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WILLY T. RIBBS RACING ENTERS AFRICAN-AMERICAN DRIVER
CHASE AUSTIN IN 2011 FREEDOM 100 INDY LIGHTS RACE AT IMS


Starting Grid, Inc. Facilitates Formation of Willy T. Ribbs Racing To Diversify The Motorsports Industry



Twenty years after becoming the first African-American driver in the Indianapolis 500 Willy T. Ribbs has formed Willy T. Ribbs Racing to campaign 21-year-old African-American driver Chase Austin in the 2011 Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Austin will handle the No. 75 "Willy T. Ribbs Racing/Starting Grid Inc./Brooks Associates Racing entry at the ninth edition of the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Firestone Indy Lights event will be held Friday, May 27 as part of the Centennial Indianapolis 500 festivities. With sponsorship support from American Honda Motor Company, the car will carry the No. 75 to commemorate the car Ribbs drove for comedian Bill Cosby in 1993 and 1994.

"As we celebrate the Centennial of the Indianapolis 500, as well as the 20th anniversary of Willy breaking the color barrier at the Speedway, I felt it was imperative that Starting Grid build a program that would honor the past, while establishing the foundation for a strong future in motorsports," said Miles.

Austin will take the wheel of the No.75 Willy T. Ribbs Racing/ Starting Grid Inc./Brooks Associates Racing entry in the ninth edition of the Freedom 100. The Firestone Indy Lights event will be held on Friday, May 27, as part of the Centennial Indianapolis 500 festivities. With sponsorship support from American Honda Motor Company, Inc., the car carries No. 75 in homage to Ribbs' car number when driving for comedian Bill Cosby in 1993 and 1994.

Austin underwent a successful rookie test on May 9th-10th at Chicagoland Speedway in preparation for the team's first Firestone Indy Lights competition, and feels confident about taking the green flag for 40 laps of high-level competitive racing on the oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"The test in Chicago went incredibly well," said Austin. "It probably went better than expected, being that these cars are so much different from stock cars. However, I adapted very quickly and was able to accomplish the team's goals for the test. As for competing at Indianapolis and for Willy T. Ribbs Racing, it is a tremendous honor. I have to thank Chris, Willy and American Honda for believing in me and providing this incredible opportunity. This experience has been amazing so far, and I hope it will not end any time soon."

Ribbs' nearly 25 years of distinguished professional auto racing included milestones as the first African-American to compete in open-wheel racing with 47 IndyCar starts, and also included three NASCAR Cup races and 23 truck races, in addition to a test for a Formula 1 Grand Prix team.

Austin will participate in Friday, May 13th's Firestone Indy Lights test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with practice scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Official practice for the Freedom 100 begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 26, with qualifications following that afternoon.

The Freedom 100 race will be shown live in High Definition (HD) on the VERSUS (VS) Network on May 27, at noon (EDT). Additional coverage will be available on the IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM's "IndyCar Racing" Channel 94, with broadcast coverage summaries available at www.indycar.com.