New Neighborhood Voice

Newsletter - Edition 26 - Section 1

May 1, 2005

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Click on a thumbnail to view larger photos - More photos are in Section 2

Alum Rock
Jazz Band

 

Captain Juan Diaz
Defensible Space

 

Willy T Ribbs
and
Bill Cosby

Young
Willy T

Willy T and
Paul Newman

 

SCV Water
District Director
Richard Santos

 

Anne
Dunham

 

Renaissance
Academy
Student

NNV receives an award
from the SJEE Rotary

 

Little Portugal
on Alum Rock

Cafe Elegante
- The Mural

Menu
Highlights

 

Horse on Alum
Rock Avenue

 

Keith Bush's
sculpture

 

Turkey Trot
in the Park

Painted Ladies
in San Jose

 

Going Native
Garden Tour

Arvind Kumar

 

Barbara
Springer


Blue-eyed grass at
the Springer Ranch

California Poppies

 

Deer don't like
Kafir Lilies

Newsletter Headlines

bulletThe Dust Has Settled – “The Dr. Roberto Cruz – Alum Rock Branch Library” it is!
bulletAlum Rocks Again! Jazz and Barbecue downtown on June 17 by John Leyba
bulletSan Jose Medical Group Computer Theft Exposes Us to Identity Theft
bulletLive in a Wildlands Urban Interface Zone? by Captain Juan Diaz, SJFD Wildland Officer
bulletHealthcare “issues” spur Regional - Trauma service contract being finalized by Bill Gilbert
bulletWilly T Ribbs, a Racecar Driver - James Lick graduate became a star by Dan Gentile
bulletWhat’s So Good About James Lick? Ten reasons to choose Lick from Joanne Makishima
bulletMcKee Road – A History by Patricia Loomis
bulletSCV Water District – Ready to Answer Water Quality Questions by Richard P. Santos
bulletNotable Neighbor: Anne Dunham - Iowa Girl in the West Makes a Difference by Nancy Valby
bulletNNV Briefs
bulletRotary Club Hosts Library Foundation, Honors NNV! “David E. Lazzeri Community Service Award”
bulletOn the Avenue – The Elegant Avenue - Café Elegante and Salon Elegante on Alum Rock Avenue
bulletReady … Set … Celebrate! New Alum Rock Library Grand Opening – Saturday, July 9th
bulletMexican Heritage Plaza Reinventing Itself – Reaching out to the greater community
bulletAlum Rock Filly Wears Spring Hat
bullet“Celebrating Our Diversity” St. John Vianney’s Fiesta coming up soon from Tina Morgado
bulletKeith Bush Creates New Public Art for Casual Drive-By Connoisseurs
bulletAffordable Housing Fair Draws 3,500 from Sandra Dixon
bulletRenaissance Kids Wow Parents, Community by Doug Kleinhenz and Nancy Gutierrez
bulletNew NNV Feature – Richard Brown’s Alum Rock Park Photos
bulletPainted Ladies Fill San Jose Skies
bulletUrban Arts Festival at Lick High School Sponsored by Renaissance Academy from Nancy Gutierrez
bulletThe National Hispanic University Launches Recruitment Campaign from Jeff Villarreal
bulletThe Incredible Shrinking Dollar - Why is the dollar falling? Is this good or bad? by Jason Papier
bulletYou Dig It?
bulletMay Hot Topics by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bracey Tiede
bulletDid You “Go Native”? - Going Native Garden Tour - Big Success by Bracey Tiede
bulletMore Deer-Resistant Plants - Gary and Ellen Rauh’s vineyard-tested additions to the list
bulletStewards of the Land - How one couple is restoring their ranch in San Jose by Arvind Kumar 
bulletA Cat’s Tale - “For my dream, Catrene” by Schuster “Es” Thompson
bulletFAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
bulletI haven’t gotten around to mailing in my Library Measures A and B ballot. Is it too late?
bulletIs a May 3rd postmark sufficient or does the ballot have to be in by May 3rd?
bulletI did not receive a ballot for the Library Measures. Why not? I live in San Jose.
bulletWhat does it mean that the little Foothill Print Shop suddenly has white blinds drawn?
bulletWhat’s happening with Saint John Vianney’s plans to do an extensive building project?
bulletHas Alum Rock Park sprouted some new public art?
bulletWhat's Alan Henninger’s recommendation as to which pesticides or herbicides not to use?
bulletWhy are some properties along Alum Rock Avenue allowed to go to wrack and ruin?
bulletWhy does NNV continue to publish articles by Ed Allegretti now that he’s moved to Mississippi?

Other Sections:  Letters to the Editor  Deer Resistant Plants  Community Bulletin Board  NNV Archives

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The Dust Has Settled – “The Dr. Roberto Cruz – Alum Rock Branch Library” it is!

Latino community turns out for their hero

High School kids stay up late, vociferous advocates rail, City Council votes unanimously

The name of the new library branch at Alum Rock and White Roads, the one we’ve been calling “The Alum Rock branch,” will have a more complicated name than the Library Commission had in mind. The Commission voted in March to recommend to the City Council that the branch be called The Alum Rock Branch Library with the suggestion that the library’s Community Room be named after Dr. B. Roberto Cruz, the late founder of National Hispanic University.

At the Commission’s March 9th meeting which was held at the Alum Rock Youth Center, the name “Dr. B. Roberto Cruz Library” was already mentioned on the evening’s agenda when the meeting started. There was a lively bunch of supporters who stood up and extolled Dr. Cruz and crusaded to have the branch named after him. There were a few people who went to bat for other namesakes such as La Pala Rancheria and Ernesto Galarza. About an equal number of attendees stood up and recommended the simple name “Alum Rock Library” and defended it by citing the confusion of a name which didn’t include the site. The commissioners took two votes and chose the simple name with a vote of six yeas, one nay and two abstentions.

After the above information ran in last month’s NNV, the buzz around the Alum Rock area seemed to favor the plain Alum Rock name and a petition to that effect was circulated by Bud LoMonaco. He and Mary Ann Andrade faxed about 200 signatures to the City Councilmembers and Mayor Gonzales along with a letter explaining the history of the Alum Rock Library name on the day of the April 19th City Council meeting. Seven of the petition signers attended the meeting, but all had early curfews and left when the preceding agenda item went well into the 9 o'clock hour.

On the evening’s agenda was the recommendation from the Library Commission, but it was as though it was printed in invisible ink. When the topic came under consideration (after 9:30 PM!) District 5 Councilmember Nora Campos made a recommendation that the library branch be named “The Dr. Roberto Cruz – Alum Rock Library.” She had not, however, done the customary community outreach informing her constituents beforehand of the departure from the Commission's recommendation.

About twenty-five people in the City Council Chambers audience filled out the yellow application-to-speak cards. Before they began speaking, the Mayor cryptically pronounced to the waiting speakers, “Don’t try to rescue defeat from the jaws of victory” or something close to that.

One by one the speakers approached the microphone. Each had a two-minute time limit to speak. Many were students at the Latino College Prep high school at NHU. Two of the girls were so overcome with emotion that they had near total meltdowns at the mike. Several speakers outspokenly demanded that the library name should be “Dr. B. Roberto Cruz Library” with no other words to dilute the name. Some pointed out that Mexican-American organizations had decided to back the Cruz name clear back at the time of the library’s groundbreaking.

Most of the speakers were Latinos, but there were also several Caucasians and a Library Commissioner of apparent Asian heritage. The recommendations did not break down along ethnicity lines, however. Not a single person, of any stripe, recommended “The Alum Rock Library” name! And, one of the Library Commissioners who spoke, said that he didn’t feel the Commission’s recommendation fairly reflected the will of the people who attended the March 9th meeting. (NNV attended that meeting and felt that there was about equal support for the Cruz name and the simple Alum Rock name so we were surprised, indeed, at the commissioner’s interpretation!)

So, our new library will bear the name of a beloved educator who inspires people of all backgrounds. Thankfully, it will also bear the name of our community. NNV suspects that there will be those who will always call the branch “The Alum Rock Library” and there will be those who call it “The Cruz Library” rather like the “Norman Y. Mineta - San Jose International Airport” which rarely has its whole name pronounced in one breath. There are no losers in this naming.

Click here for the New San Jose Libraries Web page and choose Alum Rock Branch Library at the bottom to track the progress on “our” library.  And there's an NNV Brief in this edition on the plans for the grand opening on July 9.

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Alum Rocks Again!

Jazz and Barbecue downtown on June 17

Chow down, tap your toes, for the best of causes!

By John Leyba

Many NNV readers may be surprised to learn that 29 years ago the Alum Rock Jazz Program commissioned a rock piece entitled “Alum Rocks Again.” We’re proud to announce that 32 years after its inception, the Alum Rock Jazz Program is still rocking.

On Friday, June 17, at Le Petit Trianon in Downtown San Jose, the Alum Rock Jazz Alumni Band, led by Bill Nicolosi, will be performing with Special Guest Dave Eshelman, director of Jazz Studies at Cal State East Bay and composer of the original “Alum Rocks Again” in 1976. Co-presented by the Alum Rock Educational Foundation and Alum Rock Union School District’s Music Program, the evening will serve to raise money for the District Jazz Program which consists of an afternoon program of 25 students chosen by audition as well as “Summer Jazz,” which trains 80-100 musicians over a month-long program. Both are housed at Matheson Middle School and serve students from all corners of the district between fifth and eighth grade. Students receive clinics by professional musicians, group and individual instruction, and performance practice on various jazz instruments and voice. Some of them are then selected for further study in the SJSU - San Jose Jazz Society jazz camp and the Stanford Jazz Workshop.

Unfortunately, the program is facing sharp cuts to the Parks & Recreation budget of the City of San Jose, which has provided staff funding over the past 30 years. The staff, alumni, and students of Alum Rock Jazz hope to raise at least $10,000 from ticket sales, in-kind, and monetary donations and need your support.

Our plan for June 17 is simple: Jazz and Barbecue. The Jazz Alumni Band and smaller ensembles comprised of alumni, many of whom now “play pro,” will begin at 6:30 PM and continue well into the evening. Just outside in the courtyard at Le Petit Trianon, delicious Texas barbecue will be served beginning at 6:00 PM, placing visitors in the difficult (but pleasant) position of choosing between great music and great food. We hope NNV readers will enjoy both and support the Alum Rock Jazz Program and arts education in Alum Rock.

For more information, please visit the Web site for the Alum Rock Educational Foundation, at www.alumrockef.org or call 408-928-6893 for tickets. We are also soliciting gifts for a silent auction and raffle. Special thanks to Tom Muller of Lou’s Village for sponsoring the venue and to Conn-Selmer Inc. and Music Village for underwriting the appearance of special guest Dave Eshelman.

Click here for photos of the Alum Rock Jazz Alumni Band.

NNV Note: John Leyba is an alumnus of the Alum Rock Jazz Band and Secretary of the Alum Rock Educational Foundation.

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San Jose Medical Group Computer Theft Exposes Us to Identity Theft

How to lose your identity and your patience at the same time

Your NNV editor and I each got one of those letters from San Jose Medical Group which said, “a recent incident may have exposed you to identity theft.” Maybe you received one, too? Two computers were stolen “from behind locked doors” at their administrative offices on Race Street. The computers contained “names, addresses, confidential medical information, and Social Security numbers, perhaps including yours.”

As your editor’s business partner (I’m tired of being called the “I.T. Department,” “assistant,” “husband” or “spouse”), I set out to find out what I could, set up the fraud alerts with the major credit bureaus and contacted the Federal Trade Commission as recommended in the SJMG letter. I didn’t expect SJMG to be very helpful but I expected the rest of it to be easy.

The SJMG letter has a number to call “If we can be of assistance or answer any questions.” I called the number about 9:15 AM the morning after we received the letters (this was also the morning of the big San Jose Mercury News story on the incident). My good humor dissolved quickly as I endured an endless series of rings and announcements assuring me that my call would be answered soon (the message content was OK but one announcement was so loud I had to turn down the speaker on my phone and the second one was so quiet that I had to turn it back up again to see if a real person had answered – a good example of customer service gone awry).

Almost an hour later, "Fatima" answered the phone and I asked her some questions:

Was our data on the computers that were stolen? She said they don’t know so they sent letters to all current and past patients going back several years. I asked if they were going to or could investigate if our data was on the computers that were stolen and she said she would have to get back to me on that.

Next I asked if the data was encrypted. She said the medical information was encrypted but not the other information like names, addresses and Social Security numbers. I asked if they were planning to encrypt the other information now that this had happened and she said she would have to get back to me on that.

SJMG sent us one page of a two-page police report along with their letter so I asked her if we could have the second page and for a contact in the San Jose Police Department who would be familiar with this case. She said the second page didn’t have any useful information on it and that I could just call the number at the top of the police report. I said that I’d still like the second page of the report.

Then I asked if SJMG would cover any charges resulting from this incident or for setting up the fraud alerts. She said something like she didn’t think they were in a position to cover any costs and she would have to get back to me on that. As noted in the Mercury News story, SJMG has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since 2002.

We agreed on the five questions I still wanted answers to and she said she would call me back. I suspect she was the only one answering these calls that day even though you might think they would anticipate a lot of calls the morning after all their patients received letters like this and there was a big story in the Mercury News. I should say that Fatima was very nice and did the best she could on my questions.

To make a very long story short, the fraud alerts are not easy to set up but I did it (online finally rather than over the phone as SJMG suggested) and the FTC Web site was also disappointing (and I’m not sure it worked). My sense of humor disappeared completely during the day as I kept working on it. I don’t see how anyone without hours to waste and advanced computer skills could get through all of this successfully. It’s all a good example of bureaucracy and customer service run amuck!

Several days later, someone else called me from SJMG to see if I had any questions. She didn’t know anything about my discussions with Fatima. I repeated the remaining questions above. She didn’t have answers for any of them. She said she would get back to me on that. Meanwhile, I decided to quit wasting my time. We’re just going to watch our credit cards and see what happens.

So, we still don't have any answers to our questions.  Please let us know if you had a better experience reporting identity theft or more information on the SJMG fiasco.  E-mail us at JudyET@NNVESJ.org or fax to (408) 272-4040.  Please put "Letter to the Editor" in the Subject line and include your name if we can use your message on our Letters to the Editor page.  Your name will be used with your "letter" but no contact information will be included.

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Do You Live in a Wildlands Urban Interface Zone?

If you live in or near the hills, you do!

Here's how to prepare for the upcoming fire season

By Fire Captain Juan Diaz, San Jose Fire Department Wildland Officer

In late 2004, I became the new Wildland Program Manager for the San Jose Fire Department. In preparation for Wildfire Awareness Week in early May, and the upcoming wildland fire season, I’d like to remind you of SJFD’s Automatic Response Policy during wildfire season and give you a list of fire prevention measures you can take to protect your family and property.

Our city has been divided into zones. When homes are built in wildland zones we call them, Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Zones. WUI Zone's describe where our wildland areas meet residential areas. Firefighters have identified homes, in the WUI area, as Threat Zones since the homes in these zones have to deal with the threat of wildfires. During wildfire season (approximately May through October) San Jose Fire will automatically send two engines and one Battalion Chief to any fire-related call in these areas, as opposed to the single engine response that we send during the off season. This enables us to have a quick response, with the necessary resources, when minutes and seconds are crucial to saving lives and property. We train our officers and firefighters to Not wait before calling additional resources when an incident is occurring in these threat zones.

If you live in or near a WUI Zone, below is a list of fire prevention measures we recommend to protect your family and property. The items listed are just some easy ways to safeguard your home. It doesn't mean that you must have bare dirt around your house. You have the option to use ornamental fire resistant vegetation to beautify and give your home the best chance possible to survive a Wildfire. What I want you to know is, if you live in a wildland area, you can (and should) try to make your house and surrounding area as fire safe as possible.

Fire prevention measures you can take to protect your family and property:

• Have a plan and practice it (without one you won't know what to do)

• Become more aware of your surroundings (think fire safety)

• Post your address so that it is clearly visible (on your house, beginning of your driveway, or both)

• Have available a ladder that can reach the roof

• Consider shutters or fire resistant drapes

• Have what we call a Defensible Space around your home, which means an area clear of combustibles around your home to a minimum of 30 feet (some experts now recommend a 100 foot Defensible Space if space allows or if your property is located on a slope or surrounded by heavy vegetation)

• Trim any tree branches hanging over your roof

• Space trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart (choose plants that are fire resistant)

• For trees taller than 18 feet, prune the lower branches to at least 6 feet from the ground

• Trim any branches within 10 feet of a chimney

• Make sure the chimney has a ½ inch wire mesh cover and cover all vents and openings with ¼ inch wire mesh (to prevent flying embers from entering)

• Keep roof and gutters clear of leaves and needles

• Consider a fire resistant roof when you install or replace your roof, class C or better (this alone may save your home)

• Stack woodpiles at least 30 feet away from all structures

• Locate LPG tanks at least 30 feet from all structures and give the tanks at least 10 feet of clearance

• Use ½ inch fire resistant mesh screen under porches, decks, house, and floor areas (keep weeds and grass from growing under them)

• Identify at least two exit routes from your house and neighborhood (try to travel away from the fire's path)

• If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Your local fire station has literature on these items and other issues concerning wildland areas. Please feel free to visit your fire stations to learn more about becoming fire safe. Or click here for the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council Web site and their 20-page guide for homeowners, Living With Fire in Santa Clara County. It provides more details on making a Defensible Space around your home and recommends fire resistant plants as well as other useful information.

Captain Juan Diaz
Wildland Officer
San Jose Fire Department

Click here for a Defensible Space illustration. Click here for the San Jose Fire Department Web site and here for the location of the SJFD Fire Stations. Click here to read more about Captain Juan Diaz.

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New Neighborhood Voice Founding Sponsors

bullet

Lifestyle Properties, Call Ellen Rauh at (408) 929-1925, www.lifestyleprop.com
The REALTOR© You Choose Does Make a Difference, E-mail ellen@lifestyleprop.com 

bullet

Caskey Country Club Properties, Call Larry and Barbara Caskey at (408) 926-5400

bullet

E.M.S. LLC, Environmental Management Systems, (408) 501-4200
A full service construction & demolition cleanup, hauling and recycling company

bullet

Eileen Parks, Windermere Silicon Valley Properties, (408) 251-5860
"When the follow through counts, call Eileen" - or e-mail Restatelady@aol.com 

bullet

Keith Bush, Artist/Sculptor, (408) 923-6666, www.keithbush.org 

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MBA ARCHITECTS, Marvin Bamburg AIA, (408) 297-0288, www.MBA-Architects.net 
Residential, commercial, industrial, historic preservation & mixed use projects;  marvin@mba-architects.net 

bullet

Mark DeTar, REALTY WORLD DETAR PROPERTIES, (408) 729-9000
Call or click today WWW.MarkDeTar.com or e-mail MdeTar@amffund.com 

bullet

The financial planning firm PW Johnson, Jason Papier, (408) 747-1222
"Our best product is peace of mind." jason@greenjungle.com

And We'd Like to Welcome Our New 2005 Sponsors

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RAM REALTORS - "Serving you since 1965" in Alum Rock Village
Call us at (408) 259-4920 or E-mail Frank B. Morales or Cecilia Echavarria

bullet

The Coffee Cup, Finest French Pastries, Country Club Plaza
Sun-Mon 6AM–2PM, Tue-Sat 6AM – 4PM, 3477 McKee Road, (408) 254-0755

bullet

Robin Edwards, Inc., Engineering Contractor, (408) 244-4791
CA Lic. 762792 A&B, "Basements, retaining walls, and complex foundations"

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Healthcare “issues” spur Regional to action

Trauma service contract being finalized with County

By Bill Gilbert, CEO, Regional Medical Center of San Jose

Hospitals are making the news a lot these days for all kinds of reasons. Patient privacy initiatives, uninsured patients, seismic safety, and trauma care all compete for headlines. While some of these issues are often painted as negative, are they really?

Privacy initiatives have helped create many new hospital systems and procedures to comply with federal regulations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) created a variety of changes in how we manage patient information and communicate to our customers. While there was a great deal of training and cost to implement this legislation, it helped us improve patient care. HIPAA helps us better protect your information and keep you better informed.

The high cost of care and increasing numbers of uninsured patients are hurting many health care organizations. Recent stories in The New York Times, San Diego Union-Tribune and other newspapers across the country tell a tale of woe for hospitals trying to make ends meet and often unable to survive. This situation is what helped prompt the recent merger of Regional Medical Center and San Jose Medical Center. By combining resources, the new Regional Medical Center of San Jose is positioning itself to better serve our community as a major health care leader.

California’s rigid seismic safety laws require that all hospitals in the state meet current seismic safety code, a step to assuring you a safer hospital stay in the event of a major catastrophe. But many facilities are unable to fund the upgrades needed to meet the new code. Thanks to investment by HCA, Regional Medical Center’s parent corporation, the new Regional campus will undergo a major $108 million facelift over the next two to three years. This will help to comply with seismic safety code while also expanding the campus to include more patient rooms, more high-tech services and more convenient physician offices.

You may have read recent accounts in the San Jose Mercury News about the ongoing process to designate a third trauma center in Santa Clara County. Two recent editorials have supported retaining three trauma centers. Regional Medical Center has applied to become the third center to serve our growing South Bay region. After a rigorous preparation and training process, Regional is currently finalizing a contract with the county to provide this service. Our experienced and highly-skilled trauma team of physicians, nurses, ancillary and support staff is ready to help those who suffer traumatic injury.

Research shows that reaching a nearby trauma center within the “Golden Hour” is critical to saving lives. Regional is ready to meet your emergency needs.

So while some issues may seem insurmountable, with good planning and preparation, hospitals are better off with a little prodding from our legislators and patient advocates. Together we all make healthcare better in our community.

William L. Gilbert, CEO
Regional Medical Center of San Jose
225 North Jackson Avenue
San Jose, California 95116-1691
www.regionalmedicalsanjose.com
(Use the Contact button on the lower "toolbar" if you would like to contact RMC by e-mail)

Click here to read our most recent article on the Regional Medical Center expansion.

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Willy T Ribbs, a Racecar Driver in Transition

Neighbor and James Lick graduate became a star

Grand Prix race coming to the streets of San Jose this July

By Dan Gentile

I wanted to interview Willy T Ribbs because of the Grand Prix race coming to the streets of San Jose this July 31st. We sat down to talk about his auto-racing career and our mutual memories of growing up on the Eastside around fast cars.

Willy T grew up in San Jose. We both graduated from James Lick HS in 1972. I really never saw Willy T after high school until we met at the Long Beach Grand Prix in 1978 when he was driving in the Formula Atlantic support race for the Formula 1 race that year. I remember talking to him through the fence as he was getting ready to start his race. I told him I had no idea he drove racecars; he quipped back, “That’s all I ever wanted to do!” He had just returned from Europe after financing his own way to England where he rented a Formula Ford only to win the second car race of his life. He was third, heading for 1st in his race at Long Beach, before his clutch gave out.

Willy T continued racing in Formula Atlantics from 1978 until 1982. He then went on to race in the Trans Am series in 1983 and to win SCCA Rookie of the Year. People took notice of Willy T as he continued to win races. Edsel Ford called him and set him up in a Ford Trans Am racecar built by Jack Roush. He won more races than any other Trans Am driver during the 1984 to 1986 seasons. During the years 1987 through 1989, he drove for Dan Gurney in the IMSA racing series. He won Driver of the Year in 1988. Something else happened in 1988 - Willy T got a call from a person who was also taking notice of his driving career. He got a call from Bill Cosby, not an avid race fan, but he did want to help Willy T build a winning team and help him realize his dream of getting to the Indy 500. Cosby helped finance the newly created team of Raynor–Cosby Motorsports and other teams later on. Willy says that of all the influential people he met during his driving career, Mr. Cosby had the biggest influence on him, a true mentor in his life.

In 1991, Willy T’s Indy car career began with the Walker Motorsport team. With MacDonald's sponsorship, Willy T became the first and only African American to ever qualify for the Indy 500. Willy T’s relationship with Walker racing continued through 1994, entering 28 races and finishing in the paying points. During the years 1995 through 1998, Willy T did not race. He would resume racing in 1999, racing for the IRL Indy car series. In 2000 he ran the entire Trans Am series again, in a 9-year-old car in which he went on to beat many of the top drivers during that season, in much newer cars. In 2001 Willy T drove for the Bobby Hamilton Motorsports team in the NASCAR Craftsman truck series. He was part of a diversity series that was sponsored by Dodge. The last time Willy T would race was October 2001.

Willy T grew up surrounded by fast cars. His father Bunny Ribbs owned and operated Ribbs Plumbing that is still located on Alum Rock Avenue next to the PW Market. His dad raced on the weekends in the Bay Area in an English racecar called an Elva. Did you know they used to have auto races at Candlestick Park? Willy T remembers all his dad’s friends were racecar drivers back in the sixties. I myself remember going with my dad to hang out at Tony Prevedello’s Foreign Car Repair on 26th Street back in the 60’s. Bunny could be found there often, talking about racecars and sports cars. I think my dad and Bunny were among the few people in San Jose driving Ferrari’s at the time and Tony was the only one who could service them in the Southbay.

Willy T says his entire auto racing career was more about being a fierce competitor and driving a racecar to the best of his ability, than with being an African American out to prove something for minorities. He certainly was a pioneer in a sport which at the time had little diversity. He was a controversial driver, getting on the roof of his race car and performing a little dance after he won a race. Many considered Willy T too aggressive a driver at the time. He didn’t always get along with fellow drivers and team owners. When he was behind the wheel of a racecar, you could be certain he was a focused driver out to compete in a driver’s style all his own that got him results, in a sport he loved doing.

If you do an Internet search on Willy T Ribbs, you get about 696 hits on his name. He may have been out of auto racing for the last four years but he is not forgotten. Today he has found new competition; he competes in shooting sporting clays. Willy T has embraced this sport with all the passion and enthusiasm he had when he started out as a professional racecar driver. He started shooting guns on his grandfather’s ranch when he was young boy. In this fast growing sport, Willy T finds he is again in a sport with little diversity. He loves the intense competition and the friendly easygoing people and doesn’t miss the politics of auto-racing. Willy T is a C shooter today; by the end of 2006 he hopes to be a Master shooter in competition.

Being a former racecar driver in a sport like competitive shooting certainly has helped get him noticed as he pioneers his way into the history books of competitive shooting. This time he’s doing it with his 13-year-old son Theo, who is shooting in the sub-juniors group. Theo is one heck of a shooter, for a boy his size, whose shotgun is literally bigger than he is. Willy T says there are lots of father-son combinations in this sport. That is one of the many reasons why he is really enjoying the sport; it’s something he can do with his son. Willy T feels competitive shooting is underexposed and can be designed to be enjoyed by a mass TV audience. Will Willy T or Theo be the Tiger Woods of competitive shooting? Willy T will be profiled in the May issue of Sporting Clay magazine.

I asked him about the upcoming Champ car race coming to the streets of San Jose. He told me that this race would be good for the City of San Jose and for the Champ Car race series. He loves the new track layout and thinks it will bring out the true ambiance of the San Jose downtown area to the TV viewers around the world. He emphasized that you have to promote this event very aggressively and put on the best show, first time out.

I asked him about the rumor that he might be driving a Trans Am car in the Trans Am support race during the Grand Prix weekend. He told me he is currently in talks with the San Jose Grand Prix race management about driving in the race.

It would be great to see him drive again, especially in front of his hometown crowd. Willy T, if you get the opportunity to drive again, you can leave the shotgun at home, you’re already packing enough firepower.

Click here for Dan’s photos for this story. Click here to read more about the Ribbs family. Click here for Dan’s earlier story on the San Jose Grand Prix and more great photos.  Click here for the San Jose Grand Prix Web site.

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Click here for Section 2 of the May 2005 Newsletter

(This newsletter is in two sections to reduce the download time for this page)

--------------------------- Contact and Subscription Information ---------------------------------
Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson, 16174 Highland Drive, San Jose, CA 95127 
Phone: (408) 272-7008, E-mail: JudyET@NNVESJ.org Fax: (408) 272-4040 
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Opinions expressed by other writers and contributors are not necessarily shared by NNV.
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Copyright© 2005 by Judy Thompson.  All rights reserved.  Updated 4/29/05.

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