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.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”