Willy T. Ribbs Used Hatred Against Him as Fuel to Succeed

We sat down with Ribbs ahead of the premiere of Uppity, the documentary about his life.

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Uppity

Death threats poured in as Willy T. Ribbs prepared to make his NASCAR debut in Alabama nearly 40 years ago.

“If this n***** races in this race, he might not leave alive,” he recounts in Adam Carolla’s newest racing documentary featuring the Californian’s star-crossed career.

“You want a reason not to like me? I’m going to give you one,” he continues. “They called me uppity, and I loved it.”

Two years after it went into production, Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story broke cover in Indianapolis on May 26, the night before the Indy 500. With the 1991 Indy race serving as the backdrop for Ribbs’ greatest feat and the crescendo to the film, the location of the launch was fitting.

And with producer/director Nate Adams and Ribbs onsite a day before the premiere, we sat down to discuss the movie and how, more importantly, a driver whose story weaved through stock cars, Indy cars, IMSA, Trans Am, Formula Ford, Formula Atlantic, and even a Formula 1 test, was distilled into a final product under two hours in length.

Throw in the friendships with the beloved Muhammad Ali, disgraced Bill Cosby, and a revelation during our podcast involving bar fighting for money to support himself while racing in England, and it’s damn near impossible to find a boring patch in the man’s life.

With Uppity likely headed to a distribution deal that will see it in movie theaters, and pre-orders being taken on the site owned by Carolla and Adams, Ribbs’ unbelievable tale will be readily available in the coming weeks and months.

The only downside to the film was Adams’ choice to include me as a talking head. For that, I apologize.

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