In a press release, the NBA legend said that he’s been a longtime NASCAR fan and wants to bring the sport to more Black people, while also creating more opportunities for Blacks in race car driving. Jordan’s friend Denny Hamlin, an accomplished driver himself, will be a minority owner of the one-car team.
“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 explained. “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. Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners. The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more.”
“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 added, mentioning the $100 million he and Jordan Brand gave to organizations that help fight racial injustice.
Wallace, who announced earlier this month that he’d be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports, has been outspoken about racial injustice this year and has been supportive of Black Lives Matter. In June, a noose was found in his garage stall before a Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, which launched an FBI investigation.
It was determined after one day that Wallace wasn’t the victim of a hate crime as first believed and the pull rope, fashioned liked a noose, had been in the garage since October 2019.
Hamlin said that he and Jordan will stand behind Wallace’s social justice efforts while giving him every chance to be successful as a driver.
“He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure he has the resources to do just that,” Hamlin stated. “Off the track, Bubba has been a loud voice for change in our sport and our country. MJ and I support him fully in those efforts and stand beside him.”
“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. “Both Michael and Denny are great competitors and are focused on building the best team they possibly can to go out and compete for race wins. I’m grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”
Wallace also shared the news on his Instagram page on Monday, Sept. 21, and wrote, “Here’s to new beginnings!”
Jordan, who’s currently an owner of the Charlotte Hornets, is the first Black principal owner of a full-time Cup team since legendary stock car driver Wendell Scott, who raced in his own car as an owner-driver in the 1960s and early ’70s.
Scott is also the only Black person to win a Grand National race when he won the Jacksonville 200 in 1964.