Willy T. Ribbs joins Tony Stewart/Ray Evernham SRX series for 2021

Superstar Racing Experience Willy T. Ribbs
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
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Superstar Racing Experience added Willy T. Ribbs to its lineup Wednesday for the series’ debut season next year.

Ribbs is an accomplished veteran of Trans-Am (17-time winner), sports cars, stock cars and IndyCar series. He was the first Black driver to qualify and race in the 1991 Indy 500. He also was the subject of a Netflix documentary called “Uppity” about his career.

The series, which is expecting a lineup of a dozen drivers, also has Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Paul Tracy and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner.

SRX was co-founded by NASCAR Hall of Famers Stewart and Ray Evernham and was unveiled July 13. Several drivers have expressed interest in the new circuit, which is modeled on the International Race of Champions (IROC) series that matched drivers from various auto racing disciplines in equally prepared cars for an annual four-race series for 30 years.

Superstar Racing Experience has yet to reveal a schedule or tracks, but it’s expected that Stewart’s Eldora Speedway will be on the slate.

Here’s the release from Superstar Racing Experience:

Superstar Racing Experience is excited to announce the addition of Willy T Ribbs Jr. to the inaugural SRX driver lineup.

Ribbs has competed across a variety of auto racing disciplines, including IndyCar, Champ Car, IMSA, NASCAR and the Trans-Am Series. Ribbs’ career highlights include 17 wins in the Trans-Am Series. Ribbs’ trailblazing career is highlighted by the fact that he was the first African American to qualify for and race in the Indianapolis 500.

“I am really excited to be back in the car for the SRX series. I look forward to racing under the lights at some of America’s most iconic racing destinations. It will be a spirited competition and it sure will be fun going at it on the track with some legends of auto racing,” said Ribbs.

Ribbs joins Tony Stewart, Tony Kanaan, Paul Tracy, Bobby Labonte and Helio Castroneves as the sixth confirmed driver for the series that will air Saturday nights in primetime on CBS Television Network in the Summer of 2021.

Supercross: Haiden Deegan debuts in 250s at Houston, Justin Cooper graduates to 450 class for Star Yamaha

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Rising star Haiden Deegan will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut in Houston, Texas with Yamaha Star Racing while the 2021 250 West champion Justin Cooper graduates to 450s.

Deegan, the son of motocross and off-road legend Brian Deegan and brother of NASCAR Truck Series driver Hailie Deegan, made two starts in the Pro Motocross outdoors season last year. He finished 31st overall at the Ironman Nationals in Crawfordsville, Indiana and was 13th at Fox Raceway in the season-ender at Fox Raceway in Pala, California, but the overall results did not necessarily reflect how well he ran. In both events, he challenged for top-10s during portions of the week and actually finished 10th in one of the Pala motos.

Last week, Haiden finished fifth in the Supercross 250 Futures in Anaheim 2.

“We’re really excited to get the season on the East Coast started,” said Monster Energy Team Manager Jensen Hendler in a press release. “It’s also exciting to have Haiden move up to join our pro program this season and to have Justin make his debut on the 450. The guys have been working hard and are looking forward to seeing what they can do this weekend in Houston.”

After scoring a 250SX Futures podium, Talon Hawkins gets 250 East ride.

Deegan will join Nate Thrasher and Jordon Smith in the 250 East division this week.

Cooper moves into the 450 class this weekend. According to Supercross rules, after winning the 2021 championship, he had one season to defend his title and then would be required to move up a class. Cooper missed all of last year to injury.

Cooper was healthy when the outdoor season started and he earned five podiums and nine top-fives in 12 rounds. Three of these races ended in runners-up finishes, at Hangtown, in Rancho Cordova, California, Washougal, Washington and Unadilla, New York.

Cooper joins Eli Tomac and Dylan Ferrandis in the 450 class and will race select events.

Justin Cooper learned to temper aggression with speed

Cooper’s Houston attempt will be the first of an undisclosed number of races he will compete in during the 2023 season.

“It’s been about two years since I’ve lined up for a supercross, and now it’s in a new class with the best guys, so I’m excited to just get out there,” Cooper said. “I’m looking to get back under the lights and learn what I can. Overall, I’m just really excited to be in the position to be out there, so I’m going to make the most of it and enjoy it!”

Deegan and Cooper will be part of a seven-rider Supercross lineup for Yamaha Star Racing. Nick Romano will debut in the 250 East division later this year.