SOUTHLAKe, Texas – Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. and Willy T. Ribbs, the first black driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, are forming a business partnership known as Unser-Ribbs Vintage Racing.
The two drivers have become increasingly involved in vintage racing since they both stood on the podium of the first Sportscar Vintage Racing Ass’n Brickyard Invitational Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am in 2014 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The two drivers also announced they will enter the fifth running of the Pro-Am during the June 13–June 17 Brickyard Invitational.
“All of us at SVRA are proud to have Al and Willy as part of our family,” said Tony Parella, SVRA president and CEO. “When we first reached out to them about racing with us in 2014, I never dreamed it was the beginning of a warm relationship that has very much flourished. As they became familiar with our paddock they saw the business opportunities our growing number of sponsors have recognized.”
“As Al and I looked at the SVRA brand, we liked what we saw in its quality and appeal,” said Ribbs. “We like and respect the leader and his organization and we believe we have something to offer their members.”
“I have total respect for the SVRA and its members,” added Unser. “I can tell you that those so-called amateurs in the Pro-Am have the pace to lay down laps as fast or faster then their professional co-driver.”
Initial services of Unser-Ribbs Vintage Racing include coaching, mentoring, and even dining and recreational activities with Unser and Ribbs. They are supported with car set-up and engineering services by their friend and business partner Steve Erickson, owner of Automotive Business Solutions. Erickson is a long-time Indy car engineer.
“Frankly, it is an under-told story that there is a healthy cottage industry of support services by prep shops across America,” Parella added. “These garages provide a range of services for vintage racers, including race car preparation and maintenance, transport, and even arranging weekend rentals.”