SUMMIT POINT, W.VA., JULY 12 -- Despite his car twice being hit, Willy T. Ribbs won the 300-kilometer Mid-Atlantic Toyota Grand Prix today by more than 10 seconds before about 20,000 at Summit Point Raceway.
In the winner's circle, Ribbs celebrated with a dance on the roof of his turbocharged Toyota Celica.
It was the third International Motor Sports Association Camel GTO victory this season for Ribbs, a pioneer black professional road-racing driver, and it took 2 hours 27 minutes 53.637 seconds. Greg Pickett of Alamo, Calif., was 10.427 seconds back in a Chevy Corvette, with Ribbs' teammate, Chris Cord, in third.
A thunderstorm midway through the race made course conditions treacherous. On the 59th lap of the 93-lap race, Ribbs was hit by Pickett and spun off the course. A few turns later, Pickett and Cord, who had moved into second, both spun off the course and Ribbs returned to the lead.
For about 20 laps, Ribbs and Pickett dueled for the lead on the slippery track. On lap 73 the rain stopped.
Pickett took the lead when Ribbs pulled into the pits on lap 80 to change tires. But Pickett's rain tires began to overheat as the course dried and he had to pull in to change tires on lap 85. Although Pickett's pit crew was fastest in the tire change, Ribbs pulled to an insurmountable lead. Ribbs was hit by a lapped driver five laps from the end and spun 360 degrees, but got back on course without losing position.
"Strategywise, that was probably the toughest race of my career," said Ribbs. "It was a challenge to call the shots right and try to make the right decision at the right time about changing the tires. It was a fantastic race."
Early in the race, Jack Baldwin and Tom Gloy crashed while challenging for the lead. Lapped driver Greg Altman had pulled into Baldwin's path after moving aside to let Ribbs pass. None of the drivers was seriously injured.
Earlier in the day, a three-hour Firestone Firehawk race was held for basically showroom stock cars. Nick Moore and Buddy Norton won in an IROC Camaro, completing 111 laps at an average speed of almost 74 mph.
The day's final race was a 30-minute contest for Barber Saab pro series cars. These are much like Formula One cars but all are driven by production turbocharged Saab engines. All the cars are the same and drivers pay $5,000 a week to race. Tim Colwell, of Davie West, Fla., won the race and $6,000, covering the two-mile circuit at an average speed of more than 89 mph.
In the GTU (under three liters) division, Amos Johnson of Raleigh, N.C., won as his Mazda RX-7 covered 89 laps at 71.555 mph.