Film

“Uppity” documentary examines Willy T. Ribbs’ struggle to race in the US


Adam Carolla’s Chassy Media has documented Ford’s efforts versus Ferrari at Le Mans, Carroll Shelby, and Paul Newman’s racing career, and now the production company has a documentary about the Jackie Robinson of auto racing, Willy T. Ribbs. You can watch the trailer here.

“Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story” details the career of the first African-American racing driver to win a Trans Am race, test a Formula One car, and compete in the Indy 500. The title plays off how he was referred to by other racers and their mechanics when he was trying to make his way in the U.S. in the 1970s. For his part, Ribbs embraced the taunt and it spurred him on.

The documentary was co-directed by Carolla and Nate Adams, who directed “The 24 Hour War” and “Shelby American: The Carroll Shelby Story.” In addition to Ribbs, it includes interviews with Wally Dallenbach Jr., Bernie Ecclestone, Dan Gurney, David Hobbs, Caitlyn Jenner, Paul Newman, Bobby Unser, Al Unser Jr., Robby Unser, and Humpy Wheeler.

Ribbs won the Formula Ford series in England in 1977, then returned to the U.S. in 1978 to pursue his dream of racing in the Indy 500. Humpy Wheeler, president of Charlotte Motor Speedway, attempted to put Ribbs in a NASCAR racer, which was a move that didn’t sit too well with southern segregationists. Ribbs never competed in that race, but he would go on to compete in four NASCAR Cup Series races in 1986. He turned his attention to Trans Am, where he won multiple races and became the series’ rookie of the year in 1983. Eventually, in 1991, he accomplished his goal of running in the Indy 500 and was the first African-American to break the color barrier of the Brickyard. 

The documentary dives into Ribbs struggle to gain acceptance and win races in America. He was subjected to death threats, unwarranted suspensions, and even engine sabotage. 

Those interested can download “Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story” here.



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Film

New Amazon film documents BMW’s Formula E tech development


A new film titled “Racing into the future: Formula E as a TechLab for the BMW Group” documents the German manufacturer’s efforts to develop electric powertrains with both motorsports and road-going applications in mind. The documentary is now available on Amazon.

The film highlights both the development of a racing powertrain and the applicability of that technology to the cars BMW sells in its showrooms. “Racing into the future” shows how motorsport can serve as a test bed for the technology that will eventually power everyday transportation. 

Formula E mandates a spec chassis and battery unit, so BMW is left only with control over the cooling system, rear frame, rear suspension, dampers, software, on-board electronics and wiring, and the bits that power the rear wheels. The development of that power unit is the subject of this film. 

BMW iFE.20 Formula E race car

BMW’s latest Formula E race car is 203.1 inches long, 69.7 inches wide, and just 41.3 inches tall. It has to weigh at least 1,984 pounds, and it can make a maximum of 335 horsepower. That might not seem like all that much, but it’s enough to launch the car from 0-60 mph in just 2.8 seconds.

“The Formula E drive benefited from the experience of the production engineers during development,” Group Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said of the process documented in the film. 

“In return, the BMW i engineers are able to make use of all the technical insights that we gain through extreme use in Formula E. In spite of all the joy over sporting successes on the racetrack, this is the most important aspect of the Formula E project for us.”

When BMW unveiled this year’s Formula E car, Marquardt referred to the series as “a platform to present innovations in electric mobility,” among other technological developments. 

“Racing into the future: Formula E as a TechLab for the BMW Group” is available for free to Prime members; non-members can rent or watch it. 



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