Skinner, Papis, Brabham & Ribbs Eye Indy Pro-Am

Mike Skinner (pictured) will be joined by Max Papis, Willy T. Ribbs and Geoff Brabham during the VROC Indy Pro-Am Brickyard Invitational in August.
Mike Skinner (pictured) will be joined by Max Papis, Willy T. Ribbs and Geoff Brabham during the VROC Indy Pro-Am Brickyard Invitational in August.

SOUTHLAKE, Texas – Sportscar Vintage Racing Ass’n officials have announced that Mike Skinner, Max Papis, Geoff Brabham and Willy T. Ribbs will take part in the Brickyard Invitational Aug. 3-4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Skinner and Papis won the Vintage Race of Champions Charity Pro-Am A Production and B Production class races, respectively, at the first race of the season at Road Atlanta in March. Brabham and Ribbs, who scored podium finishes at Road Atlanta, are also in the running for Chopard luxury watches that will be awarded to series champions at Virginia Int’l Raceway in September.

“The VROC presented by Chopard Watch is compelling competition, and is exceeding our expectations,” said SVRA CEO Tony Parella. “It’s exciting to see legendary drivers serious about vying for our championship.”

Skinner’s first taste of SVRA racing came at last September’s VIR Charity Pro-Am. In 1995 he delivered the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship for legendary team owner Richard Childress. Childress had noticed Skinner’s domination of the Caraway Speedway track championship as well as numerous other late model victories across the Carolinas the previous year and selected him to drive for his team in the inaugural season for NASCAR Trucks. Skinner rewarded Childress’ trust by scoring 16 victories for the black No. 3 Goodwrench Truck across two seasons.

Skinner has a total of 28 race wins and 50 poles in NASCAR Truck competition. In 1997 Childress promoted him to join the great Dale Earnhardt Sr. as his teammate in the NASCAR Cup series. He again delivered by winning the 1997 Rookie-of-the-Year title as well as six pole positions and a pair of exhibition race wins in Japan.

Papis has driven in virtually every major series this side of drag racing. This includes Formula One, NASCAR, Indy car racing, Le Mans as well as V8 Supercars and IROC. The versatile driver competed in two Indianapolis 500s for 1998 race winner Eddie Cheever and won three Indy car races for Bobby Rahal’s team. In NASCAR he raced Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series, and the Camping World Truck Series. He competed in seven 24 Hours of Le Mans contests, scoring a class podium in five of those events along with top-10 overall finishes on four occasions. Papis also won two Rolex 24 races – including an overall win in 2002.

Ribbs is the first black driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. He did so twice, in 1991 and again in 1993. He also tested for a Formula One seat, in 1986 with Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team. He was Trans-Am’s most prolific winner from 1983 through 1985 when he scored 18 of his 19 victories. He was series rookie-of-the-year in 1983, winning five times and more than any other driver. After Trans-Am, he moved to Dan Gurney’s IMSA Toyota team for two years and picked off 10 race wins. Ribbs gained recognition as a rising talent when he won the Formula Ford championship in England in 1977.

Brabham was a master of sports car racing and the star driver of the dominant Nissan team that won four successive IMSA GTP championships from 1988 through 1991. During this time, he scored an amazing 27 overall victories.  He also won the 1993 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 1989 and 1991 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1981 Can-Am series championship. Brabham’s outstanding career earned him six invitations to compete in the elite IROC series, where he won two races.

He began racing Formula Fords in Australia in 1973 and won the 1975 Australian Formula 2 championship and the 1979 Formula Super Vee championship before reaching the top levels of the sport. Brabham is a 10-time starter in the Indianapolis 500, with a best finish of fourth in 1983. He was active in the Indy car series during the 1980’s, recording eight podium finishes and 31 top tens.

The VROC Charity Pro-Am presented by Chopard Watch is a Saturday feature event at the Brickyard Invitational. The cars are 1963 to 1972 vintage Corvettes, Camaros, and Mustangs of SVRA Group 6 A and B Production.  The professionals will be paired with amateur drivers. Amateurs will start the race and be required to drive a maximum of seven laps.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Brickyard Invitational VROC Charity Pro-Am will benefit the Morgan Adams Foundation. The foundation supports laboratory and clinical research in the area of pediatric cancer, with an emphasis on tumors on the brain, spine, and central nervous system. Morgan Adams was a five-year-old girl who lost her battle with brain cancer in 1997. The foundation has a history of working with vintage racers to support their cause.