Two weeks ago NASCAR Cup driver Bubba Wallace announced that he would be leaving the number 43 car and Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the 2020 racing season.
On September 22, Wallace announced that he is moving to a new racing team in 2021. Basketball legend Michael Jordan and NASCAR Cup driver Denny Hamlin have joined forces to for the new racing team with Jordan as the majority owner. Jordan has announced that Bubba Wallace will be the driver for the team. Team name, manufacturer, sponsors, and car number will be revealed at a later date.
Jordan has also purchased one of the available NASCAR charters from Germain Racing; which means that the team is assured of a starting spot in each of the 36 races next season. Teams that do not have a charter must race their way in on time during the qualifying process for each race.
Jordan, who owns the NBA Charlotte Hornets, is not the first basketball star to take ownership in a NASCAR racing team; Brad Daugherty is part owner in JTG Daugherty Racing.
In a statement Jordan said that he grew up going to races in North Carolina and is a lifelong racing fan. He added, “the opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership with my friend, Denny Hamnlin, and the have Bubba Wallace driving for us is very exciting for me.”
Jordon continued, “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.”
Speaking on formation of the team Denny Hamlin said, “deciding on a driver was easy — it had to be Bubba Wallace.”
Hamlin continued, “Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series and we believe he’s ready to take his career to a higher level. He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure he has the resources to do just that. 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.”
Wallace has been at the forefront of the movement for social change and injustice in NASCAR.
Wallace himself spoke on his new opportunity saying, “this is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career. 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.”
NASCAR issued a statement on the new venture saying, “we proudly welcome Michael Jordan into the NASCAR family, and look forward to watching Michael, Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace compete in 2021. Michael is an iconic sports figure and celebrated champion whose fiercely competitive nature has placed him among the greatest athletes of all time. His presence at NASCAR’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around our sport. We wish Michael and his team tremendous success.”