Michael Jordan is taking his talents to NASCAR!
Per ESPN, the former NBA superstar and Charlotte Hornets owner has teamed up with Denny Hamlin to form a NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as the driver. This makes the first time the franchise will have a high-profile pair to make up a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at NASCAR’s top level.
Last night (Sept. 21) the partnership was announced via social media in posts by both Hamlin and Jordan.
“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity, and there have been few Black owners,” said Jordan in his statement. “The timing seemed perfect, as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more.”
The move makes Jordan the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own race car from 1961 to 1973. Scott’s victory in 1964 at the Jacksonville 200 is the only win by a Black driver in Cup history.
According to ESPN, Hamlin, a top contender for this year’s Cup title and Daytona 500 winner shares his excitement on the new partnership.
“Eleven years ago, I met Michael Jordan at a then-Charlotte Bobcats game, and we became fast friends,” Hamlin said. “Not long after, I joined Jordan Brand as their first NASCAR athlete. Our friendship has grown over the years, and now we are ready to take it to the next level.”
He says, “deciding on the driver was easy – it had to be Bubba Wallace.”
This season Wallace used his platform to push for racial equality and successfully urged NASCAR to ban the display of the Confederate flag at its events. The 27-year-old is the only Black driver in the Cup Series.
Congrats to this team on such a monumental move!