sense, sense--you know like a, like a, like a piece of meat by the Los Angeles Police Department.$$This was on the--$$It was on the news, it was on video, it was pre-social media, you know. It was on video cam, it was the first social media moment, ironically that really, you know went everywhere and shaped and, and turned to riots. You know it was, it was crazy in Los Angeles, all over this country.$$Okay so national [unclear] incident and--$$Yes national incident.$$Were you, you a part of the different forums, I know Jim Brown, Ted Koppel from Nightline was involved in meetings with the Crypts and the Bloods and the different gangs about the--and community leaders in L.A.$$No I wasn't. You know I was a student, I was neither a gangbanger nor was I an activist. I was kind of in the middle. I was, I was just getting to L.A. and I was trying to, you know, get out of college and figure out who I was. I wasn't involved really. My wife, you know we were activists in that I lived in this apartment building. I lived with my wife, with a neighbor whose name was Chris Madison, he was very active. Went to Howard and was always you know, looking for a conspiracy and, and we were definitely, you know we were definitely thinking about what should we do, what's our place. My best friend in college was Sir Bailey, his father is Phillip Bailey and so we actually had like a, sort of a, a salon that we used to meet together and talk about you know, what's happening in, you know, in Los Angeles, what's happening with Black people in Los Angeles. And so you know it definitely, it definitely--there were a lot of conversations that we had but we were not a part of any famous forums. We were our own forum. There was a, a teacher on campus named Mogla [ph.] Malekai Eesy [ph.] and Mogla was, was helping to organize a lot of the African students. But, but you know there's so much history in, in--that I also being a history major, and being, you know a child of the Bay area and the Panthers, there was so much history in UCLA's campus and the Black Panther party and I was looking for something, I was looking for the jump-off. I was looking for the--and what I saw was just silliness, right and I wish I would have found those, those activisms. But we created our own activism, we really--when I look back on it, we really created our own forums, you know our own moments where we talked about Blackness in Los Angeles in that moment.$Now tell us about how you marketed the Destiny Child.$$Yeah, in all of our acts, you know we had to you know, get these acts on the road. We had to get exposure. We had to, you know, no one cared about these Black acts initially. You know no one really, you know, you know no one really you know was putting a lot of emphasis on the Fugees, you know. So what was the change, I mean at this time because it's also the beginning of the Internet. This is the beginning of forums, right. This is the beginning of AOL coming into emergence. And one thing I didn't share about my background in Palo Alto is I grew up writing code. Like I programmed in Basic. The only thing is about living in Palo Alto is we learned how to write to code, you know, in eighth grade. I was normal. I had friends who were thugs who were writing code. You know whose, whose parents worked at Hewlard Packard. So I was always technology, technology is my bones. I mean technology--Palo Alto shaped me. So when I got to Columbia Records you know as an executive, I realized that you know, this thing called the Internet was going to be extremely important. And that we were not paying enough attention in the Black Music Division to our artists' Web presence. And yet the White acts were writing them into their contracts. They were actually a big part of their deal. And our Black acts actually didn't even know about it. I mean they weren't really thinking about it. So I would sit down with, you know a then 15 year old Beyonce, which sounds crazy today, you know and her father Mathew Knowles and the group and I would tell them about how important the Web is and how important the Internet is. And I was the first to really educate our artists about you know, the Web and, and what it was about to become. So we did lots of things. You know we did college tours, we did a college tour that started here in Atlanta and went all the way up to Howard where we actually talked to kids during the day in like panel style format, then we had concerts at night. And these were relatively unknown acts that we actually broke with the help of local radio stations, WPGC in D.C. and you know, a local station here and we broke a lot of acts just by putting them on the road, you know and getting out there in the streets. You know Maxwell was a live act, you know that had to see him live. There's no dat [ph.] tape. You've got to see Maxwell live. You know we, and I worked directly with Maxwell to help, you know, shape his vision. To help get his vision out to the world.$$It seems as though these acts are typified, at least the ones you've named here, are typified by actual music, you know [unclear].$$Yeah, absolutely.$$Not just rapping and beats.$$That's right, absolutely. Yeah Fugees and Lauryn Hill, that was a very special moment. You got to, you know the beauty of those groups are they really needed a live show. They thrived off a live show. And so we as a group really pushed getting out there and getting on the road and we didn't just rely on radio. So much of the business at that time was like if you didn't have a radio, you didn't have a record. We were like forget it, we're going to make radio play these records. And we really [unclear]. There weren't a lot of record labels doing this type of approach at this time period. We were very much, we were doing real marketing, it wasn't just relying on radio.

Willy T. Ribbs

William Theodore Ribbs, Jr. was born on January 3, 1956, in San Jose, California, to Geraldine and William T. Ribbs, Sr. Rather than managing the successful family plumbing business founded by his grandfather in 1927, Willy T. Ribbs races cars professionally. He is the first African American to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and one of the only African American NASCAR racers.

Ribbs' love of cars and racing began at the age of four. At age nine, Ribbs worked as a ranch hand on his grandfather's ranch. His first foray into motorsports was driving Formula Ford cars in Europe soon after his high school graduation in 1975. He won the Dunlop Championship in his first year of competition, then returned to the United States and raced Formula Atlantic cars. Ribbs won the pole in the Long Beach Formula Atlantic race in 1982, outpacing veteran drivers before his engine failed. In 1983, he won five races in the SCCA Trans-Am and was honored as Pro Rookie of the Year. After competing in two NASCAR Winston Cup races in 1986, financial difficulties including the lack of corporate sponsorship kept his team from finishing the season.

In 1989, Bill and Camille Cosby stepped in and funded the Raynor-Cosby Motorsports team with Ribbs as the star driver. Ribbs won two top-ten events in his 1990 Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) Indianapolis debut. In 1991, he became the first African American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, and he qualified again in 1993. However, by 1994 it was clear that corporate sponsors were not yet willing to back an African American motorsports athlete, despite Cosby's offer of free television commercials in return for sponsorship. Ribbs was released from his Indianapolis 500 contract and spent the year competing in the CART series, finishing in the top ten at Michigan and Denver Grand Prix races.

In 1999, Ribbs raced in the Las Vegas Indy Racing League (IRL). In 2000, he signed with Victoria Motorsports SCCA Trans-Am team and finished second at Long Beach, third at Detroit and fourth at Las Vegas. He was awarded the Johnson Triple Crown. In 2001, Ribbs joined the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with the support of Dodge, which initiated a motorsports diversity program to provide opportunities for minorities to race. This made Ribbs the first African American in the modern era to compete full-time in a major NASCAR division. Ribbs successfully raised his two children, Sasha and William Theodore Ribbs, III as a single parent.

Accession Number

A2002.045

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/1/2002

Last Name

Ribbs

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

T.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Hyde Park Academy High School

James McEntee Science and Technology Academy

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Willy

Birth City, State, Country

San Jose

HM ID

RIB01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Australia

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

1/3/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Houston

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue

Short Description

Race car driver Willy T. Ribbs (1956 - ) was the first African American race car driver to participate in NASCAR and was the first African American to compete in the Indianapolis 500. In 1989, Bill and Camille Cosby funded the Raynor-Cosby Motorsports team with Ribbs as the star driver.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating for Willy Ribbs interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs recalls his mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs remembers his paternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs relates how he and his father became interested in auto racing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs shares childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs describes his first experience with driving cars

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Willy Ribbs explains why he loved driving fast

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Willy Ribbs recounts getting in trouble, and racing at the ranch

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Willy Ribbs discusses driving fast and taking corners

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willy Ribbs recalls learning to take corners

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs discusses race car drivers he admires

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs details the history of the Indy 500

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs recounts how Bill Cosby helped him become the first black race car driver in the Indy 500

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs explains why Bill Cosby helped him

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs remembers his experience in the Indy 500

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs illustrates Bill Cosby's influence at the Indy 500

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs recalls qualifying for the Indy 500

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willy Ribbs describes his qualifying run for the Indy 500

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs describes Bill Cosby's reaction to his trial run at the Indianapolis 500

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs describes the emotions of being in the Indy 500

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs discusses racism in auto racing

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs describes his paternal grandfather's attitude and education

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs discusses Shaquille O'Neal

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs describes his desire to race, along with his paternal grandfather's and his father's attitudes towards racing

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs discusses getting speeding tickets as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Willy Ribbs describes his experiences in England

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willy Ribbs discusses the risk and racism in auto racing

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs lists the different levels of cars and races

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs recalls how he won corporate sponsorship

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs explains corporate sponsorship

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs relates how Paul Newman helped him gain pro sponsorship

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs shares his early successes in auto racing

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs explores the nature of racism in sports and auto racing

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs describes his relationship with Dan Gurney

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Willy Ribbs reflects on being the first black Indy 500 driver

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Willy Ribbs ponders his future

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willy Ribbs condemns racism in auto racing

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willy Ribbs talks about fatherhood

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willy Ribbs ponders his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willy Ribbs explains what makes a great race car driver

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willy Ribbs reflects on what he thinks and feels before and during a race

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willy Ribbs describes auto racing from the inside

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willy Ribbs expresses why he loves auto racing

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Willy Ribbs disusses his values, and young athletes today

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Willy Ribbs remembers Jim Brown and other role models

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Willy Ribbs discusses movie rights and his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Willy Ribbs reflects on his paternal grandfather's influence

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Willy Ribbs discusses future plans

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Photo - Willy Ribbs wins Driver of the Race award at Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' paternal grandparents, Henry and Nora Ribbs, Santa Clara, California

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Photo - Willy Ribbs and Robert Unser, ca. 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Photo - Willy Ribbs at a banquet with his mother, Geraldine Ribbs, and father, William Ribbs, 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Willie Brown, Sacramento, California, 1983

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Photo - Theo Ribbs, son of Willy Ribbs, 1993

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs and his brother, Phillip Ribbs, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Photo - Tony George, Pat Boone, and Willy T. Ribbs at the Indianapolis International Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Photo - Chris Cord, Dan Gurney, Willy Ribbs, and Pam Meadows, ca. 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Photo - Willy Ribbs at the London Hilton with Muhammad Ali and Hanna Ali, London, England, 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Photo - Willy Ribbs winning Driver of the Year Award, 1977

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Photo - Willy Ribbs' grandfather, Henry Ribbs, at his ranch in Santa Clara, California, ca. 1984

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Photo - Willy Ribbs in the Detroit Grand Prix, Detroit, Michigan, 1993

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Nancy Wilson, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Paul Newman, Watkins Glen, New York, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Photo - Gary Reed, Dan Gurney, Willy Ribbs, Chris Cord, Les Unger, and Rick Wilson

Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Nelson Piquet, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1992

Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Bob Riley, 1984

Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his mother, Geraldine Ribbs, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 20 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with his grandfather, Henry Ribbs, Sears Point, California, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 21 - Photo - Willy Ribbs with Bill Cosby, ca. 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 22 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs at the Monterey Grand Prix, Monterey, California, 1990

Tape: 6 Story: 23 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs and classmates, San Jose, California, 1965

Tape: 6 Story: 24 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs, his teacher, and classmates, San Jose, California, 1963

Tape: 6 Story: 25 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his daughter, Sasha Ribbs, Sears Point, California, 1988

Tape: 6 Story: 26 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' daughter, Sasha Ribbs, his father, William Ribbs Sr., and his son, Theo Ribbs, 1999

Tape: 6 Story: 27 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his cousin, Don Kern, at the Daytona 500, Daytona, Florida, 2001

Tape: 6 Story: 28 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' grandfather, Henry Ribbs, his brother, Phil Ribbs, and others at the Sears Point Grand Prix, Sears Point, California, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 29 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs at a press conference, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 30 - Photo - Ribbs Lane, San Jose, California

Tape: 6 Story: 31 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his sister Alma, brother Steve, cousin Brenda, and sister Vicky, Santa Clara, California, ca. 1963

Tape: 6 Story: 32 - Photo - Reverend Jesse Jackson with his son, Jesse Jackson Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 33 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Leroy Neiman, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 34 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs races for Ford, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 35 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs in the Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 36 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Tom Gloy, Wally Dallenbach, and Paul Miller, Sears Point, California, 1985

Tape: 6 Story: 37 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' grandfather's (Henry Ribbs) ranch, Santa Clara, California

Tape: 6 Story: 38 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Bob Anderson, Rookie of the Year award, 1983

Tape: 6 Story: 39 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Phil Hill and Dan Gurney, Riverside, California, ca. 1962

Tape: 6 Story: 40 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs on the Cosby Racing Team, 1990

Tape: 6 Story: 41 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Dan Gurney's racing team, 1989

Tape: 6 Story: 42 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with Dan and Marilyn Quayle, Eric Walter, and Gerald Bogan

Tape: 6 Story: 43 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' grandfather's ranch, Santa Clara, California

Tape: 6 Story: 44 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, San Franciso, California, 1995

Tape: 6 Story: 45 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' son, Theo, and daughter, Sasha, San Jose, California

Tape: 6 Story: 46 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs with his daugher, Sasha Ribbs, Miami, Florida, 1986

Tape: 6 Story: 47 - Photo - Willy T. Ribbs' son, Theo, his daughter, Sasha, with their mother, Suzanne

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Willy Ribbs relates how he and his father became interested in auto racing
Willy Ribbs describes the emotions of being in the Indy 500
Transcript
Now, how did your father get interested in racing? Do you know that story?$$My dad [William T. Ribbs, Sr.], growing up here in San Jose [California], one of his best friends was a--when he was growing up, was a gentleman named Joe Leonard. And Joe Leonard was, Joe was racing motorcycles at that time. And Joe was one of the best motorcycle racers this country had ever seen. He was eight-time champion. My dad was racing motorcycles too. This is before I was born. And, so Joe and dad were big buddies. So when Joe got out of motorcycling--he was too old to ride one--so he went on to race cars, and he was two-time Indy [Indianapolis 500] car champion. He nearly won Indy in 1968. Nine laps from the end, the car broke down. Joe Leonard was a family friend, and so that sort of, you know, my dad, because of his relationship with Joe at an early age, they were both racing. So dad, that's how he got into racing. And my grandfather's company [Ribbs Plumbing] had the money to support my dad's racing hobby. So that's how, you know, dad got into it. And, and, of course, I grew up in it, and dad, you know, as kids we had everything we wanted. We had eight motorcycles and five go-carts. And we had pretty much everything we wanted. But I didn't want to work in the business. I mean my grandfather [Henry Ribbs] was really bent out of shape about that. He was pissed (laughter). Oh, he didn't like that at all. He, he was--as far as he was concerned, "I founded the business in 1927 when black men, they didn't let you, you know, do anything hardly but shine shoes in 1927." And his theory was, "Look, I worked; I started a company. I built this company up, and I want you to be, to take over, you know, be in line to take over the company." And I, I didn't--that was not the direction I wanted to go in.$So you qualified, but then after the qualification, qualify--?$$After the qualifying is over, you're--it, it's, it's almost anticlimactic because the toughest thing about Indy [the Indianapolis 500] is being in the race. That's the hardest thing, because there's seventy-five guys that are hurting themselves, that are borderline killing themselves. And drivers, many drivers have gotten killed trying just to be in the race. Forget about the race. They got killed in practice or they got killed in qualifying for, you're there a month. And everyday you wake up, you go to sleep, and when you wake up in the morning, you know you've got to run 200 and plus miles per hour, 220, every day for a month. See, it's easy to do that for three days, go out there, you know, not a whole lot of risk, just don't do any--but for a month? Something is bound to happen, whether it's a driver error or mechanical failure, something's bound to happen. And that wall is just waiting. That wall just sits there patiently. And the wall's never lost a battle, never. And it was very intense from that standpoint. You had to--and, and you had to sleep. You couldn't go home after, you know, you--cause it was a routine. You're at the track all day practicing, qualify, prac--I mean practice, practice, practice. Then you'd go out to dinner with sponsors or you'd go out to dinner with media or whomever, right. And then you go back to your condo and go to sleep, and you wake up. And you're on the track from eleven a.m. to six every day. But you know when you go to sleep, you got to go fast the next day. Now, you're thinking to yourself, well, nothing happened today. What's tomorrow gonna bring? Are the dis--the, what it did--when Indy was over, when that month of May in 1991 was over, the race was anticlimactic. I mean when you qualify on Sunday, you're off all week cause it's all media. It's like the Super Bowl, all media and all interviews and then they get ready. You don't drive any more until that next weekend, when the race starts. And when I left Indy when the race was over, I had a mechanical failure so I didn't finish the race, which was sort of a letdown, but that happens to a lot of driver--and the best of them all have mechanical failures. When it was over, it was almost sad. It was, it was almost depressing because you were in such, you were in such an intense environment and so, everything was so huge. And when the race was over after a month, I mean I, I mean almost wanted to cry, like, "Damn, it's over." It's--I'm leaving Indianapolis [Indiana]. I mean, it was like going to war. It's like, you're--I've been asked many times, "What's it like to go to Indianapolis and be there and be in the biggest race on the planet?" It's like going to war. It's the best I could describe it. And either--you know, when you go to war, you can either come back injured or dead or come back alive. And that was the feeling.