Former CART IndyCar Series driver Andre Ribeiro has died at the age of 55 after a fight with cancer.
Best known for delivering Honda’s first win in CART in 1995 at New Hampshire International Speedway, the Brazilian developed his skills at home and on the European open-wheel ladder before turning his attention to North America and the Indy Lights series.
Arriving in 1994 at the Ohio-based Tasman Motorsports team — two years before countrymen Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan would follow in his footsteps at the Steve Horne-led program — Ribiero was an instant contender, taking second in the championship on the strength of four wins.
He’d graduate to CART with Tasman the next year, and despite his limited experience on ovals, Ribeiro would deliver Honda its first of more than 100 IndyCar victories while at New Hampshire, and add two more oval wins with Tasman in 1996 at Rio and Michigan, despite making use of the less-favored Lola chassis.
After three seasons with Tasman in CART, Ribeiro would close his top-tier racing career with Team Penske in 1998 — which coincided with one of the worst seasons on record for the storied program as its Penske PC27 chassis and Mercedes-Benz engine were no match for their rivals.
In retirement, Ribeiro built upon his relationship with Penske, who joined him in establishing a successful auto dealership in Brazil.
Known for his warm personality outside the car and intensity behind the wheel, RACER extends its sympathies to Ribeiro’s many friends and fans mourning his loss.
“I’m so sad to find out we lost of one of most inspired, positive persons on and off track,” Castroneves said. “Rest in peace my friend and I’m praying for your family.”
“It was extremely surprising, to be honest,” Kanaan said of Ribeiro’s passing. “Andre was a guy that we raced the same team in go-karts. Obviously he was nine or 10 years older than me, but we kind of came up, you know, together and then I raced in Indy Lights for Tasman after he moved to IndyCar — then I actually moved to his car (in CART, following Ribeiro’s move to Penske for ’98). So we were close. It’s so very sad.”