Michael Jordan can now add NASCAR team owner to his resume.
The NBA icon and Charlotte Hornets owner is partnering with three-time Daytona 500 race car driver Denny Hamlin to start a new NASCAR Cup Series team, according to a press release Monday night. The unnamed single-car team will premiere next year with rising star Bubba Wallace as its featured driver — the only Black driver racing full-time at NASCAR’s highest level.
“Growing up in North Carolina, my parents would take my brothers, sisters and me to races, and I’ve been a NASCAR fan my whole life,” Jordan said in a statement. “The opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership with my friend, Denny Hamlin, and to have Bubba Wallace driving for us, is very exciting for me.”
The move makes Jordan the first Black majority owner of a full-time race team in NASCAR’s premier series since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott owned and raced his car in the 1960s and ‘70s. The shortlist of Black owners in the NASCAR Cup Series also includes former NBA player Brad Daugherty, part-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing.
“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners,” he said in a statement. “The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more.”
Jordan is becoming more visible and vocal related to racial justice. In the weeks following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Jordan and Nike’s Jordan Brand committed $100 million over the next 10 years to racial equality and social justice initiatives. Initial recipients included Black Voters Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and the Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted People and Families Movement.
“In addition to the recent commitment and donations I have made to combat systemic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing,” he said.
Wallace has been a leading voice over the last several months, calling for racial equality in stock car racing. Most notably, he successfully pushed NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at its events. The 26-year-old driver, who announced earlier this month that he will be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports after this season, signed a multi-year deal to drive for the new team.
“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career,” Wallace said.
Denny Hamlin, who will serve as a minority partner while he continues to drive the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, said Jordan and Wallace can be a powerful voice together, not only in the sport but also well beyond it.
Jordan and Hamlin purchased the team’s charter from Germain Racing, which will be exiting after the season. The charter guarantees the team entry into the field every week.
Further details about the new team will be announced later, including its name, car number, manufacturer and sponsors.